Understanding Gender and Grade Preferences of Children in Geography

Open Access
Author:
Morales, Carolina Maria
Area of Honors:
Psychology
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Lynn Susan Liben, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • children's interests and knowledge in geography
  • gender differences in geography interests and knowledge
  • geography education
Abstract:
This study sought to determine whether children’s interests in geography vary in relation to children’s age or sex. The project involved examining the responses from winners of their school’s National Geographic Bee, a competition that produces far more male winners than female winners at all levels. The data came from the children’s responses to questions on the National Geographic Bee School Winner Student Surveys about what they find most interesting about geography and what they find least interesting. The data were compiled using the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) and a coding system created for this study. A total of 216 responses from the National Geographic Bee School Winners on these questions were examined. In addition to responses from the National Geographic Bee School Winners, which involved participants interested in geography, data from students in National Geographic Society (NGS) Partner Schools were also used to contrast against the data from the National Geographic School Bee Winners. A total of 233 students provided responses on their interests in geography from the NGS Partner Schools. In both data sets, gender and grade similarities were observed with both liking the categories Cultural Geography most and Places second most, the order switching interchangeably across gender and grade. With liking subcategories, School Winners liked the People/Lifestyle subcategory most across gender. Female NGS Partner School students liked the People/Lifestyle subcategory and male NGS Partner School students liked History. With disliking categories, female School Winners disliked the Places category most and male School Winners disliked the Physical category most. Both male and female NGS Partner School students disliked the Cultural category most. Both male and female School Winners disliked the subcategory Nothing most. Partner School students disliked the People/Lifestyle subcategory most across gender. The data from this study shows that females and males, regardless of geographic ability, have similar geography interests and by improving efforts for females to build on these interests and expand their geography achievement, more girls may be interested in pursuing geography and other professions that draw on geographic concepts and skills. This study may be useful for making recommendations to educators about the geography that is taught in classrooms to focus on these areas of geography that the children liked most but also teach differently and more effectively the areas that were not as popular.