How Do Girls Learn Differently From Boys?

Classroom learning and gender differences

Boys Brains and Girls Brains. Are They Different? Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Many studies have found that both girls and boys take a different approach to learning. If you’re teaching a mixed class, here are just a few of the learning differences that could be worth taking into account in order to get the best out of your male and female pupils.

The difference between boy brains and girl brains

Understanding the best way to learn means looking into the brains of both genders. Whilst not always the case, women generally have a larger hippocampus that is better suited for writing and vocabulary, whilst men have bigger cerebral cortexes specialised to spatial and mechanical functioning.

Generally girls will develop their flair for writing and vocabulary before boys. Girls may learn better from written or vocal instructions as a result, whilst boys will often respond better to practical demonstrations.

Boys need to be more active

Girls can still be prone to fidgeting – but it’s largely a boy thing. Boys often need to be doing something active to learn. They benefit from storyboarding a story with images before writing it, using blocks to do simple mathematics or taking part in a science experiment to see how it is done. Girls still an interactive environment, but may not need to be keeping their hands busy as much as boys.

Classroom learning games can be beneficial to both genders. Girls may benefit more from word games, whilst boys may prefer games that involve moving around.

Girls can be more self-critical

Studies have found that girls can often be more self-critical of their grades than boys. It’s for this reason that a girl getting straight ‘A’s may still kick themselves for wanting to do a better, whilst a boy getting all ‘B’s might be more content and not want to strive for those ‘A’s despite having the potential to do so.

As a result, smart girls may need to be built-up more, whilst smart boys may need to be knocked down a peg or two. This should all still be done in a positive manner, congratulating girls whilst encouraging boys that they have the ability to achieve even better.

Girls look to adults as an ally

Girls will often look to a teacher as an ally and someone that they want to impress. They may also be more determined to impress parents and carers than boys. They want to do adults proud and see them more as confidantes and as a result can often take their criticism with more trust and belief.

Quite often, boys aren’t interested in what adults think. They may be more likely to get high grades to compete against other classmates or simply to compete against their own past grades. Boys may be less open to criticism unless given sufficient reasoning. Rather than being told ‘don’t do this…’, they may respond better to being told ‘don’t do this because…’ allowing them to understand why it is wrong (in contrast, girls may be more likely to trust that it is wrong without needing further reasoning).