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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2012

13 - Gender Effects on Mathematics Achievement: Mediating Role of State and Trait Self-Regulation

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Summary

Gender differences in achievement have been the focus of many studies across different domains (e.g., Halpern, 2000; Willingham & Cole, 1997). Mathematics especially has received much attention due to its fundamental importance in modern society, its observed performance gap in favor of males on many academic tasks, and its minority of female experts in related fields (Halpern, 2000). Other chapters in this book provide a discussion of possible reasons for these gender differences in mathematics (e.g., critical thinking, biopsychosocial reasons, spatial ability, talent, personality). The focus of this chapter is on the role of self-regulation.

In a general sense, self-regulation is any effort to alter or sustain one's own pattern of behavior (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). Within the academic context, however, self-regulated learning has been characterized by motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive strategies that specifically facilitate academic achievement (Bandura, 1993; McCombs, 1984). We explore mediating roles of students' trait and state self-regulation in academic tasks and of students' test anxiety to further our understanding of the gender gap in students' mathematics achievement.

Traits are considered relatively enduring predispositions or characteristics of people (e.g., intelligence, aptitude, or self-regulation), whereas states are attributes of individuals that are relatively changeable, thus representing dimensions of intraindividual variability over time or occasions (Spielberger, 1975). The distinction is important because individuals' traits are highly predictive of their state characteristics, although manifestations of state characteristics are highly dependent on the environment and circumstances of the specific instance.

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