We have had the opportunity to look at many studies over the years and appreciate the challenges of conducting quality research.

One study published in Sex Roles concludes that boys don’t benefit from having male teachers reading to them.

Is this a correct conclusion based on this study?

While in graduate school, one of my favorite teachers would always show research studies and then proceed to show where there were errors and incorrect conclusions based on the data. He called it, “scientific mischief.

Historically we can find studies that show that women don’t have the aptitude to vote or that somehow a person of African descent is less intelligent. All totally ridiculous when looked at today (although there are people who still believe that women should not vote and that people’s intelligence is based on a socaily constructed concept of race.)

Here’s the study in brief taken from the wire service:

Newswise — Boys with difficulty reading actually respond better to female teachers, according to a new Canadian study. Research shows that boys develop higher positive self-perceptions as readers when they worked with female research assistants compared to working with male research assistants.

The study focused on 175 third- and fourth-grade boys who were identified as struggling readers by their teachers. The boys participated in a 10-week reading intervention to determine the effect of the reading teacher’s gender on boys’ reading performance, self-perception as readers, and view of reading as a masculine, feminine or gender-neutral activity.

“As competent reading is the strongest predictor of school success, it’s crucial to find ways to engage boys to become stronger readers,” says University of Alberta professor Herb Katz. “Although boys and girls enter kindergarten with similar performance in reading, by the spring of third grade, boys have lower reading scores, which makes this an opportune time for reading intervention.”

Over the 10-week period, the research assistant visited children at school to conduct 30-minute reading sessions, reading books that hold high interest for boys. The process included duet reading during which student and tutor read simultaneously and solo reading in which the student read independently.

“From this we can conclude that the drop in the number of male teachers, especially in elementary schools, is not the reason why boys are underachieving in reading,” says Katz. “Therefore, the strategic hiring of male teachers as a way to address boys’ poor reading scores may be naïve.”

This study appears in the May 2007 Sex Roles.

What do you notice about the study?

We noticed that they used male and female research assistants for the study. Yet, one of the authors of the study concludes the drop in male elementary teachers is not the reason boys are underachieving in reading.

What strikes us as very odd about this conclusion is that they didn’t use male elementary teachers for the study but research assistants. We believe that both men and women need training to work with children.

Another problem with the study is that the assistants only worked for ten weeks with the children and it wasn’t every day. Part of the power of education is the positive relationships that develop between teacher and student. Is ten weeks for only a few hours a week sufficient for that positive relationship to develop.

We detect bit of scientific mischief.

Let’s be clear – MenTeach believes that children need caring and competent teachers – both women AND men teachers in their daily school experience and research that makes false conclusions undermines recruitment efforts that benefits children.