Date Approved

2009

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald Williamson, Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Ella Burton

Committee Member

Dr. Lisabeth Margulus

Abstract

The impact of single gender classrooms on kindergarten students’ acquisition of literacy skills was investigated in this research project. A sample of 144 kindergarten students in one public school district in western Michigan participated in this quasi-experimental, quantitative study during the 2008-09 school year.

The development of reading skills is important for a child’s success throughout his or her educational career and is influenced by many factors. This study explored the impact of the variables of age, developmental readiness, socioeconomic status, family structure, and teacher experience on the acquisition of literacy skills among children in different classroom compositions including all-girls, all-boys, and mixed gender classes.

Literacy skills were measured by subtests of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). Those tests included Letter Naming Fluency, Initial Sound Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, and Nonsense Word Fluency. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were used to measure the students’ mean change in each of the tests.

Findings revealed that several factors, including classroom composition, significantly affected students’ literacy scores. Classroom composition was shown to be statistically significant on the test of Initial Sound Fluency; children in both of the single-gender classrooms (all-boys and all-girls) showed higher mean change in scores than children in the mixed gender classes. Further, one interaction effect between classroom composition and age was significant for females. Girls in one of two age groups, the youngest and the oldest, and in the girls’ single gender class, had a higher mean change in Phoneme Segmentation Fluency scores than five-year-old females in the all-girls class. These results show that classroom composition affects some academic outcomes and that some students may benefit from a single-gender environment.

Comments

Additional committee member: Dr. Nelson Maylone

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