Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Gender Differences, Mathematics and (CSILE)

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Gender Differences, Mathematics and (CSILE)

Article excerpt

The main purpose of this study is to determine whether or not there are gender differences in students' interactivity in the Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environment (CSILE). Of secondary interest is whether the number of years of a student's participation in the experiment is related to the level of her/his interactivity. The analysis of the data shows that, first, gender is still a factor that needs to be considered in the context of CSILE, and, second, it does not appear that years of participation affect interactivity.

Le but principal de cette etude est de determiner si il existe des differences genrees dans les rapports des etudiants et etudiantes a CSILE (Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environment). Ensuite nous examinons si le nombre d'annees de participation a l'experience peut etre lie au niveau d'interactivite de l'etudiant/e. L'analyse des donnees demontre que, en premier lieu, le genre demeure un element qui doit etre pris en consideration dans le context de CSILE, et, deuxiemement, il semble que le nombre d'annees de participation n'affecte pas l'interactivite.


According to the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics,(1) female and minorities study less mathematics and are seriously under-represented in careers which use science and technology. The research contends that mathematics has been a critical filter for employment and full participation in society. Because of the belief that there should be equity for females and males in mathematics education, gender differences in mathematics have been studied intensely for more than 20 years. Findings from several studies (Fennema & Sherman; Hanna et al.; Jungwirth) that deal with interactions in the traditional mathematics classroom demonstrate a typical pattern: that is, male students tend to interact more than female students. Other studies show that investment in a collaborative learning environment dramatically improves students', especially female students', mathematics learning. For instance, Scott and Heller found that collaborative learning helps women achieve more, feel more successful, and value mathematics and science more.

Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE) is a computer network system which supports students in efficiently constructing knowledge represented in the student-generated database through collaborative learning (Scardamalia et al.). The key features in CSILE include tools for the construction and storage of messages, tools for collaboration, and thinking types which direct students toward particular cognitive cooperation. Together, these design elements support the more purposeful and mature processing of information in which students begin to take responsibility for their own learning, and the learning of others. In CSILE, students write text or graphic notes to convey their explanations. These notes reside in a communal database where other participants have access to them and can work collaboratively to compare explanations, provide constructive commentary, and generally work to construct higher levels of understanding. The system supports students' active engagement with explanations by providing: (1) note types that encourage theory formulation and sustained inquiry regarding problems of understanding; and (2) database search mechanisms that support students in the creation of a collaborative community in which they read each others' notes and work to advance the ideas contained in them.

More importantly, CSILE supports knowledge construction and manipulation by assisting student study with information in the communal database, helping them find gaps, form questions and plan external searches to identify information to enter into the database. In CSILE, knowledge generation is the key issue, not just knowledge retrieval or navigation. Ideas are dynamic rather than stable, concrete things that get stored, retrieved or navigated. …

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