Crystal Womback, a mathematics instructor at Huachuca City Middle School in Arizona has implemented single-sex classes in hopes of raising students’ confidence and scores. As preliminary results indicate, students in each of the single-sex classrooms have achieved higher grades than before. The students themselves have noticed a number of behavioral and environmental changes, including, for girls, greater participation among quiet students and a less noisy classroom, and, for boys, a greater academic reliance on themselves and less showmanship (Whitworth, 2011).
Can such changes in the environment and individual behavior fully account for greater performance outcomes? Or is there an underlying group process that provides an explanation? In fact, there is – the Stages of Group Development.
This theory proposes that as groups mature they progress through five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. In the storming and norming stages, members first disagree over what is to be done and by whom, and then develop expectations on how interactions and tasks should be completed (Levi, 2011). Perhaps, through socialization, boys and girls have assimilated different educational roles and priorities, which lead to a more pronounced storming stage in multi-sex classrooms as such differences clash. In single-sex classrooms, the norming stage might be reached faster as fewer differences are encountered in the storming stage, ultimately allowing the performing stage to occur earlier (e.g., grades). When considered from an athletic perspective, the coach and consultant can see that additional work and time may be needed to progress a coed team to the performing stage; importantly, such insight allows for adequate preparation.
Levi, D. (2011). Team beginnings. Group dynamics for teams (3rd ed.) (pp. 38-56). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Whitworth, K. (September 23, 2011). Huachuca City teacher sees success in single-gender classes. Retrieved from htt p://www.kold.com/story/15533937/single?hpt=us_bn7