Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Boys 'need to move in lessons'

boys in class
The research found boys needed "high-activity, hands-on" lessons

Teachers should let boys walk around during lessons to aid their learning, American research suggests.

A report from the University of Virginia found boys learnt better when lessons were "high-activity" and presented ideas and concepts visually.

The study also called for greater competition in schools, saying boys responded positively to it.

The research assessed the role of boys- only schools and found they were good at maximising the pupils' abilities.

Report author, Dr Abigail Norfleet James, presented her findings on Tuesday at the International Boys' Schools Coalition (IBSC) conference in London.

Dr James told the conference that boys and girls had distinct skills, with boys likely to be less verbal, have less acute hearing and slower perceptual speed and to be less likely to be able to control their impulses.

She said teachers needed to keep moving in the classroom to keep boys interested.

"You have to provide them with something to look at. If you're not moving within minutes they'll be looking at something that is moving.

"They will not look at you if you're just sitting there."

All-boy classes

Dr James' research also highlighted the advantages of all-boy classes.

"One of the advantages of the all-boys' classroom is that teaching normalises the way boys learn," the report said.

"Interventions designed to respond to boys in mixed classrooms may have the unintended consequence of labelling boys as in some sense remedial.

"In mixed classes, boys' poor performance is seen as a problem for the boy; in boys' classes, poor performance is seen as a challenge for the teacher to improve the pedagogical approach."

The research also suggested boys worked better in groups than in pairs.

"Ten-year-old boys completed significantly more work when they worked in groups than when they worked in pairs with another child.

"Boys identify themselves as members of the group, not as an individual in a group."

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