Silence is golden? Female participation in the elementary classroom

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Margaret Crosbie-Burnett - Committee Chair


Focus group interviews were conducted with 70 fourth and sixth grade students at 2 elementary school sites. Students responded to a series of questions pertaining to classroom participation. For each participant, classroom teachers completed a revised version of the Student Participation Questionnaire (SPQ; Finn, Pannozzo, & Voelkl, 1995). Contrary to earlier findings both girls and boys reported that girls participate more than boys. Each sex, however, attributed this participation to different causes. In addition, all of the students acknowledged that they misbehaved in class at one time or another; however, students at both grade levels did not believe that misbehavior by same-sex peers disrupted classroom learning. Statistically significant sex differences were found in the factor analysis of the SPQ (p < .05). The present study is unique in that it spoke directly to the consumers of education. Results of the focus group interviews demonstrate that students, even in the elementary grades, have specific and thoughtful commentary on their roles in school and the community. Implications for future research and educator training are discussed.


Education, Elementary; Psychology, General

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