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NAME: JERMEELAH S.

WEEKES

CENTRE: COWEN HAMILTON SECONDARY SCHOOL

CENTRE NUMBER: 160016

STUDENT NUMBER: 1600160686

TERRITORY: TRINIDAD

TOPIC: CAUSES OF THE HIGH RATES OF UNDERACHIEVEMENT AMONGST MALES.

TEACHER: Ms. L. Ellis

YEAR OF EXAM: 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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CONTENT PAGE NUMBER
Introduction and Purpose of Research 4-5
Literature Review 6-7
Data Collection Sources 8
Presentation of Data 9-14
Analysis of Data 15-16
Discussion of Findings 17-18
Conclusion, Limitations, Recommendations 19
Bibliography 20
Appendix 21-23

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Firstly, I would like to thank God who gave me both strength and guidance that enabled my

completion of this study. Secondly, I would like to thank my schoolmates and persons in my

community for their participance in this study. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the

sociologists whose work aided the completion of this study along with various internet

resources.

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INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF RESEARCH

Background of study

Over the years underachievement of males and causes for it has been a constantly debated

matter, in which most concluded that underachievement is based solely on the individual or

in this case, the said male. However, as studies have shown causes of male

underachievement can be based on many things such as one’s family and the role they do or

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do not play in their child’s achievement, the environment said child is in and whether he is

being given the opportunities needed to achieve, or whether the case of underachievement

is solely based on the male individual and probable physiological problems. Therefore, this

study seeks to identify and to assess as fully all possible causes of male underachievement.

Problem Statement

What are the factors that contribute to academic underachievement of male students

between the ages 14-18 at Cowen Hamilton Secondary?

Purpose of Study

This study seeks to determine the contributing factors that lead to male underachievement

and whether male underachievement is because of said male choices or their

circumstances.

Value of the research

Research done on this topic can be useful to both teachers and students. Being a student of

sociology, this topic would help me to gain meaningful insight on topics in my CAPE syllabus

such as deviance, labelling theory, self-fulfilling prophecy etc. In terms of teachers this

research would aid in teacher’s assessment male’s behaviour in terms of their lack of or

interests shown towards their school work.

Definition of Key Terms

 Male underachievement- Male underachievement can be defined as males’ inability

or failure to perform appropriately for one’s age or talents, i.e. unfulfilled potential.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

As of the early mid-1990s, according to Younger and Warrington (2005) who has

suggested that there has been a change from just some males underachieving to a focus on

males’ underachievement. In terms of the Caribbean, education, where boys are concerned

has been a hot topic that has been debating over the last 20 years. However there has not

been a set reason as to why males are underachieving, various studies has been done on

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males and their underperformance and various reasons for their underperformance has

been derived.

The introduction of this debate came about over the ratio of males to females for

the first set of students who entered the UWI in 1948 was 70:30, more than 50 per cent of

the Jamaican students were female; and by 1982/83 women constituted 50 per cent of the

entire student body at UWI. This study was then assessed by Errol Miller who asked the

question what has changed in relative to when males were overachieving rather than why

are boys doing so poorly in school? Errol Miller’s beliefs in accordance with Shelagh A.

Gallagher’s words, believed that underachievement is a symptom-a symptom with many

causes.

Studies have shown that teachers may be lenient with boys rather than girls, and this

also enters the home, as parents expect high standards from their daughters. Evans (2001)

showed in a study that teachers thought secondary school boys were lazy, uninterested in

work and less competent than girls. Davies (1997) also found that girls were treated

differently where boys were condemned and lectured more than females, which leads to

discouraging them from school.

Another point is that the education system is said to be made to ensure the success

of female students rather than male students. This is so because the current education

system focuses on books, reading and writing to which most boys are not quite interested

in. (Gilbert and Muspratt 1998)

Male underachievement is a major discussion in the Caribbean, factors that

contribute to the underachievement of males can be broken down into four subheadings;

school, the environment, the individual themselves and their families.

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DATA COLLECTION SOURCES

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The method of collection of data and obtaining appropriate information that was relevant to

this study was conducted through primary and secondary sources along with quantitative

and qualitative data.

Primary Sources

Primary sources in most cases is carried out to obtain answer specific questions. The ways in

which primary sources were used in this study is through the form of a questionnaire that

consisted of 10 open and close ended questions. Male students of forms 2-5 was chosen to

carry out this questionnaire, due to the fact of the large male population each male student

could not have been evaluated singularly neither could every male from forms 2-5;

therefore, five males from each form level were randomly chosen. Therefore, a total of 20

questionnaires were distributed to males in classes form 2-5 of which all 20 questionnaires

were returned and completed. The method in which the data was analysed was

quantitatively through the form of graphs, tables, charts.

Secondary Sources

The forms of secondary sources that were used to carry out this study were the use of

newspapers articles, journals, websites and books. This source of data was quite helpful

because an insight was given on studies done on male underachievement in the past.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

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INDIVIDUAL

OVERALL PERCENTAGES OF MALES


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10
NUMBER OF MALE STUDENTS

0
0- 25% 25%-50% 50%-75% 75%-100%

PERCENTAGES OF MALE STUDENTS

Figure 1 showing: the overall percentages of male students in their end of term

examinations.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

INDIVIDUAL
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Attendance of males in the form of a tally Percentages

Often ||| 15%

Everyday |||| | 30%

Rarely |||| |||| | 65%

Figure 2 showing: how often males attend school.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

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FAMILY

FAMILY MEMBERS THAT AID WITH SCHOOL WORK

family members don't help

family members help

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

number of males

Figure 3: showing the number of male students from ages 14-18 who get help with their

school work

PRESENTATION OF DATA

ENVIRONMENT

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males who live in crime prone communities

25%

yes
no

75%

Figure 4: showing the number of males who live in crime prone communities.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

SCHOOL

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TEA CHER S TR EA T A LL STUDENTS EQUA LLY
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12

10
NUMBER OF MALES

0
NO YES

Figure 5 showing: whether male students feel they are treated as equal as girls or not.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

SOLUTIONS

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Solutions for male underachievement
10%

50% 30%

10%

INCREASE IN MALE TEACHERS MORE TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL PROGRAMMES


ENCOURAGEMENT FROM PARENTS REMODEL OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM

Figure 6 showing: suggested solution that would decrease male underachievement.

ANALYSIS OF DATA

From the data collected both primary and secondary sources were used in achieving

the goal of this project which was to assess the contributing factors of male

underachievement. Data collected was represented in the form of pie charts, graphs and

tallies.

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Figure one showed the overall percentages of twenty male students ages 14-18. The

responses given were that out of the twenty male participants none of them score between

0-25% on their exams; whereas seven of them between 25-50% on their exams. This left 10

males stating that their percentages range from 50-75 and a remainder of 3 male students

scoring an average percent of 75-100. This shows that majority of the males aren’t

underperforming per say, however the problem could be that female students are

performing better. Therefore, creating the stigma that males are underachievers.

Figure two’s question dealt with the attendance of male students. From the

responses given in the questionnaire it was shown that 6 out of 20 males attend school

everyday whereas 3 males go to school often which left the remaining 11 males school

attendance being rare.

Figure three under the sub heading family showed the males whose parents and

guardians help in their school work whether it be through support, encouragement and

supplying school stationaries. This question was a close ended question in which males had

the option of answering yes or no. The response to this question was that 17 males

answering no whilst the remaining 3 male students answered yes to their parents helping

them in their school work. This proved that males needed more encouragement from their

families as where their education is concerned as the minority of males stated that their

parents aid them with school rather than the resulting 17 males that begged to differ.

Figure four was under the subheading, environment, as reference to how

communities impact male underachievement. The response of the close ended question

showed how many males live in crime prone communities. Of the twenty males, 15 males

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which resulted in 75% response was yes, they do live in crime prone areas whereas the

resulting 5 males answered no to not being brought up in a crime prone community.

Figure five showed whether male students felt that they were treated equally as girls

in the school environment. Their responses showed that at least 15 male students feel like

they’re not treated equally as opposed to the remaining 5 males that felt otherwise, this

however can lead to males thinking that the education system and teachers are geared

towards teaching female students rather than males.

Figure six showed the responses of the twenty participants to the question “in what

ways do you think male underachievement in your school can be decreased?”, their answers

showed that they felt that it can be decreased through an increase in male teachers,

encouragement from their parents, the reintroduction of technical and vocational education

systems and the remodelling of the education system in Trinidad which tends to fully focus

on academics.

DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

Findings

 Most males feel like they’re treated unfairly in contrast to females

 The education system plays a major role in male underachievement

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 The reintroduction of Technical and Vocational Education Training programmes

would contribute majorly to the decrease of male underachievement

After the conduction of my research, it was distinctively seen that male students feel like

they are treated unfairly and unequally in comparison to females. With reference to figure

five which showed that at least fifteen out of twenty male students felt like they were

treated indifferently than female students. In the literature review, a study done by Davies

(1997) whose studies had shown that girls were treated differently, where boys were

condemned and lectured more than females which resulted in males being discouraged and

disinterested from school. The fact that male students felt like they were treated unequally

which resulted in the discouragement of male students that could be a contributing factor

to male underachievement.

Another major factor that was shown to contribute to male underachievement is the

education system. In figure six, 50% of the male students stated that the numbers of

underachievement would decrease if the education system was remodelled to better suited

their interests and strongholds. This can be shown in the literature review where there was

mention (Gilbert and Muspratt 1998) that the education system is felt to be better suited to

the female students as it incorporates more reading and books (Davies 1997) which males

can tend to be disinterested in. Along with that, there are other factors in our education

system and contributes to underachievement.

Which leads us to the final point, which is interrelated with the second point as they both

focus on a way in which male underachievement can be decreased. This point deals with the

changing of the education system to reintroduce parts of the school curriculum which males

were comfortable with. The suggestion was the reintroduction of TVET programmes in the

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school curriculum, which is a male-dominated programme. Therefore, emphasising and

answering Errol Miller’s question as to why males are underachieving, and showing that

males can succeed and outperform females all dependant on the education system.

CONCLUSION

This study has been concluded and it is seen that males do underachieve for various

reasons, whether it is based on themselves, their school, the environment they are brought

up in or their families. However, it was also concluded that although males do underachieve

in comparison to females that there are possible solutions one of which being a remodelling

of the education system that caters for males and their interests.
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LIMITATIONS

One of the limitations in carrying out this project was the reluctance of males to

participate in the questionnaires based on the topic which they somehow felt attacked and

vulnerable. Together with the limitation of not having access to a fully functioning computer

which delayed the completion of this project. However, in due time these obstacles were

removed which enabled me to fully complete this project.

RECOMMENDATIONS

With the information gathered in this project, it was seen that the factor that is

affecting male’s performance greatly is the way in which the education curriculum is

structured. Henceforth, it is strongly suggested that an array of choices in employed in the

education system for example academics and Technical Vocational Education Training

programmes, together with the focus of the education being expanded to a broader

spectrum than just academics.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Francis, Becky and Skelton, Christine “Reassessing Gender and Achievement”

Psychology Press 2003

2. Fraser, Mark. “Why Are Our Boys Under-Performing in School?” 23 August 2014

Web. 25 January 2017

3. ASKEW, S. and Ross, C. 1988. Boys Don't Cry: boys and sexism in

education, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

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4. Younger, M., and M. Warrington, with R. McLellan. 2005. Raising boys’ achievement

in secondary schools: Issues, dilemmas and opportunities. 

5. Plummer, D., McLean, A. and Simpson, J. 2008. Has learning become taboo and is

risk‐taking compulsory for Caribbean boys? Researching the relationship between

masculinities, education and risk. Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, 2: 1–14.

6. Miller, E. 1986. Marginalization of the black male: Insights from the development of

the teaching profession, Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.

APPENDIX

Data Collection Instrument

Cover Letter

LP #58 Forth George Branch Road,

Indian Walk.

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Dear participant,

My name is Jermeelah Weekes and I am an upper six student of Cowen Hamilton Secondary.

I am currently conducting a study done of the contributing factors of male achievement in

which your help is needed. You can do so by answering the following questions and honestly

and trusting that your answers would remain strictly confidential. Thanking you in advance.

Yours Respectably,

Jermeelah Weekes.

CARIBBEAN STUDIES QUESTIONNAIRE

Please answer ALL of the following questions honestly trusting that your answers would

remain confidential.

1. What is your overall percentage range on end of term examinations?

o 0-25

o 25-50

o 50-75

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o 75-100

2. How often do you attend school?

o Everyday

o Rarely

o Often

3. School is important to me

o Yes

o No

State why___________________________________________________________

4. My family encourages me to do well in school

o Yes

o No

5. My family supports and helps me with my school work

o Yes

o No

6. Do you live in a crime prone community

o Yes

o No

if yes do you believe living in a crime prone community affects your academics in any

way?

7. Do you feel that male and female students are treated equally?

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o Yes

o No

8. Would you prefer an increase in male teachers?

o Yes

o No

9. Do you believe that the education system is suited for the success of males (YES or NO) and

state why?

___________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

10. In what ways do you think male underachievement can be decreased.

o More male teachers

o Single sex classrooms

o Encouragement from parents

o Introduction of TVET programmes

o Remodelling of the education system

o Male students having higher self esteem

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