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Men and women learn differently, student finds

Daily Staff Writer
EDU Thorne, Jenni 5-3 CS Vail Daily/Coreen Sapp Vail Mountain School senior Jenni Thorne researched gender learning differences for elementary-aged children for her senior project.
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By Cindy Ramunno



Special to the Daily



Jennie Thorne is knowledgeable on the topic of how men and women learn – so knowledgeable she could probably conduct a seminar on the subject.

The Vail Mountain School senior has researched the difference between males and females and how they learn for her senior project.

Seniors at Vail Mountain have the choice to forego some of their regular core subjects to immerse themselves in a study of interest during the end of their senior year. Most students choose the senior project – in fact, this year only two seniors chose not to complete a senior project.



Administrators at the school say the intense research, long paper and in-depth presentation prepares students for college.

Thorne chose to study the learning and thinking differences between males and females. Thorne hopes this intense assignment will prepare her for next year at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“We were in psychology class one day discussing Laurence Kohlberg’s theory on moral development,” Thorne says. “Kohlberg’s theory was that men think at a higher level, which was interesting.”

Then the class pulled out Carol Gilligan’s book, “In a Different Voice.”

“In Gilligan’s book, it shows that men and women think differently,” Thorne says.

From that class discussion, Thorne decided that she had her senior project topic. From her research, she has learned that there are physical differences in the brain that lead women and men to think differently, she says.

Thorne’s research was geared toward youth. She began at the high school level and worked her way down to middle and elementary aged students.

Her research indicated that males typically learn with more ‘hands on’ experiences and tend to learn from more spatial-thinking assignments. Thorne’s research also showed that the way students are taught in elementary schools has an impact on later learning experiences.

“In elementary school, teachers tend to talk to listening students,” says Thorne. “While I was sitting in those elementary classrooms, I never thought about that and how that influences males.”

And although area elementary schools work at improving education annually and learn about different learning styles – there are also gender differences that have to be considered, Thorne says.

“There are problems in the elementary learning environment that we need to address,” says Thorne.

Final drafts of Vail Mountain’s senior projects are due Monday. The final presentations are open to the public during the week of May 17.

To learn more about Vail Mountain School’s senior projects or other programs, call 476-3850.


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