“Our comprehensive analysis of the data shows that these advantages are trivial and, in many cases, nonexistent,” said author Janet Shibley Hyde of University of Wisconsin-Madison, US.
The researchers analysed 184 studies of more than 1.6 million students from around the world. They found that single-sex education does not educate girls and boys any better than co-ed schools. Researchers also looked at studies that examined co-ed schools that offered single-sex instruction in certain subjects and found no significant benefits for boys or girls in these cases.
Theories that single-sex education may be better for students have included the idea that without boys in the classroom, girls would be able to thrive in traditionally male-dominated subjects, such as math and science.
The theoretical approach termed ‘girl power’ argues that girls lag behind boys in some subjects in co-ed classrooms. “This is not supported by our analysis and, moreover, girls’ educational aspirations were not higher in single-sex schools,” added co-author Erin Pahlke, Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
Some studies showed modest benefits for both boys and girls in maths performance in single-sex schools but not for science performance. However, these advantages in maths were not evident in studies with more rigorous research methods, said the findings published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.