Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Action Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education

Department

Education, Montessori

First Advisor

Heidi James

Department/School

Montessori Elementary Education, Elementary Education, Montessori Early Childhood

Abstract

The following research assesses how reading and discussing stories that counter gender stereotypes can increase cooperation and decrease conflict between primary- and elementary-aged students of different genders, as well as to expand students’ conceptions of self and others beyond traditional gender expectations. The six-week study involved 50 participants total, 21 between the ages of 3 and 6 and 29 between the ages of 6 and 9 at two separate Montessori public charter schools in Minnesota. Each participant completed an activity pre- and post-intervention concerning the feminine and masculine traits that they would choose to describe themselves and those that could describe someone they’d want to be friends with. 10-minute observations were taken daily to record instances of cooperation and conflict between children of different genders. Pertinent quotes were recorded during observation periods and in discussions about the counter-stereotypical stories. Results showed an increase in the number of friendships between genders, and a greater number of traits chosen to describe selves and potential friends at the elementary school level. Further research in the area is needed to discover the long-term effects of counter-stereotypical literature, the importance of adults examining their own gender biases, and interventions beyond literature to counter patriarchal norms in classrooms.

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