Another thank you to the Drs. Eide at Eide Neurolearning Blog. A recent post shows how smart girls and smart boys, as defined by matched scores on IQ and performance on a verbal comprehension task, process the same verbal information differently. They show some nice functional MRI (fMRI) images from a girl and a boy, where girls use connections between their left superior temporal gyrus connection to left hemispheric language areas, whereas boys relied more on the connections between the right superior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus to connect to left hemispheric language areas.
Without knowing much at all about the neurobiology of all this, I suspect this fits with other data and studies I have read, which all seem to suggest a common conclusion: boys take longer than girls to process and learn the same material. Some have suggested that one factor of boys performing more poorly in classes (in terms of grades) when compared to girls is that, because they take longer to process and learn material, boys are more likely to not complete homework. If they miss an assignment, or turn one in incomplete, most teachers are likely to either not accept it or give it a lower grade. What would happen if boys had a longer time to complete homework? Or take tests and other assessments? Would the gender achievement gap seen in some areas of studies and age groups begin to diminish? This would be an interesting question to answer. It is time more educators at all levels look long and hard at cognitive science and research, so we can best work the brains of individual students to maximize learning for everyone.