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Faculty lecturer to present research on boys’ educational achievement gap

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Teachers and anyone interested in the education of children, particularly boys, should plan to attend the ninth annual free public lecture that the Bethel College Women’s Association is sponsoring Thursday, June 7.

Doug Siemens, assistant professor of education at Bethel College, will be the speaker. The lecture starts at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus. The public is cordially invited.

Siemens recently successfully defended his dissertation for a doctorate in educational leadership from Wichita State University. His research will be the topic of his BCWA lecture, which he has titled “Boys’ achievement gap: Framing a new discussion of gender and education.”

“Last fall, I assembled a team of pre-K-through-12 educators to study the phenomenon of boys’ underachievement and to investigate if this is occurring in our local school district,” Siemens said. “The team and I discovered some interesting things about our local boy population and school system as well as what teachers are doing to help boys succeed.

“My participants all agreed this is a very engaging topic but is not something school districts are focusing on or are even aware of. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share this study with a larger audience and reflect on what it means to me as an educator of pre-service teachers.”

The abstract for Siemens' dissertation reads: “Achievement of boys in school is falling behind girls nationally and internationally. Fewer boys are enrolling in honors and advanced placement classes and fewer of them are going on to college.

“In fact, when compared to girls, boys earn lower grades, are suspended and expelled more often and more of them drop out. Research is inconclusive on attempts to correct the problem through use of single-sex schools or recruitment of more male teachers.”

Siemens describes his dissertation work as a “participatory action research project” through which he created “an opportunity for pre-K-through-12 collaboration to study the phenomenon of boys’ underachievement to consider how care theory and relationships might be used to close the gap.”

A brief business meeting for BCWA members will precede the lecture. Following Siemens’ presentation, there will be refreshments and socializing, open to everyone, in the FAC lobby.

For more information about the meeting or the faculty lecture, contact BCWA President Valerie Klaassen at 316-799-2641.

The BCWA Faculty Public Lecture award is open to any Bethel College professor. The lecture is intended to showcase faculty expertise and research interest in a presentation that is interesting and stimulating for the audience. The award carries a $1,000 stipend, with $200 going to the faculty member and the remainder to his/her department to be used at that department’s discretion. Last year’s winner was Ami Regier, professor of literary studies.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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