Gender and learner characteristics

Huda Hindal, Norman Reid, Rex Whitehead

APA 6th edition
Hindal, H., Reid, N., & Whitehead, R. (2013). Gender and learner characteristics. European Journal of Educational Research, 2(2), 83-96. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.2.2.83

Hindal H., Reid N., and Whitehead R. 2013 'Gender and learner characteristics', European Journal of Educational Research , vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 83-96. Available from:

Chicago 16th edition
Hindal, Huda , Reid, Norman and Whitehead, Rex . "Gender and learner characteristics". (2013)European Journal of Educational Research 2, no. 2(2013): 83-96. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.2.2.83


It is well established that girls and boys perform differently in traditional examinations in most countries. This study looks at a sample of 754 school students in Kuwait (aged about 13) and explores how boys and girls differ in the performance in a range of tests related to learner characteristics. The fundamental question is how boys and girls differ in these learner characteristics and do any of the differences relate to examination performance. If the development of such learner characteristic is open to experiences in the formal learning situations, then this opens the door to possible ways to encourage the development of such characteristics, with possible concomitant enhancement of academic performance. It is found that girls outperform the boys in tests which measure extent of field dependency, extent of divergency and skills with the visual-spatial (all at p < 0.001). Confirming previous studies, the girls markedly outperform the boys in all school subject examinations but there are no differences in their measured working memory capacities. In looking at the relationships between various combinations of the measurements made, it is found that boys are much more dependent on working memory than girls in performing in examinations, and the boys are also much more dependent on employing skills related to divergent thought in achieving success in examinations. These observations are interpreted in terms of the way boys and girls learn, with girls being more conscientious and willing to memorise than the boys who, in turn, have to rely on working things out for success: girls tend to memorise; boys tend to try to work it out.

Keywords: High ability, gender, learner characteristics, working memory