Male students typically outperform their female classmates in maths test scores. The literature finds that one of the sources of gender inequalities in mathematics is related to differences in the acquisition of visuospatial abilities between girls and boys from a very young age.
Existing works find that playing with specific toys facilitates learning in subjects such as maths and physics and that boys usually gain more experience than girls because of different parental beliefs on the gender-specific suitability of toys. In addition, the literature stresses that self-confidence and anxiety are not gender-neutral and can affect educational outcomes.
This project is finalized at enhancing the spatial abilities of third and fourth-grade students, and at reducing the gender gap so that girls can improve their learning of mathematics and reduce math anxiety in comparison to boys. The randomized control trial involves five schools in Turin (Italy), where students will acquire visuospatial abilities via construction play (i.e., by using Lego Duplo kits). Using the bricks should help students process abstract concepts, while the playful approach should reduce math anxiety. By improving these abilities at school at a young age, girls should therefore be able to catch up with their male counterparts both in terms of maths scores and maths anxiety.