This and Rouse, 1997) and further from 1970

This literature review will focus on the topic of boys in
the classroom and their motivation.

The focus is inspired by a clear gender divide in those
studying economics at school level

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and therefore a need to understand how best to deal with the
specific issues associated with

such a dominance of one gender. This is further evidenced by
the disparity of those going on

to study the subject at university with 73 percent of those
enrolling in economics in 2008

being male (Tonin and Wahba, 2014), although this does
represent an improvement from

the enrolment in 1992 at 70 percent male (Dynam and Rouse,
1997) and further from 1970

at 89 percent male (Kahn, 1995).

Motivation is understood to be conceptualised as ‘students’
energy and drive to learn, work

effectively and achieve to their full potential at school,
and the behaviours that follow from

this energy and drive’ (Martin, 2003). There has been much
research on gender in schools

and particularly focusing on educational outcomes and
achievement. It is clear that there is a

gender gap in terms of the underachievement of boys (Marks,
2001; Gorard, Salisbury and

Rees, 1999) which is further extended through motivational
differences where the gap

widens most at adolescence and then continues into older age
(Marsh, Martin & Cheng,

2008). It is interesting to note that although there is a
gender divide in educational

achievement, there is a greater variation between boys than
between boys and girls (Gilbert,

2000) and that both boys and girls achieve higher grades in
single sex schools (Aitken,

1999) which suggests such a focus on the male dominated
classroom requires close


The review will follow two broad paths. Firstly, what
motivational factors are boys most

impacted by, both positively and negatively, and how does
this surface in the classroom?

Secondly, how might teachers be able to respond to specific
motivational challenges

experienced by boys? The former will represent the majority
of the analysis split into the

themes of masculinity, socialisation, interest, and fears.

The nature versus nurture debate rages within the study of
gender and therefore there are

clear arguments from both sides about boys motivations and
particularly around the idea of

masculinity. The focus here will be on the outplay of
masculinity, or perceived masculinity,

rather than on the formation in order to understand the
context within the classroom. Davis

(2002) defines masculinity as ‘the social and culturally
constructed meanings or definitions

attributed to being male’ although notes the importance of
understanding it in a number of

forms that shift and change with time and context, but
recognises that the traditional