Research Reports

IBSC commissions, executes, and disseminates formal academic research to serve as a catalyst for professional growth and school improvement. Global in scope and participation, our research represents all major regions in the IBSC membership. Some of the most highly regarded professionals in the field of educating boys—including Richard Hawley, Michael Reichert, and Adam Cox—have spearheaded major projects in research and scholarship, yielding practical applications for program design as well as teaching.

Get details on our current special-interest group on relational teaching and find out how your school can engage in the effort.

IBSC members get unlimited access to these special research reports in the IBSC Member Center (members must login to access).

Building Learning Relationships Through the Use of Technology 
Published May 2021 

In December 2020, the IBSC Research Committee contracted with Professor of Learner Centred Design Rose Luckin, of UCL Knowledge Lab in London, to explore Building Learning Relationships Through the Use of Technology. The goal is to design a program of future research that aims to explore how new and emerging technologies are impacting pedagogy, relationships (especially pupil-teacher, but also pupil-pupil), and the areas of overlap between these two. Learn more.

Responsible Sexual Citizenship in Today's World: The Challenges Confronting Boys
Published June 2020

In 2017, IBSC partnered with McGill University Professor Ada L. Sinacore, director of the Social Justice and Diversity Research Lab, to conduct a study on Responsible Sexual Citizenship in Today's World: The Challenges Confronting Boys. We thank Sinacore and her team at McGill University for their outstanding work on this vital topic. Additional thanks goes to the IBSC Research Committee for its leadership and the 23 IBSC member schools for participating in this important study. Learn more.

Character Education in Schools for BoysCharacter Education in Schools for Boys

(2018) – The IBSC contracted with the Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity, and Leadership in Education (CIRCLE ) to conduct this in-depth research.

Dr Phil Cummins, Managing Director of CIRCLE, and Brad Adams, Director of Education at CIRCLE, have led the research on this project. CIRCLE staff and associated external academic experts have assisted them. Character Education in Schools for Boys has deployed a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.Originamlly,it was intended that some 25-30 IBSC member schools would participate in this two-year project, which was to start in September 2016, and conclude in June 2018. By the time we completed the project, 48 schools for boys representing nearly 40,000 students and 4,500 teachers around the world took part in a range of survey instruments, presentations, and conference activities. A smaller group also sought the services of CIRCLE in a consulting capacity and these aligned projects that arose in character education have also helped to inform this research study. Research design, data collection, and data analysis throughout the process have all adhered to professional standards. (IBSC members, read more.)

Relational Teaching with Primary and Junior Boys*Relational Teaching

(2016) – conducted at diverse schools in Australia, Canada, and the United States, with principal investigators Michael Reichert and Joseph Nelson.

While earlier research conducted by the IBSC strongly supports the critical nature of the relationship between teacher and student, this study asks how that relationship may be the same or different at lower grade levels where parents play a larger role and boys may be less likely to voice concerns.

“No factor is more important for the establishment and maintenance of a successful connection than the boy’s perception of the teacher’s attitude toward him,” the report notes. In their roles as “relationship managers,” however, teachers of younger boys may need help in noticing when a boy disengages. That and other relational teaching strategies employed by teachers are featured recommendations. (IBSC members, read more.)

Mastery in the Practice of Teaching Boys

Mastery Practice in Teaching Boys(2016) – developed over 18 months through teacher training workshops; prepared by Victoria Marsick, Paddy O’Toole, and Bradley Adams.

From experts as well as classroom teachers, the professional development program of the IBSC has gathered practical insight and advice, expert “tacit knowledge” about educating boys. This study reports findings across three workshops in three different countries and educational systems conducted with master teachers identified for their exemplary expertise in teaching boys.

In seeking to elucidate mastery practice in teaching boys, this research examined the “performative components of their mastery practice in the classroom including those unique to each master teacher that, together, made up what we called his/her ‘special sauce’— enabling highest levels of teaching performance.” Researchers also asked: What are [the] mental processes that enable the … near instantaneous judgments that consistently promote optimal outcomes in particular, complex educational situations? (IBSC members, read more.)

For Whom the Boy Toils: The Primacy of Relationship in Boys’ Learning
For Whom the Boy Toils

(2013) – undertaken by Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley in conjunction with 35 IBSC member schools.

In 2011, Dr. Reichert and Dr. Hawley continued their earlier research for the IBSC (“Teaching Boys: A Global Study of Effective Practices”), further exploring the nature of the facilitative relationship between teacher and student. Their goal was “to identify the particular understandings, dispositions, and skills that promote productive relationships, as well as those that prevent them or cause them to break down.”

The report’s findings show dominant patterns in relational learning, as well as eight relationship-enhancing gestures made by teachers in response to boys’ relational needs, and patterns at work in unsuccessful relationships between boys and their teachers. The research offers practical ideas for classroom teachers as well as school administrators. (IBSC members, read more.)

Achievement in Boys' Schools
(2012) conducted by New Zealand Council for Educational Research
The New Zealand Council for Educational Research has published promising research showing that graduates from boys' schools have higher qualification achievements than those from co-educational schools. Analysis of New Zealand male school leaver qualifications from 2010 to 2012 show that boys'schools have higher qualification achievements than co-educational schools. Further analysis of school leaver achievement also showed higher qualifications for boys' schools.

Locating Significance in the Lives of Boys

(2011) – undertaken by Adam Cox in conjunction with 20 IBSC member schools in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

This research began with a core belief: boys are capable of doing extraordinary things, and are eager to be asked to do things which are significant to them. Over this two-year project, Dr. Cox conducted interviews with boys, met with teachers, and made presentations to parents, in an effort to find “dimensions of significance” where boys find value, meaning, and purpose in their lives. He organized his findings into “clusters of significance” that focused on “Becoming Myself,” “Belonging and Influence,” “Pragmatic Transcendence,” “’Real-Time’ Achievement,” and “Origins and Traditions.”

Among his recommendations for “Schools of Significance,” Dr. Cox challenges schools for boys to help students find meaning in the work that they do. (IBSC members, read more.)

Teaching Boys: A Global Study of Effective Practices
Teaching Boys

(2009) – conducted by the Center for The Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives.

This initiative began by asking 1,000 teachers and 1,500 adolescent boys at eighteen IBSC member schools to “describe a lesson or classroom activity that ‘worked’.” What they discovered in listening were the ways in which teachers were adapting lessons to fit boys’ interests and needs, and an appreciation for that approach from the students themselves.

The report finds “a powerful endorsement of active, project-centered learning: boys on their feet, moving about, working individually, in pairs, and in teams to solve problems, create products, [and] compose presentations to their classmates who are held accountable for the material presented.” It also notes that successful learning is built upon relationships of trust and respect. (IBSC members, read more.)