Sexism in the Classroom: The Effect of Simple Informational Awareness on the Gender Bias of Teachers' Feedback to Students
Crawford, Jacqueline K.
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This study investigated the effects of: (1) student gender, (2) teacher gender, (3) attendance at a simple informational awareness session, and (4) teachers' knowledge of their own gender bias patterns; on the frequency and types of teachers' feedback to female and male students. The research study involved a one-group, pretest-posttest experimental design. Twenty-six public school classrooms were observed, with an equal representation of female and male teachers, and an equal distribution of teachers at each grade level (kindergarten through twelfth). After the initial observation, teachers completed a pretest measure on their knowledge of gender bias patterns in classroom communications, and they attended a simple informational awareness session on gender equity in teacher and student interactions. Following the inservice, the quiz was readministered and each teacher was observed a second was readministered and each teacher was observed a second time. The t. test results for the first observations indicated that teachers gave male students significantly more feedback than female students in seven of nine categories: total feedback, praise of intellect, total praise, criticism of intellect, criticism of behavior, total criticism, and assistance. There was not a significant difference in the amount of neutral and praise of behavior feedback given to female and male students. After attendance at a simple informational awareness session on gender bias is classroom communications, a significant change was observed in teachers' knowledge and their feedback to female and male students. Although there was a significant change in teachers' behavior, and they changed their biases in a majority of the feedback categories, they did not make significant progress toward giving equal amounts of feedback to female and male students in most categories. In most feedback areas, there was not a significant difference between female and male teachers. It is recommended that researchers who are contemplating future studies use a larger sample, and observe teachers for longer periods of time. Also of interest would be the investigation of the effect of the observers' gender on the teachers' behavior.
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