Monthly Archives: October 2017

What’s in a name: Exposing gender bias in student ratings of teaching

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Submitted by Ruben Martinez

Article Reference

MacNell, L., Driscoll, A., & Hunt, A. N. (2015). What’s in a name: Exposing gender bias in student ratings of teaching. <em>Innovative Higher Education</em>, <em>40</em>, 291-303.

Article DOI

10.1007/s10755-014-9313-4

Summary of Article

Student course evaluations are considered integral indicators that follow faculty throughout their teaching career. This article explores the extent to which students differ in rating course evaluations for male/female instructors of an online course. Instructor gender was falsified throughout the course. After the course as completed, evaluations were provided to students that consisted of 15 likert-scale questions, including questions about professionalism, knowledge, respect, and warmth. One additional (cool) aspect of this study is that the authors performed comparisons not only on perceived gender (based on the falsified information) but also the actual gender, providing a nice comparison point. The authors found no difference in ratings for actual gender, but did find significant differences for perceived gender, such that “male” instructors received higher (better) scores on all items (seven were significant differences). This study helps to delineate the relation between gender and evaluation in university settings, suggesting that differences in evaluation are a result of bias as opposed to actual differences in teaching style or characteristics by gender.

Discussion Questions

  1. What other biases could be looked at and studied with this paradigm?
  2. What, if anything, can be done to address this problem?
  3. As gender identity comes into the limelight, what role will this bias/effect have on gender non-conforming, transgender, and non-binary instructors? And what can be done to support these instructors?

Disabling and enabling technologies for learning in higher education for all: Issues and challenges for whom?

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Submitted by Richard Henry

Article Reference

Bagga-Gupta, S., Dahlberg, G. M., & Winther, Y. (2016). Disabling and enabling technologies for learning in higher education for all: Issues and challenges for whom? <em>Informatics, 3</em>(4), 21.

Article DOI

doi:10.3390/informatics3040021

Summary of Article

This article argues that technology must be understood in context, and individuals and institutions must be held accountable for the ways in which the use of technology enables (or disables) access to higher education for everybody. There are three primary types of technology that have been identified for their educational applications for visual and auditory impaired students: hearing technologies (e.g. microphones for professors, or noise reducing adjustments), literacy technologies (e.g. SMARTboards), and communicative-link technologies (e.g. translation software). In a time of rapidly advancing technologies, some technologies have the potential to be assistive and others have the potential to be very disruptive in a classroom setting. This study focused on two case studies (including data obtained from field notes and video from both in and outside of the classroom) and an ethnographic study of university websites from six different universities in Sweden. The aim of studying the university websites was to understand the types and range of services offered and how students are positioned within the university. A summary of all the types of services offered was presented in a table with the case studies used to present examples of how these accommodations worked in a practical sense. The issue of stigma associated with accessing accommodations was also addressed.

Discussion Questions

  1. Looking at the table of examples of services offered (pg. 10), are there any services that surprised you? Do you see any gaps in the types of services offered (i.e. are there groups of students or conditions that might be missed by the listed accommodations)? What is your reaction to the number and type of accommodations that the students in the case study are receiving?
  2. How much of a role do you think stigma plays both in accessing and utilizing accommodations? What role can professors play in promoting an environment where students feel safe and comfortable utilizing their accommodations?
  3. How does professors’ policies around technology allow it to enable or disable students? What strategies can be enacted to balance a technology that may be assistive for some, but distractive for others in a way that does not violate a student’s right to privacy regarding their accommodations?

Pedagogical Approaches to Student Racial Conflict in the Classroom

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Submitted by Bianca Owens

Article Reference

Pasque, P. A., Chesler,M. A., Charbeneau, J., & Carlson, C. (2013). Pedagogical approaches to student racial conflict in the classroom. <em>Journal of Diversity in Higher Education</em>, <em>6</em>, 1-16.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

There isn’t one correct way to handle racial conflicts. Pasque, Chesler, Charbeneau, and Carlson (2013) sought to better understand some of the ways faculty address student conflict within and around racial diversity in the classroom. After interviewing 66 faculty members from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, genders and disciplines, five major themes were uncovered. These include reports of no conflict in the classroom, avoid and minimize such conflict, distract or divert students’ attention away from the conflict, react to the conflict for further learning experiences, and to proactively plan course activities intended to normalize conflict. The authors assert that when handled well, classroom conflict can allow voices to be heard, clarify important differences, and provide models for effective problem-solving.

Discussion Questions

  1. The authors found five major themes reflected in faculty members’ approaches to conflict surrounding race and ethnicity. Of the latter four (let’s not make a scene, taking control, reactive usage, or proactive usage) which approach aligns most with your teaching philosophy? Explain.
  2. Who is responsible for addressing racial or ethnic conflicts within the class, instructor or student/s? Who is responsible for resolving the conflict?
  3. How would you create an environment that promotes respect for diversity in your classroom?