Teacher and student interaction patterns in the college classroom and the impact of gender

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1992-12-01
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

Previous research has shown that female students participate less often than male students in the interactions of the college classroom. Research findings also have suggested that women students interact less because some teachers differentially treat men and women students. Particular findings have indicated that women college students initiate fewer interactions only in classes taught by men, whereas, other findings have shown lessened interaction only in classes taught by women. Still other results have revealed essentially no difference between men and women students in the numbers and types of interactions in which they engage.

This qualitative study examined (a) differential treatment by teachers based on gender, (b) differential behavior by students based on gender, and (c) differential teaching methods. On-site observations analyzing student-teacher interaction for 16 classes during two summer school sessions and six classes during the fall semester at a small, private, liberal arts college showed no differences, overall, in male and female student behavior. No evidence was noted of general differential treatment of male and female students by male and female teachers. Additionally, female teachers were not observed to be more likely than male teachers to create a participatory climate for all students.

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