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Moses Lui

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EDUC 326 Assignment 3 - Observation on Gender


Equity in the Classroom
For this assignment, I observed Education 341 - Literacy, Education and Culture at
Simon Fraser University. This course is a B-hum education course that focuses on the diversity
of literacy and the implication of literacy pedagogy. It is a 3-hour lecture with around 28
students. Male and female students are equally distributed in the class. Dialogue is the main
component of the class. Majority of the class time was discussion and conversation among
students and teachers on that weeks topic, with only a small portion of time for lecture
presentation. For this assignment, I recorded and took notes on the interactions between the
instructor and students. I will be presenting my data below with pie charts to demonstrate the
ratio of male and female students during the interaction.

* I observed last Monday (July 13, 2015) EDUC 341 class. There were 28 students attended and
15 were male students and 13 were female students. (53.6% to 46.4%)

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Part 1: Findings
1. Who is answering the questions the teacher asks?

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Male students who answered questions

Female students who answered questions

Throughout the discussion, the teacher asked around 7 questions about digital literacy. There
were 9 male students and 7 female students voluntarily responded to the questions the teacher
asked.

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2. Whom does the teacher call upon?
The teacher did not call upon any students to answer her questions. The responds were voluntary
based and students were required to actively engage in the dialogue to receive participation
mark. Therefore, the teacher did not intentionally call upon any students.

3. Whom does the teacher talk with?

Male students whom the teacher talked with

Female students whom the teacher talked with

The teacher did occasionally go up to students to check up on them while they were working on
their class activities. We did a fill in a chart of personal literacy experience that class. I observed
that the teacher talked with 3 male students and 1 female student during activity time.

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4. Which students ask questions?

4
Male students who asked questions

Female students who asked questions

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The ratio of male and female students who asked questions in class was close. Throughout the
class, there were 5 male students and 4 female students who asked the teacher questions.
However, 2 of the female students did not publicly asked questions during discussion time. There
asked the teacher questions privately during break.

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5. Which students receive individual assistance?

Male students who recieved


3 individual assistance

Female students who recieved


individual assistance
3

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As mentioned above, the teacher did check up on students to assist or clarify the topic during
class activities time. There were 3 male students and 1 female students received individual
assistance from that. Moreover, there were extra 2 more female students went up to ask the
teacher questions privately during break. Therefore, there were in total 3 male students and 3
female students who received individual assistance from the teacher.

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6. Which students call out?

3
Male students who called out

Female students who called out

During the discussion among students, there were students who called out in the middle of the
discussion to express their own opinion, especially when they disagreed with the speaker or they
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wanted to supplement some information. Throughout the discussion, there were 4 male students
and 3 female students called out without teachers permission and interrupted the discussion.

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7. Which students are more off task?

5
Male students who were off task

Female students who were off task

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There are always students who do not focus on learning and do their own activities including
playing with their phones, doing assignments or surfing on the Internet with their laptops. During
our lecture, there were 5 male students and 7 female students who were off task. Most of them
were texting messages and going on Facebook and did not participate in any discussion.

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8. Which students are more on task?

6
Male students who were more on task

Female students who were more on task

10

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Except for the 12 students who were off task, all other students in the class were highly engage
during lecture. In comparison, there were 10 male students and 6 female students who were more
on task, which they were more participated in the class discussion by presenting their ideas and
paying close attention to other students comments.

Part 2: Summary of your observations of gender equality in


the classroom
I used a systematic observation approach to conduct this research. I counted and took
notes on the numbers of male and female students throughout the interaction between students
and the teacher. It is a very effective and convenient method that assisted my observation and
analysis. While descriptive observation method might lead to a subjective result, this method
allowed me to collect objective and accurate data from my observation. According to my
observations in my EDUC 341 class, I somewhat agree with Mary Pipher that In classes, boys
are twice as likely to be seen as role models, five times as likely to receive teachers attention,
and twelve times as likely to speak up in class. (1994, P.62) According to my findings, it is true
that male students are more engaged in class compared to female students. Though our teacher
did not call upon any students and responses were voluntarily based, male students are more
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likely to answer the questions the teacher asked and to call out to express their own opinions.
Moreover, the teacher checked up on and gave individual assistance to male students over female
students, which leads to an assumption that the teacher gave more attention to male students. In
addition, male students tended to ask more questions and were more on task during the lecture,
while more female students are considered off task with electronic activities, such as browsing
Facebook or Instagram with their smartphone and laptops. In general, the data I collected from
my observation leaded to a conclusion that it is still true that male students are more engaged in
class and they receive more attention from teacher. However, it is important to note that the
results of the findings are actually very close. It is definitely not the case Mary Pipher suggested
that male students are five times as likely to receive teachers attention and twelve times as
likely to speak up in class (Pipher 1994, P. 62) Although the findings still reflect the gender
inequality in classroom, the gender inequality is in a much smaller scale compared to the past.
The data demonstrates the shift from male-oriented classroom in the past to a more balance
classroom today.

Part 3: Tell Your Story


I did encounter circumstances in high school that I felt gender did worked against me. It
happened when I was in grade 8, studying in a high school in Hong Kong. Many believe that
female students are always the victims of gender inequality in classroom. Mary Pipher (1994)
stated in her article Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls that boys are more
likely to be role models, to speak up and receive teachers attention in class compared to girls.
Moreover, she also suggested that boys tend to be portrayed as clever, brave, creative, and

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resourceful, while girls are depicted as kind, dependent, and docile. (P. 62) However, these
statements did not apply to my learning experience in grade 8.
I was never an outstanding student who always responded to teachers questions and
actively spoke up in class. In fact, until today, I have always been a quiet student with a passive
personality who almost never voluntarily answer questions. I was considered as one of the
common students from teachers perspective. However, although I did not enjoy speaking up in
class or voluntarily answering questions, it didnt mean I am not participating in the learning
experience. I had always been listening patiently, taking notes, and consistently solving problems
in class. I would also participate in group discussion and group project, but usually acting as a
thinker or problem solver, not a presenter.
There was one time the Mathematics teacher assigned the whole class a task. Students
were required to apply the calculation skills they learnt in daily lives, and share their experience
a week after. Students were mostly excited in sharing their stories and listing the difficulties they
encountered, and the teacher was delighted about it. Yet, when it came to my turn, things were a
little bit different. Unlike other classmates who were actively talking, I summarized my story in a
short paragraph and sat down quietly after my sharing. I already tried my best because I was
never a talkative person due to my introverted personality. Hey Moses, you are a boy and you
should really act more active. Even the girls talk more than you in the class. Show me your
passion in this class if you want a higher class participation grade said the teacher, and she
moved on with the next student. That was basically the only comment I got from the teacher,
which was a bit harsh and discouraging. I was upset about it, because I felt like my effort was not
being appreciated.

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I do not agree that speaking up in class is the only way to participate in learning, because
it cannot be applied to different types of students. Different students have their own way of
learning, and it is the teachers responsibly to take care of everyones need in class. Especially in
my case, teacher should not categorize students in gender to define how actively speaking he or
she should be. That is unfair and not objective enough in evaluating a students learning attitude.
Moreover, this would also implant this wrong gender perception in the other students. Teachers
should pay attention in their tone and comments, as they are the role models of the students and
every word they say would affect the students future judgments and decisions.

Reference
Pipher, M. (1994). Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls.

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