Female/male Lab Dynamics

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Wed Sep 15 13:12:19 EST 1993

In article <9309151505.AA26439 at exnet.iastate.edu>,
Sheri Huerd -- <i1sheri at EXNET.IASTATE.EDU> wrote:
>        I am a teaching ass't for a class of 31 students, 2 females and 
>29 males.  The class is in Weed Science, and most of these students are 
>doing fine.  But at least 10 people in the class could use some help in 
>the greenhouse IDing plants and pressing plants.  I have office hours 
>that all students said they can make at least one.  Nobody comes.  Lots 
>of questions are asked to me in the hall that would benefit the entire 
>class.  Is this a result of my being female and the class being almost 
>all men?  Should I be doing something (teaching-wise) differently?
In my experience, very few students come to office hours, especially
those who could most benefit from it.  I have no idea how to encourage
them to come, except by reiterating in section that you are available
for help.  If you feel up to it you might approach those students
whom you think most need help and suggest that they come in during
office hours.  In addition, when students ask you in the hall questions
that are best answered in class, answer them, and then bring up the
question in the next section, preceded with "Someone asked me this
after class, but it is important for us all to discuss it...."  
You can only encourage and try to get across the message that it's
ok to not know something and to ask questions in class.  I was 
educated in an institution, as an undergrad, where the only mode
of teaching was discussion (St. John's College), so I was amazed 
at the lack of discussion and questioning even in sections where
the "professor" is not present (here at Berkeley).  I always try
to tell the students that they will not be judged by their questions,
but it seems a hard lesson for them to learn after being taught
the opposite (by whom?) for so many years.

So, I don't think it has to do with being a woman that they don't
come to office hours.


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