Female/male Lab Dynamics

Chris Hitchcock clh at vax.oxford.ac.uk
Thu Sep 16 05:20:58 EST 1993

In article <9309151505.AA26439 at exnet.iastate.edu>, i1sheri at EXNET.IASTATE.EDU (Sheri Huerd --) writes:
>         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?

I think it's fairly typical for office hours to be empty, and for 
students to be reluctant to ask for help, and to ask questions in a 
group where others can judge how silly the questions are. I have a 
couple of things I do to try to encourage people to get help. One is 
to comment that the course is cumulative, and that what seems like a 
little problem now will just get bigger and bigger as the course goes 
on (this may be more appropriate in the statistics courses I've been 
involved in TA'ing). I also point out that it's a lot easier to get 
quality help earlier on, because _everyone_ leaves things to the last 
minute. And I sometimes quip that I *like* the simple questions, 
because I can answer them. :-)  [of course, I also answer the hard 
questions, but I try very hard not to brush off the basic questions.]

Chris. (who is commenting about teaching experience mostly in Canada, 
not in England).


Chris Hitchcock			clh at vax.ox.ac.uk
EGI, Dept of Zoology
South Parks Road		formerly: chris at psych.toronto.edu	
Oxford OX1 3PS			Still reading UseNet 
ENGLAND				for the signatures.

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