AP (Advanced Placement)

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Wed Dec 3 10:33:43 EST 1997


In article <a-schmi-0312970136060001 at vortex5.life.uiuc.edu>,
aloisia schmid <a-schmi at uiuc.edu> wrote:
>
>You know, this reminded me of when i T.A.'d an intro lab in graduate
>school.
(snip)
>
  When they CONTINUED in the third week to be the note-takers,
>I took the notebooks out of their hands, and their pencils out of their
>hands and gave them to the two white frat boys in their group and said, "I
>do not want to see the women in this group take a single note for the
>remaining time of this unit.   One of the major points of this unit is to
>acquaint yourselves with team research efforts and you all are FAILING
>that aspect of the lab."

(snip)

>So I was wondering, what exactly ARE the things a professor or teacher can
>do to change these kinds of group dynamics?  I tried alot of different
>things, but short of actually conducting some group sensitivity training,
>I don't know how you would get these kinds of messages across.....

I will look up what Tannen writes in the book; I don't think she faced 
anything this extreme.  But from what I remember, she assigned the groups
very carefully and didn't leave it to chance, and she changed the 
groups with each assignment.  Maybe for these two black girls, for example,
it might have been less threatening to them to work with other women
rather than "white frat boys," and they might have felt more comfortable
assuming a leadership role if they'd been assigned to an all-female 
group.   Then later in the semester maybe you could try them with the
white frat boys, once they'd become more comfortable with the class.

I wonder, too, if it's possible that the girls misinterpreted your warning
to the boys, and thought that you were also telling *them* that they
too were failing.  In a way, they were failing, but I would guess they'd
be unlikely to respond constructively to being told that, publicly,
in that fashion, and having the notebooks taken from them.
Maybe talking to them in private after class would have gotten
through to them better.

Karen A.




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