Associate Dean's Message
One Size Does Not Fit All: Gender, Language, and Teaching & Learning
Associate Dean Beverly Cabello, Michael D. Eisner College of Education
As I read this issue of InnovatED, I kept thinking, one size does not fit all. Most seasoned educators know that there is no such thing as one approach that is effective for all types of students. Rather, the diversity of our student population requires that we use multiple perspectives, multiple instructional approaches, and multiple methods of assessment. Moreover, we must continually review our work as professionals in light of new research findings and theories.
In this spring’s issue of InnovatED, Drs. Collier, Desrochers, and Goodwin point to the declining academic success of males in K-12 and post-secondary education, citing Cal State Northridge’s (CSUN) statistics for the general CSUN student population. Their article inspired me to look for statistical data related to our teachers and teacher candidates.
Our statistical data reflect a similar pattern in our credentials programs, as do the data for both California and national teacher profiles. CSUN by the Numbers (www.csun.edu/~instrsch/index.html) shows demographic trends in our College’s credential programs from fall 1993 through fall 2012. These data show minimal change in gender distribution from fall 1993 (23.4% male) to fall 2012 (29.7% male) with only a 6.4% increase percentage-wise. According to the California Department of Education CalEdFacts, the latest available California demographic statistics (2009-2010) indicate that of the total number of teachers prepared in 2010-2011, 29% were male. Of the 29% new male teachers:
- 49.18% were teaching in elementary school
- 16.10% were teaching in middle school
- 26.01% were teaching in high school
- 8.72% were teaching in other types of schools (e.g., continuing education)
The total teacher population for 2009-2010 was 299,666. The latest national profile of teacher demographics from the National Center for Teacher Education (Feistritzer, 2011) finds that in 2011 only 16% of K-12 teachers were male.
When we look at the population of college professors, a similar demographic pattern exists but varies across disciplines. More importantly, there are differentiated patterns in terms of faculty approaches to teaching and evaluation by field and gender (Higher Education Research Institute [HERI], 2012). Significantly more men than women:
- Select STEM fields
- Grade on a curve
- Lecture extensively
Significantly more women than men in STEM:
- Promote class discussions
- Use cooperative and experiential learning strategies
- Assign reflective writing
- Assess student presentations
With the exception of class discussions, this pattern is also true in non-STEM fields.
The implications for our college of education are that we need to study potential gender differences in our teacher preparation and that faculty should be reflecting upon their own teaching styles as related to gender differentiation. Are there gender differences in our teaching and curriculum? Do we address gender differences in K-12 as well as post-secondary education?
The next article by Drs. Narr, Klein, and Schneiderman directly relates to the issue of instructional differentiation, but in the areas language learning and language use. Hence, in addition to gender differentiation, language differentiation among students is another difference to consider. A key aspect of this article—that relates to all education programs in the college—is how to integrate the new California Core Standards (CCS) on English language acquisition across the disciplines. Several of our faculty have been working on various aspects of the Common Core Standards in mathematics, English-Language Arts (ELA), ESL, bilingual learners, and writing. The implication of the Core Standards for the Eisner College, which prepares elementary, secondary, and special education professionals (especially teachers), is that our students will be expected to address the core standards across all disciplines, ability groups, and language groups. Drs. Narr, Klein, and Schneiderman provide an excellent example of how to address a major aspect of the ELA standards with a specific language group, deaf/hard of hearing. The work described in this article portends the kind of undertaking that needs to be done in our teacher preparation programs, including collaboration among science, math, and ESL professors in figuring out how to integrate the ELA standards into teacher preparation across the disciplines. Another important aspect of this article relates back to the gender differentiation data. The authors state that the Listening and Speaking domain of the CCS ELA is a foundational piece in the process of developing academically competent students who are ready for college and career. This is especially true for English-Language Learners, regardless of their first language. As a result, it is critical to provide students with the opportunity to collaboratively discuss content and concepts with peers as well as with instructors. These discussions help clarify misunderstandings that may be language-based and provide the opportunity to articulate their understandings to peers and the instructor. If we think back to the HERI data comparing male and female professors in STEM and non-STEM disciplines, we see the importance of the fact that female professors tend to provide more opportunities for student discussion and presentation than do their male counterparts. Structured collaborative conversations provide opportunities for the instructor to check for understanding in order to clarify concepts and for peers to support each other’s learning process. Well-structured collaborative activities increase intrinsic motivation because they provide individuals with choice, a level of autonomy over their learning, and a sense of belonging (Sternberg & Williams, 2010).
Intrinsic motivation is at the core of Dr. Adele Gottfried’s very distinguished body of research. She has investigated how intrinsic motivation can be fostered within families and classrooms, the role of learning-task difficulty in enhancing or suppressing intrinsic motivation, and the relationship between intrinsic academic motivation and academic achievement. Dr. Gottfried has also addressed the role of motivation and giftedness, yet another aspect of differentiation. The First Annual Research Colloquium organized by Dr. Gottfried brings us back full circle to the research on gender differentiation in education.
- California Department of Education (2012). CalEdFacts. (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/sa/cefsarc.asp)
- Feistritzer, E. C., (2011). Profile of teachers in the U.S. 2011. Washington D.C., National Center for Education Information.
- Hurtado, S., Eagan, M.K., Pryor, J.H., Whang, H., & Tran, S. (2012). Undergraduate teaching faculty: The 2010-2011 HERI faculty survey. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.
- Sternberg, R. J. & Williams, W.M. (2010). Educational psychology (2nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill, pp. 347 – 388.