Teachers' gender affects connection
to students, experts say
By Kristalee Bird
December 15, 2006 | We all learn from them, male or
female, but does the gender of a teacher really affect
the way students learn?
"When girls are taught by women and boys are taught
by men, student achievement in science, English and
social studies increases for both groups," stated
the U.S. Department of Education survey.
Rachelle Tuttle, a 21-year-old Utah State University
student, just finished student teaching at Lincoln Elementary
School in Hyrum. Tuttle recalled her own findings that
support a stronger relationship between a female teacher
and female students than a female teacher and male students.
"My girls definitely connected better to me,"
said Tuttle, "They would listen better and were
more willing to talk to me whereas the boys were difficult
to have a conversation with."
Students' perception of male and female teachers
could relate to their willingness to be taught.
Tuttle said her students perceived male teachers as
strict. Of her students she said, "As far as discipline,
they were more scared of the male teachers."
However, Tuttle also stated that students with male
teachers "work harder because there's not
so much of the classroom management that the teacher
has to deal with. They're more on top of things
and get things done faster."
Stanford University Associate Professor of Economics
Thomas Dee, in a research study called The Why Chromosome,
said, "Teacher's gender does have large effects
on student test performance, teacher perceptions of
students, and students' engagement with academic material."
For example, Kevin Krogh, USU professor of languages,
philosophy and speech communication, said in an interview
that after a review of his teaching skills that he works
on improving equality in his classroom.
"I tend to call on the male students more,"
Krogh said, "but I tend to respond more positively
and completely to the female students."
On the same lines, Tuttle told reporters that she calls
on females more in her class.
This matter is important because of a push to change
mixed-sex classrooms to single-sex classrooms in all
levels of education.
Dee explained that amendment to the No Child Left Behind
Act authorizing the creation of single-sex public schools
was sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas,
but the measure passed in large part due to the support
of Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
Schools offering gender-separate educational opportunities
have gone from four in 1998 to 223 in 2006.
This creates a problem with the number of female vs.
male teachers in the school districts. Tuttle said only
20 percent of the teachers at Lincoln Elementary are
men. If this amendment's impact spreads to Utah, the
state could face larger classes with not as many personal
student-teacher time and trouble finding male teachers
to make the needs for teachers in lower education school.
Tuttle believes that due to the pay of teachers, less
male students want to teach unless they are able to
teach at a university. The pay would be the culprit.
"I think most teachers have a second income some
how," she said.
Male teachers are needed to bring a variety to learning
and set a good role model for young boys. "Guys
can just connect to [students] in a different way and
bring out different sides of children or teach differently.
Students need a variety of teaching so they benefit
from that," said Tuttle.