Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Now, why is it that women tend to get worse teaching evals than men?

Overheard in the gym changing room today:

"She is SUCH a good teacher. I'm so lucky to be in her course. You know, she's just so kind and loving and really cares about her students as people. And she never hurts people's feelings and takes her time to get to know you."

If that's not a description of 'good teaching', then I don't know what is. Oh, wait, yes I do. How about: "She's such a good teacher. She makes the subject interesting and relevant, and explains things clearly. And she develops exercises and assignments that really help you learn."

Also? I'd like to hear the first description applied to a man:

"He is SUCH a good teacher. I'm so lucky to be in his course. He's just so kind and loving—"

Nope, wouldn't fly, would it?


Anonymous said...


I agree that might be the rule, but there are exceptions. I have a male professor who is so kind and really cares about his students as people :)

Anonymous said...

the point isn't that men are or aren't kind and loving. it's that this isn't taken as the definition of good teaching for them. and the point is that if a student were gushing that way about a male teacher, it would seem inappropriate because men aren't assessed based on the same criteria.

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks, Anastasia - exactly what I was going to say.

In a similar vein, the person I filled in for last semester was an old white dude, and he happened to mention that he never bothers to learn students' names. I, on the other hand, made a huge effort to do so, and by the third week of semester had maybe 110 of the 140 students' names memorised. Four or five continued to elude me right up to the end of the course, and guess what four or five people complained about on the evaluations? Yup.

I bet you a lot that old white dude hardly ever has people complain about him not knowing their name, because they don't really expect him to.

Jana said...

I boggle in amazement. You memorised over a hundred names in three weeks? How in the world did you do that? I take it you were supplied with class photos? Still, an amazing feat. Or are you just good with names?

StyleyGeek said...

I'm not usually good with names, but I think it's really important to learn students' names as quickly as possible. (Then they feel they can't hide in anonymity, ha ha!)

We aren't supplied with photos, but I (blush) took my digital camera to class on the first day and took a class picture (I explained why), and then cut out the individuals from the photos, added names, and used them as flashcards to test myself until I had them all down.

It also helped that (a) about 20 of those students had been in my class the semester before, and (b) I gave weekly tutorial homework which meant I had to walk around ticking off whether they had done it, so had to repeat their name every week until I had it right.

And I made them make name cards (in the IPA, of course) as an exercise after their first phonetics lecture. We then used those for the first few weeks.

Bardiac said...

Wow, what a great name-learning strategy!

When I was a grad student, one of the female profs was showing around an evaluation in which a student had written that she had good legs.

Being expected to be all maternal and all sucks.

USJogger said...

I just want to say that "anonymous" who posted the first comment was definitely one of my students. ;-)

I'm a middle-aged white dude who does take pride in caring about my students, learning their names (I use a digital camera, too) and wanting them to succeed. I do get props for it on my evaluations (although not usually using the word "loving"), but I'm sure that's partly because I'm unusual. My female colleague who is a good teacher, but who is all business, regularly gets bad evals, worse (I suspect) than male colleagues with similar demeanors. So tell me again how student evaluations are a nice, objective measure of teacher performance.

Finally, on the subject of "overheard in the gym changing room," I once heard one student tell another that one of my colleagues "just pumps your head full of knowledge." Man, I wish my students would say that about me!