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Inclusive Teaching

Teacher Identity & Student Expectations

"Unconscious stereotypical beliefs create expectations about someone before that person walks in the door.  When women and minorities enter their classrooms, their students, too, have expectations about them.”
–Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia
Whether it is our race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or another aspect of identity, who we are as people can affect what happens in our classrooms. In a workshop in Spring semester 2015, we examined some of the research on students' perceptions, expectations, and behavior based on teacher identity, shared experiences, and talked with other teachers to explore the implications of this research and what it means for us as teachers.
The articles and books to the left are a good starting point for thinking about our experiences, and what we can do as teachers in the classroom and as members of the University community.

Some Findings on Teacher Identity & Student Expectations

A small sampling of findings in the research:

  • 82% of female faculty reported frequent encounters with students who questioned their authority both in and out of the classroom. 83% of students reported holding higher standards for female versus male teachers. (Kardia & Wright, 2004)

  • When reading a syllabus for a proposed course on the Psychology of Human Sexuality, students were more likely to rate the professor as having a political agenda if the professor was identified as LGBT than if the professor was identified as heterosexual. (Anderson & Kanner, 2011).

  • Students did not personally believe any professor had an automatic advantage in establishing credibility based on race, yet they simultaneously discussed a different set of criteria for evaluating the credibility of their Black professors teaching particular subjects…. Several of the students acknowledged that it may be more difficult for Black professors to establish their credibility in subject areas that were not linked to their race—for example, ethnic studies versus electrical engineering. (Hendrix, 1998)

  • In courses that contained controversial content, no evidence was found that students rated women and minority instructors lower, but they did rate the course material more controversial when taught by women and minorities. (Ludwig, 1997)

  • In one study, students listened to the same lecture (read by a native English-speaker from central Ohio) but some were shown a picture of a Caucasian woman and others a picture of an Asian woman.  Students who saw the picture of the Asian woman rated the accent as “more foreign” and the teacher as less like them.  (Rubin, 1992)

  • Among several findings associated with professor ethnicity and teaching style, Latina professors were viewed as more warm when they had a lenient teaching style and less warm when they had a strict teaching style when compared with Anglo women professors with respective styles. Anglo men students perceived professors as more politically biased than did other students. (Anderson & Smith, 2005)

  • Lesbian and queer women professors in one studied reported that disclosing their identity in classes required much consideration and negotiation, weighing the benefits, such as greater authenticity, against risks, such as being seen as biased or having an agenda. (Nielsen & Alderson, 2014)

Books on Teacher Identity

Selected Articles