Gendered science questioning: To boys or not to boys, that is the question.
Presented at: ESERA 2019, Bologna, Italy.
Science teachers are continually under scrutiny as researchers explore how they attempt to enable their students to ‘do science’ both in school and in preparation for ‘becoming scientists’. Questions have been raised, for instance, about the tendency of boys to dominate in science lessons by gaining more of teacher attention compared with girls during dialogic interactions. Drawing on notions of gendered learning within the context of science teacher questioning, this research examines whether there is a tendency for teachers to address questions during classroom dialogue to boys over girls in secondary science classrooms. Data were collected in 211 science classes in London, UK. Pre-service science teachers mapped whom teachers asked questions to during randomly selected lessons, and reflected on their strategies and intentions. In addition, a teacher-researcher carried out teacher and student surveys and an in-depth student focus group interview in their school, in which 14-15 year old students are taught science in both mixed- and single-gendered settings, to examine any perceptions of gendered learning. Early evidence shows there may be a gender bias towards teachers asking boys questions more frequently, sometimes as part of behaviour management agendas rather than as direct scaffolding for learning ideas. Teacher perceptions of boys responding more readily to competitive learning were refuted by girls in our sample. Students did not perceive gendered grouping as aiding their learning or their enjoyment of it. This study has implications for teacher training, and teachers’ preconceptions of how girls and boys may respond to different learning approaches in the science classroom.
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