Saturday, June 4, 2011

Real Men Don’t Ask For Directions

Wright, R. R. (2003). Real Men Don’t Ask For Directions: Male student attitudes toward peer tutoring. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 34 (1), 61-75.

This article focused on college students and their attitudes towards requesting help from a math tutoring session. The researcher interviewed students of both genders and asked them why and when they asked for help. The author also probed them as to why they asked for help when they did. Not only did she interview students who were looking for peer tutoring, but she also interviewed tutors about the way they interact with students. The study focused on the effectiveness of peer tutoring at the collegiate level for mathematics, but also addressed some of the gender stereotypes that exist in our culture and how those may lead to males asking for help less often than females. While the study only interviewed ten clients of each group (30 total), the responses she received can serve to remind us as educators the way we interact with students must be different for each student.

Reflection for Practice--
While this article focused on math and the gender bias that exists for males being stronger math students, it reminded me to be aware of not only how this gender bias hurts females, but males as well. Even though it is unfortunate that gender bias and stereotypes make its way into our classrooms, as a male educator, I must be constantly reminded of the perceptions others (specifically students) have of me because I am male. When I was reading through the narrative of how peer tutors interact with their students, I saw how important the relationship is you develop with the student requesting help. Also, the article touches upon how men, more so than women, will engage in, as the article states “self-handicapping labels” instead of assigning themselves the stigma of “being intellectually inadequate.” When working with young men and women, it is important to recognize when these “trigger” words are being used and provide a space to support students through these trigger words to help them find the best way to support themselves. This article just reminded me of how you need to always be “on” and always listening to the tone and the words students use to describe themselves.
  • “... women were less likely to see the act of needing help as a bending of their pride--a sign of weakness.” p. 66
  • “Four of the five AARC clients had failed the class at least one time before they felt compelled to request a tutor. When they were asked why they were enrolled in the class and doing poorly, they initially responded with the same excuses as those students who had never requested a tutor: laziness and pride.” p. 65
  • “Women ‘feel their power is enhanced if they can be of help. Even more, if they are focusing on connection rather than indepedence and self-relience, they feel stronger when the community is strong.’ Men, however, tend to equate self-reliance with status and power.” p. 68

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