What to do when women talk less

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the Classroom: Self-Identification as Listeners or Talkers

I ask students to identify themselves as primarily Listeners or
Talkers, and divide them into small groups of three to five Listeners,
or three to five Talkers. This allows the Listeners (often women) to
contribute more to the group discussion while training the Talkers
(who are often, but not always, men) to listen more carefully to their
peers. The small group discussions are essential to developing the
students’ confidence and competence in reading and analyzing the texts
and case studies. After they have worked in these groups, I notice the
Listeners becoming more active in participating and the Talkers taking
more time to digest the ideas of others before responding.

Also: many women students (and learners of English as a second
language, both male and female) are more successful at asking
questions during office hours than during fast-paced classroom
discussions.  For this reason my syllabus allows students to earn
credit for discussing the text during office hours.

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