comScore

Do Students in Online Courses Give Better Ratings to Teachers They Believe Are Men?

OnlineCourseDoes a teacher’s gender play a role in how students rate their educational efforts? A new study says yes—at least, when you can’t see them.

North Carolina State University released a new study from Lillian MacNell, Adam Driscoll, and Andrea N. Hunt who wondered how gender came into play when rating teacher performance.

While difficult to separate gender from teaching practices in person, it is possible to disguise an instructor’s gender identity online. In our experiment, assistant instructors in an online class each operated under two different gender identities. Students rated the male identity significantly higher than the female identity, regardless of the instructor’s actual gender, demonstrating gender bias. Given the vital role that student ratings play in academic career trajectories, this finding warrants considerable attention.

The group’s study looked at 43 college students in an online course where a female instructor led two groups, a male led another two. In one group they were truthful about whether they were a woman or a man, while in the other they lied.

“We found that the instructor whom students thought was male received higher ratings on all 12 traits, regardless of whether the instructor was actually male or female,” MacNell says. “There was no difference between the ratings of the actual male and female instructors.”

In other words, students who thought they were being taught by women gave lower evaluation scores than students who thought they were being taught by men. It didn’t matter who was actually teaching them.

The instructor that students thought was a man received markedly higher ratings on professionalism, fairness, respectfulness, giving praise, enthusiasm and promptness.

Of course this is just a small study and the group intends to do additional research but what are your thoughts on the findings?

(Shutterstock image copyright: Syda Productions)

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

Have a tip we should know? tips@themarysue.com

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” (TheNerdyBird.com). She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."