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Gender and FYE Courses

In April 2004, Colleen Doherty of Quinsingamond Community College addressed the list concerning the completion and persistence rates of students enrolled in the institution's FYE course, and how to accommodate the differences in interest and performance of male and female students. Harald Åge Sæthre of the University of Bergen responded in July that his department saw an increase in female students' completion rates and grades as a result of a greater focus on social integration and more interactive learning, especially activity between students. In response to his question regarding current literature on the subject, Barbara Tobolowsky of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition suggested research by Linda Sax of UCLA.

Colleen Doherty (read FYE post or send email)
Harald Age Sæthre (read FYE post or send email)
Barbara Tobolowsky (read FYE post or send email)


April 6, 2004 9:17am
Original Message: Gender and FYE Course questions

Hoping that you might share your experiences and opinions regarding the following: In looking at our success rates (completion of course and persistence) of students who take college orientation, we've seen quite a difference between male and female students. Females have both higher course completion and rate persistence rates. Faculty who teach the course recognize that the very design of the course relies on one's motivation to be introspective and to learn about themselves in relation to how they learn as well as career and academic choice. The course is also highly interactive and requires participation and male students may have less of a preference for this type of learning. We also have a strong computer/lab component to the course and this seems to be favorable aspect of the course for males. A few questions- Have you observed similar trends in your data? If so, what have you done to address this at the course content and instructional delivery levels?

Colleen Doherty
Director of Career Development Title III
Quinsigamond Community College
cdoherty@qcc.mass.edu
508-854-4309


July 1, 2004 7:48am
Re: Gender and FYE Course questions

In April Colleen Doherty addressed some questions about gender and student success.
But I can not see that she got any response.
We do not give a freshman seminar so my approach is to higher education as such.

I myself work in a Norwegian University, and in Norway women represent over 60% of the students in higher education. Boys seem to choose shorter educations and practical jobs. They do not succeed in academic fields in school to the same extent as girls.
In higher education boys still dominate technical educations, and that may be one reason why these studies have a marked drop in applicants. Girls do not like these studies and boys keep away from higher education?

In literature (ex. Tinto “Leaving college ….”) it seems well documented that girls are more likely to persist in higher education than boys (if they are young and not married). But girls are also more likely to quit even if they get good results, while boys more often are forced to quit because of low academic standard. Overall it seems like departure of females is more determined by social than academic forces.

I work at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and here we have changed a development where a higher number of women than men dropped out to near the opposite. In 1997 the women represented 44% of the new students, after the 8th semester this group only included 30% women. This was the typical development until 1998. In 1999 women represented 47% of the new students, after the 8th semester this group included 48% women. To achieve this we focused in 1999 on social integration and more interactive learning especially activity between students.
Other positive effects: More applicants.

To Colleen's questions:

  1. Have you observed similar trends in your data?
    Yes females after 1999 have both higher course completion and higher persistence rates. They also get better grades.
    This refers to the great number. If we looked at new students in autumn 2003 we found 10 out of 493 that completed more exams than the recommended number. Of these 9 were men. But men also dominated the group that failed totally.

  2. If so, what have you done to address this at the course content and instructional delivery levels?
    As mentioned we don't give a freshman seminar so we don't do anything in one course.

I think it would be problematic to “solve” this development by changing one course alone.
In Norway many teachers talk about changing the school so boys will be more successful in academic fields. For the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences where I work we just feel great about getting more women into areas traditionally dominated by men, but we monitor the development.

My own question:
The literature that I have may be a bit old. Do you know of more resent work on gender in higher education?

Else I must thank you for all inputs to the list. When one live in a small country like Norway it is not to many others that work with similar problems.


Sincerely,

Harald Age Sæthre
Project Manager
Student and Academic Affairs

TLF. 47 55 582024 FAX. 47 55 589666
Adr.
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
University of Bergen
Postboks 7800
5020 Bergen
Norway

http://www.uib.no/mnfa/index_eng.html


July 1, 2004 9:08am
Re: Gender and FYE Course questions

I'd recommend looking at anything written by Linda Sax at UCLA. She is currently writing a book on gender issues and has done work on this area recently.
Good luck.
Barbara

Barbara Tobolowsky, Ph.D.
Associate Director,
The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
803-777-5193


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