Discovering the Gender Lens: The Influence of an Introductory Gender Studies Course on Personal Change
Author(s)Hoke-Sinex, Linda B.
Contributor(s)Stright, Anne D.
gender studies courses
Education, Educational Psychology
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AbstractThesis (PhD) - Indiana University, School of Education, 2006
The discipline of gender studies, driven by the social movement of feminism, has become an established area of study on a number of university campuses. Early examinations of gender studies courses identified two specific influences of this newly formed branch of education, intellectual mastery of the course content and the less traditional goal of personal change (the effects of student connections between class materials and personal experiences). Based on existing research, feminist theory and theories of gender development, the author of the present study hypothesized a continued personal change impact of current gender studies courses. The study explored this concept of personal change through an examination of the pre-course relationships between biological sex, experiences with sexism, parental nontraditional gender roles and students' feminist perspectives. Furthermore, the study examined post-course effects related to the concept of personal change through an inquiry on the influence of an introductory gender studies course on students' feminist perspective, gender identity, and gender self-confidence. As pre-course and post-course measures, gender studies students (n = 118) from three separate sections of the same undergraduate course completed a series of questionnaires pertaining to these areas. As a control, 48 education students also completed the questionnaires. Pre-course measures revealed that experience with sexism was a significant predictor of the following feminist perspective self-reports: low acceptance of inequities, high awareness of inequities, high exploration of feminist perspective, and high consolidation of feminist perspective for female students. Post-course measures revealed that gender studies students were less accepting of gender inequities than education students. Gender studies students were also more likely to change their gender identities than education students. The present study offers support for gender studies courses as agents of personal change through influences on feminist perspective and gender identity.
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