Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Post-grading blues

Depressing rules of thumb:

(1) If you give first and last names to characters in your exam, some students will use only last names and some will use only first names. The students who mix will almost invariably use women's first names and men's last names. And honestly I'm not too sure about that "almost." I keep looking for a counterexample, but I don't recall one.

(2) If you give a woman a title--Dr., Professor--you substantially decrease, but don't eliminate, the use of her first name, but you also substantially increase the percentage of students who call her "he."


Anonymous said...

That's depressing, in a way, because it says something about how ingrained the role concepts are. But if you approach it anthropologically, it's less depressing, just interesting.

You might try giving students instructions as to what to call whom. One reason to do this is that naming is only the surface layer--how is the analysis tilted by the gender role perceptions? Can one mute that distortion or educate students by insisting on consistent name tags? I don't know.

Anyway, I have some comments about my latest set of exams, but I'm not done yet, so they will keep.

Anne-Marie said...

Alternatively, you could go with the conventional naming scheme that many professors use, which has the first chronological actor being named "A...", followed by "B..." and so forth. That not encourages a further dehumanization of the people in the hypos by making them abbreviations rather than first or last name or gender specific, because a single letter is shorter than a pronoun.

RT said...

GamingLawyer, that's certainly a possibility, but would make grading over 100 exams even more unpleasant--the least I can do for myself is to spend some of that time with Sam and Dean Winchester, Veronica Mars, and so on. And I fear A & B would only produce another variation of the underlying problem: the assumption that the default actor is male.