This adds a lot of extra work for trainers. But that work has not been evenly distributed. Professors who are white, Sisgender men performed less emotional labor – that is, student sentiment and their own management – than their peers in the early stages of epidemic education, according to a recent study based on faculty surveys of three colleges.
That unequal burden is driven by the various demands that students place on professors of different identities, according to the journal Teaching College in the Time of Covid 19: Gender and Racial Differences Faculty Emotional Labor. Sexual roles. Teachers who are blonde, masculine men, it says, have a “status shield” that protects them from student requests.
Gender men and women of color, white Segender women, and gender-neutral professors did not have that protection, it was discovered.
Both data and additional interviews suggest that “women of color were already tapped,” says Catherine White Berhide, a professor of sociology at Skidmore College and lead author of the paper. In other words, what has changed is that male professors of color and female, white professors have begun to do the emotional work that the female faculty of color is already doing.
The study has limitations: its sample has 182 professors in three small, private liberal arts colleges. But its findings are consistent with the literature on how teachers ‘identities – and in particular, students’ perceptions – affect teaching work. Faculties are still dominated by white scholars – and, at the senior level, men – students do not give equal rights to instructors who do not fit the classic “professor” image. Which makes it difficult to teach.
This challenge is not new. But at a time when many professors are working harder than ever, without any explicit remuneration, and many are simply seeking teaching advice that it may not be accountable for their situation, the effect of instructor identification is gaining more attention. Some faculty developers make it a point to mention this in their presentations. It surfaced in periodic Twitter discussions about teaching decisions such as whether or not to keep students Use the first name of the professors. And it’s the subject of an upcoming book in a well-respected series on teaching higher education from West Virginia University Press.
“Part of it is that people are finally listening to those of us who have been saying this for years – like, decades,” says Chavela Pitman, a professor of sociology at Dominican University, who contributed to a chapter on the subject. Experiences of women of color in the West Virginia University Press book. She is also working on a book for the same press aimed at empowering color women’s faculties to teach officially and strategically.
That situation has real consequences for the extra emotional work put in by unskilled professors. Research shows that students hold these instructors to different criteria and judge them more rigorously in curriculum evaluation. In many campuses those assessments, despite their arbitrary biases and other errors, remain the primary form of teaching assessment. Unequal expectations of students can harm the careers of women, people of color, and, in particular, both professors. Meanwhile, the time and energy spent on emotional labor cannot be used by professors to perform other parts of their careers, including research in which their careers are almost always at rest.
“The incidental story of a faculty member with low research productivity, negative student ratings, and a marginalized position as less than a good teacher is the main ingredient in the recipe for failed retention, tenure, and promotion,” says Pittman. “And colleges continue to bake it and serve marginalized faculties.”
But the students, the teachers noticed, Sims, who are black, reacted very differently to Kernhan, who is white. Some of it may be about age, or job title – Sims, now an assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was an assistant at the time, and Kernahan, a full-fledged professor wearing an administrative cap, is old. But the main factor, both professors concluded, was race.
When instructors taught about inherent bias, for example, Kernahan’s students described it as eye-opening. When Sims covered similar material, he received a lot of pushbacks, with some students accusing him of racism.
The students, Sims says, “expect people looking at certain ways to be in certain places. And when that stops, and you have someone who looks like she should be a lunch woman, but in front of the class she tells you what you’ve been thinking all your life.” It’s really empirically wrong, then they are. There will be some kind of feeling about it. “
Perhaps surprisingly, a black woman teaching about race received a different response than a white woman covering similar material. But that class is not the only reference in which Sims has received a different response to work like his colleagues.
As an example, Sims objected to River Falls students’ policy of deducting 10 marks each day for paper delays – a policy not unusual in the days before Kovid-19. The student who lost 30 marks complained to the chairman of the Sims department. The chair pointed out that the students took the class on the first day with the policy of adding 50 marks and then did not complain.
“The main issue is the stereotypes associated with particular identities,” says Yolanda Flores Niman, one of the editors. Predictably Disabled: The Intersections and Race Classes for Women in the Academy. One stereotype of women, for example, is “we have to nurture,” says Niemann, a retired professor of psychology at the University of North Texas who consults in faculty support. So when a female professor gives too many assignments and difficult exams, Niemann says, “she will be attacked because she doesn’t care” because those tasks are stressful in the way she behaves as expected. If she is a person of color, she faces another level of attack based on her interpersonal identity, Niemann says.
Considered ineligible Came out a decade ago; Follow up archive, Estimated Disqualification IIPublished in 2020 However, many general advice on how to teach well – and many studies that emphasize that advice – ignore the unequal results that students receive in a way that students understand.
Molly A. Metz has been thinking about its research side lately. Metz, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, recently worked with college senior Reina Trujillo-Strijak, who wrote her graduate thesis on how professors can promote lifelong learning in their students. The paper uses self-determination theory, which focuses on the quality of students’ motivation and the satisfaction of their three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relationships, says Trujillo-Strijak.
At the beginning of the project, Trujillo-Stryjak and Metz discussed the limitations of some of the studies they were conducting. They decided to remove a recommendation from professors about being energetic because they were able to do so, providing a limited perspective on what it means to be energetic. But Trujillo-Strijak’s teaching practices also came with a warning. A piece of paper puts it this way: “[W]e Emphasize, “Trujillo-Stryzak writes,” our teaching behavior schedule does not apply to all contexts. This is to serve as a ‘menu’ for professors who can be selected based on what they see possible in their courses.
There is a need, she adds, for scholarships in teaching to address this more clearly. “Future research should investigate the effect of ethnic and gender perspectives of teaching on student needs satisfaction and the internalization of learning. It is possible that their degree of satisfaction depends on the gender and ethnicity of the instructor.”
Niemann encourages professors facing stereotypes to present themselves professionally in the classroom. It is difficult to find fault with professionalism. It’s also wise – though difficult – not to read what students are saying about you on social media, she says.
Because student learning assessments are biased, Niemann encourages professors to build a teaching portfolio and document all the evidence of teaching success they can.
It can also help, Niemann says, to discuss identity and bias with students. The young looking professor can mention it and talk about it with the class. Niemann used to ask his students, “How many of you have ever met a Mexican American professor?” It was never too much. Niemann would talk about her heritage and background, which would tell students where she came from. And she emphasizes: “We all have our living lenses.”
Talking about stereotypes can put a strain on their power, Niemann says. “It pulls people out of the carpet,” she says. Professors can open discussions – or, if it is more comfortable, ask students to write down any questions or concerns anonymously. The professor can then summarize and answer the questions later.
It is good that colleges are bringing in so many diverse faculty members, but those professors should be equally supported, says Tajin Daniel, assistant director of the Center for Studies and Teaching at the University of Michigan. That means providing training for faculty developers, she says, and they have a diverse staff. Well-trained faculty developers, Daniel says, can help individual professors think through the ways their identities play out in their teaching. He himself has written some advice on the subject for faculty members at STEM.
But there is more that teaching centers can do, says Daniel. This means creating teaching communities and affiliation groups for professors, for example. “But it also means that if we have these relationships with department heads, deans, directors, provosts,” Daniel says, “we need to use some of our political acumen to point out systemic issues such as faculty retention rates.” – And what might be going on with them.
At a broader level, colleges must take into account the biased nature of student curriculum evaluation. Teaching centers can help, even there, says Pitman, a professor at Dominican University, through training departments on how to interpret them.
Another idea? Instead of leaning too hard on a problematic solution, follow the evidence on how to evaluate teaching. That position will only be good for coaches without a shield, it will benefit everyone who tries to teach well. Oh – and their students too.