University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - Teaching Like a Girl: Student Reflection of the Benefits and Challenges of Feminist Pedagogy
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Teaching "Like a Girl": Student Reflection of
the Benefits and Challenges of Feminist Pedagogy

By: Ashley Torres | Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés

The i>clicker

The i>clicker is a wireless/remote device referred to as a CRS, and large lecture classes often require each student to own or rent an i>clicker device in order to participate in polling sessions or quizzes during every class. Besides being used as a method to award attendance and participation points, the CRS supplemented the slideshow presentations that Dr. Rodríguez Milanés used to provide visuals for students of all learning styles (such as pictures of the author and information about them and their work). By posting previously written questions on the slideshows, students could anonymously answer questions ranging from the content in the literary works we had been assigned to the identities of famous women who have won Nobel Prizes (see Figure 1). The polling session was usually held at the beginning of class after a brief introduction of the lesson by the professor. After the polling time was up, the anonymously charted answers were displayed on the projected screen for the class to analyze together.

Based on my experience as a student, I felt that i>clickers were beneficial to me and to the class in many ways, despite the technological complications that sometimes occurred during the sessions. The CRS allowed for all students to readily participate in the discussion and the answers often prompted even more discussion. We learned how our answers compared to those of our classmates, whether our understanding of the work was the same as others, or a fact about women and literature. At the same time, while i>clickers definitely invited a progressive and egalitarian mentality to class, this technology also had its drawbacks. Sometimes, the questions were posed in such a way that required a yes/no answer or a very specific interpretation of a work; such a rigid answer structure is at times extremely detrimental to the flow of discussion because it does not necessarily allow for all students to explain their way of thinking. Another consequence of i>clicker utilization was that the system could malfunction or be difficult to use and this took away time from the already short fifty minute period we had for actual discussion.

Some students who voiced their opinions on i>clickers expressed concerns on the anonymous online midterm survey such as "perhaps more open-ended questions to stimulate discussion rather than passing through a series of objective facts about the readings" and "it seems like an effective technology, but not quite feasible for a class of our size."

The size of the class allowed for some students to share answers with their peers before submitting their answers via the i>clicker. This mechanism, however, takes away from a very important tenet of feminist pedagogy, which is personal responsibility for learning. Some students felt that proper knowledge on how to use i>clicker could have enhanced the experience while some preferred for it not to exist at all. Other students seemed uninterested in using technology during the face-to-face portion of the course because it did not help them learn, a sentiment recorded in the anonymous midterm survey responses (see Figure 2). The charts in Figure 2 also demonstrate student preference towards PowerPoint- driven discussions rather than i>clicker sessions.

Verbal discussions unhindered by polling provide for more human interaction that is necessary for the discussion of literature, but despite these drawbacks and considering the size of the classroom, the use of i>clickers is overall beneficial in engaging all the "voices" in the class. The anonymity of the method allows students to feel more comfortable answering difficult and delicate questions that deal with issues such as sexual abuse or racism.

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