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


Feminist pedagogy performed well in the case of Women in Literature. The Student Perception of Instruction Survey showed that over 80% of the students felt respect and concern shown towards them, 70% felt that the environment helped students learn, and 63% felt that the communication of ideas and information was effective. In each of these parameters, the student responses placed this course above the university average. A major part of feminist classrooms is that they are student-centered rather than lecture driven. Certain courses may find this tenet challenging. Math and science classes rely on theories and formulas already created, so lectures can work particularly well here. Although humanities courses can usually utilize more aspects of feminist pedagogy, this does not mean that parts of the practice cannot be used throughout the university. Student voices can be heard in any environment, whether it's through online methods, i>clickers, or face-to-face interactions. Peer review is also feasible, especially if smaller groups are created for larger class sizes. Even if classroom environments are not ideal, feminist pedagogy holds that students and teachers must respect one another and create a way for that environment to serve them both.

In literature courses, the goal is to have students understand – via reading and discussion – connections between characters and how their issues relate to the real world and themselves, and courses such as Women in Literature focus specifically on groups like women and people of color that are often neglected in the study of literature and are discriminated against. If students are actively engaged in the lesson, they will learn through the class material about adversity and the discussions in class will help to solidify their understanding of how this adversity existed and still exists today. Our discussions should not diminish our interpretations of the work, but should expand our interpretations and realize what they imply about ourselves and the world around us. Students should actively feel like we are growing into cultured and educated peers, as this is the goal of the college experience.

Many of the issues that college students face today rely on their lack of personal responsibility, since it is easy to become complacent or lost when there are so many people striving for the same goals and there is seemingly no direction or care being given to their individual voice. It is difficult to combat issues such as increases in tuition or unemployment, but with themes of pedagogical methods that promote student involvement in the way feminist pedagogy does, it is more likely that students will feel that college is an essential growing experience. Teachers who use feminist pedagogy should be encouraging their students to grow into more wellrounded and compassionate individuals, and challenging them to see outside the box and find methods of learning that work for them. Students should be able to do the same for their instructors, demonstrating that there is equality within the learning environment itself and that knowledge is ever-growing and ever-changing.

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