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Everyone’s Voice: Encouraging all students‘ participation

What & why?

Lots of studies have shown that not all students participate equally in class, not only when volunteering to speak, but also when questioned by teachers.

At Lab School Paris, we felt like we were promoting speaking up fairly and listening to all students. However, it was the arrival of a young researcher who observed student councils that helped teachers and students become aware of gender bias in speaking. For example, the researcher demonstrated that boys were speaking much more often, and when they did speak, they spoke for longer periods than girls. The interventions of boys were also not of the same nature as those of girls: they made fewer proposals, more criticisms, and sought less compromise.

Research also shows how these biases play a role in different academic topics, especially regarding STEM. For example, in mathematics, much work has shown that, although they are not aware of it, teachers question boys more often, ask them more complex questions that provoke more thought, and encourage them more. Typically, teachers ask girls to recall knowledge or information they have already seen, while they ask boys to construct new or more elaborate knowledge.