encouraged and nurtured. It is of particular importance to recognize differences in how students learn (discussed in Chapter 3) and differences in how they participate in class activities (discussed in Chapter 2). Tobias (1990) reported that many bright nonscience majors are discouraged by the lack of a big-picture approach showing the relationships between different concepts. Fewer lecture-only presentations and more group activities can help students experience and understand the exchange of ideas that is essential to science.
Using Inclusive Language Patterns and Examples
Teachers can help create a positive learning environment for all students. Society encourages the beliefs that only few have scientific or mathematical minds and that women are less able than men to learn science or to enter scientific professions (Sonnert and Holton, 1996). Teachers must take care not to set in motion self-fulfilling prophecies based on unproved assumptions regarding students' ability to learn.
An emerging body of research indicates that male and female students exhibit different classroom behaviors and that they are treated differently in class by faculty members (Tannen, 1991; Sandler et al., 1996). Both women and men are prone to gender-biased teaching techniques involving interruptions of student responses, eye contact, modes of addressing students, and stereotypical examples or generalizations (Henes, 1994). Although most faculty members value class participation, male students are more likely to be vocal in class, and teacher behaviors often encourage this difference. Women appear more likely to discuss issues in small groups, especially single-gender groups, than in large classes. Teachers who work to become conscious of gender-related differences and to involve all students will be the most successful in encouraging the learning of both female and male students.
Regardless of a faculty member's background, the diversity of cultures in today's classrooms ensures that some students in each class will be from cultures that differ from the instructor's. Faculty members must not seek to clone themselves or to value unfairly their own traits that are mirrored in some students.
An important issue is whether special activities are needed to recruit and retain women and people of color in the sciences. According to Gibbons (1993), the most important factor in helping students of color to succeed in mathematics and science courses is the personal interest and backing of a faculty member. He suggests inviting students from underrepresented groups to join research labs; being sensitive to concerns of minority students; and being aware that they may need help in finding networks. Project Kaleidoscope's report to the National Science Foundation about what works in undergraduate science courses at liberal arts colleges indicates that cooperative activities, active learning, and connections with practicing researchers and research activities improve the learning environment for all students (Project Kaleidoscope, 1991)
Many students respond best to people with whom they can identify. For some, this means same-gender role models with similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Visitors to class and appropriate examples can help to diversify the role models presented in a class. However, white faculty members can serve as mentors to students from underrepresented groups, and male