Engendering Participation, Deliberating Dependence: Inner-City Adolescents' Perceptions of Classroom Practice
by Terri Patchen - 2006
This ethnographic study of high school students' classroom practices and perceptions about participation reveals the extent to which students' perceptions determine their understandings of practice, even when these understandings conflict with researcher observations and the bulk of the literature on gender and participation. This study shows, moreover, that although there were gender-stratified patterns of participation in the classroom between girls and boys, the underlying conceptualizations about what constituted a supportive environment for participation differed little between genders: Both girls and boys revealed themselves as dependent upon teachers, peers, and "knowing." What did differ were the ways in which girls and boys described this dependence and the ways in which they understood what occurred in classrooms. Conducted at a large inner-city high school in California populated primarily by low-income, first-generation Latina/Latino students, classroom research took place over a period of 2 years in a series of Life Skills for the 21st Century classes. Dependent primarily upon formal interviews and participant observations, this research focus was on how particular participation strategies were understood and made manifest in the classroom. Beyond the contributions of new information on the importance of the relationship of perception to practice, this research shows that we need to be cautious when we think about gender issues, and how students, particularly ethnic minorities, understand the classroom dynamic.
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