Gender Differences and Gender Order in Classroom Discourse and Behaviour A Study of the Singaporean Primary Classroom

Lit Lei Kim, Denise Stephanie

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 1999


    By the time children come to school, they may already possess some socio-cultural constructions acquired from their home environment regarding gender differentiated language and behaviour. Teachers, may also bring with them gendered perceptions and expectations regarding their male and female students' performance and behaviour in the classroom. These may be reflected in their teaching and result in the passive reinforcement of existing gender norms. A large body of research has shown overwhelming male-dominance in many classrooms. Classroom discourse or interaction features play a part in the continual recreation of gender as a social division, as well as contribute to the connotations attached to being female or male. On the other hand, it is also in the classroom, that students can be empowered to resist traditional gender norms and inequalities and challenge restrictive notions, in order to achieve equal success in education. This study aims to investigate the existence of gender differences or the gender order in classroom interaction and behaviours between teachers and students in four Singaporean primary classes. It also aims to elicit teacher's beliefs, perceptions and expectations with regards to their students' gender and performance and to investigate if these are translated into their approaches to teaching and interacting with their students.