THE EFFECT OF GENDER AND SEX ROLE ON TEACHER REFERRAL BIAS AND PERCEPTION OF STUDENT PATHOLOGY

GARY G ROSS-REYNOLDS, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to determine if a relationship exists between teachers' sex-role identity and their perceptions of students as reflected in their assessment of student health/pathology and their referrals to the school psychologist. Teachers' beliefs as to what constitutes sex-role appropriate behavior in children were also examined as they related to teacher referrals. The following question was addressed: What is the effect of teacher personal sex-role identity, and student gender and sex role on teacher assessment of student health/pathology and referral to the school psychologist?^ Using person perception theory, the author hypothesized that teachers would differentially rate the health/pathology and referral priority of male and female, androgynous, masculine, and feminine students, depending on whether the teacher herself was androgynous, masculine, feminine, or undifferentiated. To test this hypothesis, female elementary school teachers were administered the Bem Sex-Role Inventory and the Referral Bias Scale (RBS) developed for this study. The RBS consists of 12 vignettes, half depicting healthy student behavior and half pathologic behavior. Within each of these two categories, two vignettes depicted stereotypically feminine behavior, two stereotypically masculine behavior, and two androgynous behavior. To each pair of vignettes a masculine and a feminine name was assigned. Teachers rated the students' health/pathology on a Likert scale ranging from "Extremely Unhealthy" to "Extremely Healthy." They rated student referral priority on a similar scale ranging from "Refer to School Psychologist; Urgent" to "Do Not See Any Problem Here."^ Data were analyzed by means of separate split-plot factorial analyses of variance with teacher personal sex-role identity as a nonrepeated measure and student gender, sex-role, and pathology as repeated measures. The hypothesized interactions between teacher personal sex role and student sex role and gender were not supported. Consistent with previous research, teachers tended to view stereotypically masculine behavior as healthier than stereotypically feminine behavior. However, contrary to the belief that sex-typing is a desirable process, they rated androgynous behavior in students as healthier than either masculine or feminine behavior. Teachers' preference for masculine behavior was attenuated when the pathologic aspects were considered, with pathologic aspects of feminine behavior viewed as healthier than pathologic aspects of masculine behavior.^ Implications of these findings for the practice of school psychology and teacher training were discussed. Teachers' perceptions of what constitutes sex role appropriate behavior needs to be considered before undertaking child study upon referral, especially if the referred child's behavior is not consistent with their sex role stereotype. Teacher preservice and in-service training is also needed to heighten awareness of sex role issues in the classroom. Further research exploring the effect of teacher personal characteristics on their perceptions of students and teacher referral patterns in natural settings is needed. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

ROSS-REYNOLDS, GARY G, "THE EFFECT OF GENDER AND SEX ROLE ON TEACHER REFERRAL BIAS AND PERCEPTION OF STUDENT PATHOLOGY" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8021001.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8021001

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