Research on gender bias during student teaching experiences

I taught in elementary schools for ten years; third, fourth, and fifth grades. Then I decided to go back to school and get my PhD while staying home and raising children. I ended up raising two boys, then a girl during the day while going to school at night. I have now finished all of my course work and am preparing for my comprehensive exams. I have also gone back to teaching in the classroom; fifth grade.

As I examined the research that has been done on men in elementary schools (I call them M.E.T.s for Male Elementary Teachers) I saw that most of the research that had been done was examining why more men did not go into teaching young children. Then one article caught my eye.

Oyler, C., Jennings, G. T., & Lozada, P. (2001). Silenced gender: The construction of a male primary educator. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 367-379.

Lozada is a retired marine who goes into elementary education and during his first semester of student teaching, his mentor teacher has a problem with how Lozada disciplines a girl. Lozada tries to quiet a girl by putting his hand on her wrist. The teacher was upset and said that by touching a child he has put himself and her at risk. During a conference with everyone involved, Oyler asked the teacher if she would have been upset if a female teacher had disciplined the child with the same touch. The teacher admitted that it would not have bothered her if a female had done the same thing. This article got me thnking about gender bias during student teaching experiences. Since then I have devised a research study to examine the occurence of gender bias in student teaching observations. Are men being unfairly treated because of gender bias?

Now I am stuck. What would be the best way to examine if male preservice teachers are being unfairly judged? Is it common for educators to believe that certain behaviors are appropriate for female teachers but not for males?

I need some advice on how to frame this study.

What should the research question(s) be?

How do I introduce the background to justify a scholarly research study?

Merritt Arnold
Athens, GA
merrittarnold@gmail.com