The Effects of a Human Sexuality Course on College Students' Sexual Attitudes and Perceived Course Outcomes

By Pettijohn, Terry F., II; Dunlap, Audrey V. | Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Annual 2010 | Go to article overview

The Effects of a Human Sexuality Course on College Students' Sexual Attitudes and Perceived Course Outcomes


Pettijohn, Terry F., II, Dunlap, Audrey V., Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality


Introduction

While students enrolled in a human sexuality course would certainly be expected to show increased sexuality knowledge at the end of the course, educators and researchers are also finding encouraging, positive changes in student attitudes regarding sexual behavior, relationships, prejudice, and tolerance for alternative lifestyles and practices. Human sexuality education has the potential to inform individuals and thereby potentially reduce social problems related to teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual abuse and harassment, as well as enhance interpersonal relationships, sexual health, and acceptance of variations in sexual beliefs and practices (Advocates for Youth, 2009; Dallager & Rosen, 1993). While there have been numerous studies aimed at investigating the influence of human sexuality education on individual attitudes and behaviors, the current study focuses on contemporary changes in attitudes related to tolerance and acceptance of variations in sexuality using relatively unfamiliar sexual attitudes measures. It is important to continually assess human sexuality education impacts due to constant changing cultural and generational differences in sexuality (Peterson & Hyde, 2010).

Past Studies on Student Attitude Changes in Human Sexuality Courses

Researchers have found students who complete a human sexuality course show a variety of attitudinal changes. Students typically report a more liberal position concerning sexuality (Rees & Zimmerman, 1974), reporting feeling more sexually liberated, showing greater tolerance and acceptance of the differing sexual practices of others, and experiencing less sexual guilt upon completion of a human sexuality course (Gunderson & McCary, 1980). A study by Craig (1986) also found that students experienced decreased sexual anxiety after completing a human sexuality course, and this reduction of anxiety was maintained during a follow-up examination a semester later. Others have found reductions in the sexist double standard, and greater acceptance for sexual variance, masturbation, homosexuality, and use of birth control at the end of a human sexuality course (Godow & LaFave, 1979).

Dallager and Rosen (1993) investigated attitudes toward rape victims and rape myths in a human sexuality course. Findings showed that participants reported significantly less accepting attitudes of rape myths at the end of the course (Dallager & Rosen, 1993). Furthermore, Fisher (1986) found students who completed a human sexuality course were more likely to reject date rape attitudes and have more liberal attitudes toward women. Studies such as these demonstrate how sharing knowledge about human sexuality and rape have the capacity to discourage faulty beliefs about sexual abuse and create a less supportive environment for these negative attitudes about sexuality to cultivate.

Finken (2002) compared anti-gay, prejudicial attitudes of students enrolled in a human sexuality course and a child development course. Pre-test measures revealed no initial significant differences between the experimental and control group, as well as no significant differences between males or females enrolled in either class, in their homosexual attitudes. At the end of the semester, post-test measures indicated that students who had taken the human sexuality course reported less anti-gay beliefs than the control group. Finken also found that, in comparison to men, women reported less homonegativity and a greater decrease in anti-gay prejudice. Based on these findings, Finken (2002) demonstrates how a classroom environment and specific course content can promote social acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality and other sexual variations. Similarly, Rogers, McRee, and Arntz (2009) found students enrolled in a human sexuality course reported significantly lower homophobia scores upon completion of the course. An increase in sexual knowledge partially explained the reduction in negative homophobic attitudes, suggesting education plays an important role in combating harmful attitudes about homosexuality.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Effects of a Human Sexuality Course on College Students' Sexual Attitudes and Perceived Course Outcomes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.