Gender Interaction in Coed Physical Education: A Study in Turkey

By Koca, Canan | Adolescence, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Gender Interaction in Coed Physical Education: A Study in Turkey


Koca, Canan, Adolescence


INTRODUCTION

Gender equality has long been an issue in the field of education, with a growing body of research pointing toward the continued prevalence of gender inequality in the classroom. Although there has been a longstanding debate about whether a single-sex or mixed-sex environment is better for each gender in: many Western countries, coeducation is one of the taken-for-granted issues in the modern Turkish education system as part of a national modernization project. This study examined commonly expressed concerns about gender equality in coed PE by focusing on the teachers' and students' gender-stereotyped beliefs in their association with teacher-student interactions in Turkey.

After implementing gender equity policies (Title IX) in many Western countries, many researchers have noted some problems with coeducation in many settings, including PE. In this regard, a number of recent studies have highlighted the continuing debate on the contribution of coed PE classes in providing equal opportunities for girls regarding physical activities (Osborne, Bauer, & Sutlif, 2002; Treanor, Graber, Housner, & Wiegand, 1998) and moving on to focus on PE as a site for the reproduction of gender-stereotyped beliefs in society. It has been suggested by many authors that providing mixed-sex classes does not by itself change the gender equality that is implemented in schools (Hargreaves, 1994; Talbot, 1996).

Gender Equality and Coeducation

Gender equality is a field of professional and political effort with the purpose of creating equal opportunity for all children. Throughout the 1980s, liberal feminists in particular made a significant contribution to the debate on gender equality and coeducation. They believe that society should give women the same educational and occupational opportunities that men have. Therefore, liberal feminist arguments concerning coeducation represented important educational reform that affects equal rights.

Based on this equal opportunity rationale, coeducational PE has progressed toward the realization of an equal opportunity education policy. For example, many researchers have claimed that coed PE provides equal opportunities for participation and allows females and males to socially interact (Colgate, 1999; Davis, 1999; Griffin, 1984; Knoppers, 1988). Whereas many authors have questioned the delivery of coeducational PE, some authors (Hannon & Williams, 2008; Piotrowski, 2000; Shimon, 2005); Evans, Davies, & Penny, (1997) noted that the process must go beyond access if gender equality is to be achieved. Equality of opportunity in PE entails many issues, such as the meaning of equality, the impact of individual and group differences on equality of opportunity, and wider issues relating to power relations and equity in society (Piotrowski, 2000, p. 26). Within the context of this study, demand for equal opportunity in PE includes issues of gender interaction and the reflection of gender-stereotyped beliefs in the classroom. It could be argued that the consequences of gender interaction between teacher and students and gender-stereotyped beliefs may affect opportunities to participate in PE class.

Gender Interaction and Gender-stereotyped Beliefs in Coeducational PE

Some researchers believe that the quality of classroom interaction affects the growth and education of all students, and that teachers have a responsibility to model gender-fair attitudes in their classrooms (Jones, 1989; Sadker & Sadker, 1994), whereas many studies have indicated that teachers tend to interact differently with boys than with girls and that boys were involved in more interactions with teachers (Bailey, 1993; Duffy, Warren & Walsh, 2001; Hopf & Hatzichristou, 1999; Jackson & Salisbury, 1996; Younger, Warrington, & Williams, 1999). For instance, D'Ambrosio and Hammer (1996) investigated gender interaction by using INTERSECT which is a kind of observational instrument in the junior high school settings and they found that boys received more praise, remedials, acceptance, and criticism interactions. …

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