Psychology students present work in D.C., come home victorious

By Georgiana Rushworth
May 3, 2001

by Georgiana Rushworth
staff writer

Cabrini’s psychology department went to Washington DC last week to compete in the Eastern Psychological Association. Forty students from colleges all over the East Coast participated in the conference, and five of the students were from Cabrini. Each undergraduate student presented their research on various topics to a panel of judges. The judges ranked the 40 students’ topics, but only eight students would be announced as the Regional Research Award winners.

Diana Andrejczak, a senior psychology major and presiding President of Psi Chi, won $300 and was announced as a Regional Research Award winner. She won for having high quality undergraduate research and is now eligible to have her paper published in a periodical journal. She can choose between the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research or the Sociological Inquiry.

“It will be an honor to have my paper published in an undergraduate journal,” Andrejczak said.

Andrejczak’s winning topic was about students’ perception of their teacher’s gender role as masculine, feminine, androgynous (high masculine and feminine qualities), or undifferentiated (low masculine and feminine qualities). Over the course of one year, she collected her data and put together her research. This included giving a test known as the Bem Sex Role Inventory to Cabrini students in the 100 and 200 level science and humanity courses. The survey asked students to rate their teacher’s personality characteristics to determine if they were seen as being masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated.

Once she studied the results from this first test, she proceeded with another survey. This analysis is similar to the survey students are given at the end of every year to rate their teachers. This survey, The Instructional Rating Form, measured the student’s perception of the teacher’s effectiveness, classroom behavior, personality characteristics and over all teaching quality. All together 450 students were surveyed.

Andrejczak evaluated her results and noticed that students who rated their teachers as having an undifferentiated gender role received much lower ratings than those with the masculine, feminine, and androgynous qualities. In addition, if a male teacher was seen as having a feminine gender role, they were rated lower on teaching effectiveness than a female teacher with a masculine gender role. The test showed that it is more acceptable for a female teacher to have a masculine gender role than a male teacher to have a feminine gender role.

Andrejczak came to the conclusion that the personality characteristics of the teachers were more important to the students than their instructor’s biological sex when rated on the quality of instruction.

Andrejczak chose this topic because she believes that student evaluations are really important to schools across the country in determining teacher’s effectiveness.

“The information that comes from student rating surveys are really influential and affect a lot of decisions made by the schools. It is interesting to see if these tests are gender biased and how much gender influences the results. If evaluations are gender biased, then some teachers could be losing out on promotions or missing the beneficial feedback needed to reconstruct ure their classes,” Andrejczak said.

In general, just looking at the sex, not gender role, of the men and women teachers at Cabrini, ratings of teachers effectiveness were high. This means that the students like the quality of instruction they receive from both their male and female teachers and that biological sex, doesn’t have as much of an affect on the way we rate our teachers.

“The Instructional Rating Form that students are given at the end of every semester should be taken seriously. Many students just rush through them, but the information is very important to the administration and faculty and should be to the students. We should help teachers by answering honestly because this may help the quality of instruction we receive,” Andrejczak said.

“I definitely have to thank Dr. Sicoli, Dr. Tomasco and Dr. McKinley. They were so helpful in helping me prepare and get my paper ready for the competition,” Andrejczak said.

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Georgiana Rushworth

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