Dissecting the voice: Health professions students' perceptions of instructor age and gender in an online environment and the impact on evaluations for faculty
journal contributionposted on 20.11.2017, 00:00 by Alison F. Doubleday, Lisa M.J. Lee
Gender and age biases are well documented in academia and many studies demonstrate bias in students’ evaluation of instructors. An instructor’s violation of gender-based expectations can translate to lower scores or negative comments on evaluations. To compound the matter, decreased contact hours and increased blended learning in health sciences curricula has elevated the importance of digital resources. The changing landscape of anatomical sciences education has come to rely on pre-recorded lectures or videos to support or replace face-toface interactions. While there is evidence of bias in students’ evaluations of online instructors, studies with health sciences students is lacking. First-year dental students at two institutions viewed a video on spinal cord anatomy narrated by one of four individuals of different gender and age. Students completed a prequiz and postquiz followed by a questionnaire evaluating the video and instructor based on instructor vocal characteristics. Results revealed gender and age bias in student evaluations of online instructors, with the older female voice receiving the lowest rankings. Students at Institution A scored the younger male and younger female voices highest. At Institution B the older male and younger female received the highest scores. The differences is results from the two samples suggest that the gender and age of in-class instructors has a significant impact on how students perceive members of these groups and on how online instructors are evaluated. This report has implications for the career trajectory of female faculty and perpetuation of bias against aging female faculty in the increasingly digital educational environment.