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The female “confidence gap” and feminist pedagogy: Gender dynamics in the active, engaged classroom

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This chapter reviews how gender dynamics influence student engagement and performance in active-learning settings and explains how we might employ feminist pedagogy to more fully consider the role gender plays in an active-learning environment. First, common practices and benefits of active, engaged learning are viewed. Second, relevant research and faculty development materials that investigate gender dynamics in the college classroom are discussed, exploring in particular what we know about how male and female students regard their own abilities and performances. The general consensus is that female students consistently underrate and misinterpret their abilities while male students consistently overrate their abilities; male students attribute their successes to innate ability, while female students attribute successes to luck, effort, or support from others. Finally, methods instructors have employed in active, engaged classrooms are investigated to explore how these may be revised, drawing heavily on feminist pedagogy, to offer solutions to help students of all genders succeed in these high-impact environments.




Irvin, A. L. (2017). The female “confidence gap” and feminist pedagogy: Gender dynamics in the active, engaged classroom. In Critical Approaches to Women and Gender in Higher Education (pp. 259–276). Palgrave Macmillan.

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