Dara Gay Shaw

Date of Graduation


Document Type



The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of gender dynamics and culture on interaction in the adult ESOL, from the teachers', students', and observer's points of view. Using an ethnographic methodology, the researcher drew from class observations, videotaped segments of classroom interaction, teachers' self-evaluations of gender equity in instruction, and their responses to gender dynamics scenarios, student responses to classroom photographs, as well as student, teacher, and administrator interviews. Fifteen research questions were divided into three sections: Cross-cultural Context, Gender Dynamics and Classroom Interactions. The Cross-cultural Context research questions centered on the perceptions and expectations of the teachers and students concerning features of classroom interaction, classroom behavior and diverse cultural backgrounds. The Gender Dynamics questions focused on the evidence of ESOL classroom gender dynamics, and on differences in verbal and non-verbal teacher treatment of male and female students. The Classroom Interaction questions focused on the perceptions and expectations of teachers and students regarding classroom gender dynamics and strategies for managing cross-cultural gender tension, and facilitating multicultural community in the adult ESOL classroom. Some themes that emerged in the study were sexual harassment, gender identity and homophobia, gender equity, prejudice and discrimination, classroom community, use of controversial lesson content, cross-cultural conflict, student-teacher infatuation, violence, and use of gender-fair teaching practices. Results include discussion on how: (1) the cross-cultural context of the ESOL classroom influences the learning experience and the teachers' approaches to curriculum and instruction; (2) cross-cultural gender dynamics can cause conflict and tension for teachers and students; (3) management of problems concerning gender-dynamics require teacher insight and expertise; (4) teachers construct strategies to manage gender tension and conflict and (5) gender-fair teaching practices are rarely taught to ESOL teachers and are under utilized in the classroom.