Leveling the Playing Field: How Cold-Calling Affects Class Discussion Gender Equity

  •  Elise J. Dallimore    
  •  Julie H. Hertenstein    
  •  Marjorie B. Platt    


Classroom discussion is widely used and highly valued for actively engaging students in their own learning. A recent study has shown that cold-calling increases the number of students who participate voluntarily in class discussions and does not make them uncomfortable when doing so (Dallimore, Hertenstein, & Platt, 2013). However, there are concerns about whether these findings generally apply to both men and women students since prior research has documented lower participation rates and higher discomfort for women.

This study examines the relationship between cold-calling and a) voluntary participation of both men and women students and b) student comfort participating in class discussions. The results show that cold-calling increases the percentage of both men and women who participate voluntarily. Further, the results indicate in high cold-calling classes women answer the same number of volunteer questions as men. Additionally, increased cold-calling did not make either group uncomfortable. However, differences were observed between men and women in low cold-calling environments where women answered fewer questions than men. Thus, cold-calling may help improve the performance of both men and women in class discussions and may make the classroom environment more equitable for women.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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