Are College Students “Naturally Biased” Against Female Instructors?

Are College Students “Naturally Biased” Against Female Instructors?

A new study claiming to demonstrate bias in how college students evaluate female instructors has been making a lot of waves in the media recently. The study, published in the journal Innovative Higher Education, found that students in an online course gave lower ratings to instructors who were presented as female compared to those who were presented as male.  In response, Slate ran an article entitled “Best Way For Professors To Get Good Student Evaluations? Be Male,” in which they called the results of this study “astonishing” and concluded that “men still get bonus points for showing up male.” Likewise, Jezebel ran an article entitled “Students Give Male Instructors Better Evaluations, Says Science,” in which they claimed that this study demonstrates that “college students are naturally biased against female instructors.” But are college students in general really so hostile to the idea of being taught by women? Looking across all of the science out there on this topic, you’ll find that the story is much more complicated than these media reports let on.

Read More

How Course Titles Affect Student Interest In College Diversity Courses

How Course Titles Affect Student Interest In College Diversity Courses

Diversity courses dealing with sexuality, gender, and race offer a range of benefits to the students who take them. As a result, U.S. colleges and universities are increasingly adding such courses to their curricula, with many now requiring students to take a certain number of them in order to graduate. Requiring that students take diversity courses does not guarantee that they will benefit from them, though, because the benefits of such classes depend, to some extent, upon students’ initial attitudes toward the course. Those attitudes are crucial because they shape how students approach the material and how engaged they become with it. However, we know relatively little about the factors that shape these initial attitudes. In order to address this knowledge gap, one of my colleagues (Dr. Jennifer Spoor of LaTrobe University) and I conducted an experiment to see how the title of a diversity course dealing with women’s and gender issues affects students’ perceptions of it and their interest in taking it. We focused on course title because it is usually the very first piece of information students hear about a course and, as such, may be the point at which attitudes toward a class begin to take shape.

Read More

The Psychology of Human Sexuality Is Now In Print!

The Psychology of Human Sexuality Is Now In Print!

I have been teaching college level human sexuality courses for nearly a decade. However, during all of that time, I could never find the right textbook. Certainly, there are a lot of fantastic sex books out there written by superstars in the field, but they just don’t offer the perspective that I take in my class. Most of them are very clinical and/or biological in nature, which just isn’t the best match for the way I approach this subject. As someone who teaches in a psychology department, I want a book that really demonstrates the psychological importance of sex and that delves into psychological theory. My students want this too. In fact, for the first several years I taught this class, my end-of-semester evaluations had a lot of comments along the lines of “great class, but where’s the psychology?” Given that I couldn’t find a book that met my needs and the needs of my students, I decided to write my own.

I began working on this book three years ago, and I pleased to say that it is now officially in print! The end result is a 424-page text entitled The Psychology of Human Sexuality. In a nutshell, this book provides a comprehensive overview of human sexual behavior from a biopsychosocial perspective. What this means is that while I put psychology front and center throughout, I also acknowledge and consider biological, evolutionary, and socio-cultural factors that influence our sexuality. 

Read More

College Professor Told To Stop Teaching About Prostitution, Or Else

College Professor Told To Stop Teaching About Prostitution, Or Else

Dr. Patricia Adler, who teaches a popular course on the topic of deviance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was recently warned by university administrators that she must stop giving her regular lecture on prostitution, or run the risk of being fired and losing her retirement benefits. Adler, who has reportedly given this lecture forty times over the last two decades, was stunned by this development, as were many college faculty members around the world, myself included.

Read More

Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

For the last several years, the popular media has been running story after story about college “hookup culture.” These articles argue that today’s youth are more sex-crazed than previous generations and that casual sex is largely replacing traditional dating and relationships. But is there any truth to these frequent claims?  A closer look at trends in sexual behavior reveals that college students today are no more sexually active than students were a couple of decades ago.


Read More

Have Some Human Sexuality Courses Crossed The Line?

There has been a lot of controversy over college-level Human Sexuality courses lately. For instance, a student at Western Nevada College just filed a lawsuit against her school and instructor because she attended a Human Sexuality course in which students were allegedly required to masturbate, keep a sex journal, and discuss their own sexual history as part of a paper assignment. And last year, a well-known sex researcher made headlines after it was discovered that he held an event for his Human Sexuality students outside of class in which a nude woman was sexually stimulated by a motorized sex toy on stage. These are just a few examples of cases where the media has questioned whether some of these classes have simply gone too far (see here for details on a few other cases that have attracted media attention over the years). In this article, I offer my thoughts on this subject based upon my own teaching experiences.  
Read More

Sex Question Friday: How Do I Become A Sex Therapist?

Sex Question Friday: How Do I Become A Sex Therapist?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week’s question comes from a reader of the blog who wanted to know what advice I have to offer the aspiring Dr. Ruths of the world.

I am currently a psychology student and I am looking into studying sex and relationship therapy for a career, which lead me to find your website on the Psychology of Human Sexuality. I was wondering if you have any advice for me in regards to graduate school or internship opportunities in the field.

Read More