Empowering Students via Autoethnography Assignment: Fostering Inclusive Communities for Gender and Sexuality in Social Inequality Class
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Keywords:autoethnography, campus climate, content analysis, LGBTQIA community, safe spaces
Discrimination is still a prominent and widely faced issue on college campuses across the United States, especially regarding gender and sexuality. In this research, we utilized autoethnography as a pedagogical methodology to illustrate and understand students’ experiences in the college environment, such as feelings of invisibility, isolation, being unsafe, danger, and unaccepted. This study explores the use of autoethnography to improve campus environments and analyzes perception changes within autoethnography as they relate to gender and sexuality. Data were collected from 146 students in SOC 3010 Social Inequality in the Fall of 2019 and Spring of 2020 courses at Utah State University. Participants were asked to write a term paper in which the provided topics included gender, sexuality, religion, race, and mental health. We used content analysis to evaluate the students’ submissions, which included themes such as exposure to people of different genders, limited perspective, learning about others' experiences, and having someone important in life that belongs to the LGBTQIA+ community". This study finds a positive change in perspective regarding gender and sexuality when autoethnographies are employed in the classroom.
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