Students share research about gender-based violence

January 12, 2015
Dr. Dong Isbister

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville students enrolled in Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies course recently completed research projects that gave them insight into gender-based violence then shared it with others through social media. Gender-based violence is violence directed at a person based on his or her biological sex, gender identity or perceived adherence to socially defined norms of masculinity and femininity.

Dr. Dong Isbister, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at UW-Platteville and Wisconsin Teaching Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year, teaches the course, which includes units on difference and inequality; gender socialization and education; women and work; women, reproduction and motherhood; women and the body; gender and violence; global perspectives, and more.

As part of the Wisconsin Teaching Fellow Award, Isbister was required to design and implement a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project. Isbister’s project, “Team-Based Learning, Gender-Based Violence, and Media Literacy,” aimed to help students develop critical thinking and research skills, create and produce evidence-informed knowledge, and enhance their engagement and motivation through collaborative learning by adapting team-based learning as a feminist pedagogy in her course – with a focus on inclusion, collaboration, sensitivity and personal empowerment.

Students were divided into teams according to self-reported skills and then were assigned a gender-based violence project to reflect a unit focus. Throughout the semester, each team discussed and proposed self- and peer-evaluation rubrics, submitted meeting minutes, completed research and developed their projects. When the projects were completed, students presented the results orally as well as online using WordPress, a web software that allows users to create their own websites and blogs free of charge. Some of the projects already have had followers and multiple hits since they were released.

The projects addressed a variety of topics, including gender-based violence on college campuses; in acid attacks and in the caste system in India; in the military; in the media; in sports; and in cyber bullying. The projects also addressed gender-based violence against individuals who are homosexual as well as domestic violence involving athletes in the National Football League.

“Gender-based violence affects people of all ethnicities, races, classes, religions, education levels and international borders,” said Isbister, quoting a report by the White House. “The education system plays a significant role in educating and preparing students who will be able to identify and critically analyze different forms of gender-based violence. In addition, gender-based violence affects almost everyone and it is equally important to help students be more aware of their own surroundings and roles in ensuring social justice at various levels.”

"The project was really helpful in allowing me to see the perspectives of individuals who I would otherwise never get to witness."

“This team-based learning gender-based violence assignment with integrated technology enabled students to develop or craft their skills in critical thinking, communication and research,” said Isbister. “They also creatively produced evidence-informed knowledge and enhanced their engagement and motivation through collaborative learning. This collaborative learning experience prepared students to engage in more meaningful learning and reflections inside and outside the classroom.”

Isbister said that overall, students had a positive experience participating in the project and disseminating their research via social media, with many students reporting that the team-based learning assignment had helped them become more responsible learners and critical knowledge producers through teamwork and dissemination of knowledge to a larger audience.

One student reflected, “When I first discovered that I’d have to work on a research-based project for the entire semester, I was far less than enthused. However, as the semester went on, and as I learned more and more about my topic of gender-based violence against individuals who are homosexual, I found myself intrigued. The project was really helpful in allowing me to see the perspectives of individuals who I would otherwise never get to witness. It isn’t often the case that we are able to take a peek into the window of another’s existence. I think this project was a great way to get students to not only learn a lot about a given subject, but also learn about themselves and their peers. I am content and gratified to have had the opportunity to work on this project.”

Two other students commented that the assignment was helpful because it made them consider other people’s struggles other than their own and taught them a lot about themselves and how they viewed the world and the people in it.

About using WordPress, one student noted, “I think the WordPress project was a good, fun, innovative way to show research you have done on a particular topic. It’s not as stressful as writing a long paper. I also think that making a WordPress blog, instead of writing a paper, motivates the students to want to finish the project, because it’s fun, new and more technologically involved.”

To view “Gender Based Violence on College Campuses,” “Gender Based Violence – Acid Attacks,” “Cyber-Bullying GBV,” or “Gender Based Violence in the Military,” go to ‪https://gbvproject.wordpress.com/,‬‬‬‪ https://gbvacidattacks.wordpress.com/, https://cyberbullying100.wordpress.com/, https://group5isthebest4.wordpress.com/‬.‬‬‬

Isbister will give a short presentation entitled “WordPress for Engaging Students in Collaborative Research and Writing” on a Technology Mashup panel at UW-Platteville on Jan. 14.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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