Beyond a focus on textbooks: Negotiating English language and physics gendered textbook constructions in Ugandan secondary school classrooms
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This study exceeded the dominant focus on textbooks to include teacher and student classroom engagements with them. It was guided by three research questions: i) In what ways might English and physics textbooks in Ugandan secondary schools construct gender? ii) How do teachers use gendered texts in the classroom? What discourses and practices circulate within teacher and student “formal” classroom interactions around gendered texts? iii) In what ways do teachers and students respond to gendered constructions within their school textbooks? What discourses and practices are cited in their responses? Informed by a feminist post-structural framework, I made use of a qualitative case study approach, with documentary analysis, classroom observations, and in-depth as well as group interviews with teachers and students respectively, to tap into discursive resources that informed negotiation of gender as constructed in English and physics PREVIEW textbooks in two diverse school sites in Uganda. The data analysis was undertaken using feminist post-structural discourse analysis and reflexivity. My findings revealed firstly, that while gender as constructed in English textbooks has shifted from invisibility of women to their marginalization, gender as constructed in physics textbooks continues to privilege a masculine image. Secondly, contrary to teachers’ claims, their text selection and use was implicitly informed by gendered essentialist assumptions. Thirdly, teachers and students did not passively take up gendered images as produced in their textbooks. Rather, they weighed these against their own understandings, based on which they took up and/or resisted them. As such, fixing textbooks with more “progressive” gendered images did not guarantee their legitimation. The study provides insights into considerations for constructing gender in textbooks. It also dislodges pervasive assumptions regarding gender as a concern of the text rather than its readers, demonstrating that teachers and students in fact, bring their gendered, sexed, raced, classed lenses as filters against which gendered texts are taken up and/or rejected. The study contributes to the paucity of work on classroom engagements with gendered texts, student perspectives regarding these texts, gender arrangements within African science classrooms. It illuminates how discourses are networked, tapping into discursive resources that inform negotiation of gendered textbooks.
- Doctoral Thesis 
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