Developing awareness of student-to-student hostile environment sexual harassment in online writing classes
Shealy, Mark W.
MetadataShow full item record
Despite increased awareness of sexual harassment in higher education and more students moving to online classes, research on sexual harassment in online classes is virtually nonexistent. I report on the first study of its type. My study addresses the issue of student-to-student sexual harassment in online writing classes using data gathered through a survey and interviews with writing teachers and administrators. I discuss how 1) hostile environment sexual harassment can occur within online writing classrooms, 2) instructors and administrators may be unaware of this harassment, and 3) policies that address on-campus sexual harassment may not apply to online classes. To begin I share narratives of student-to-student sexual harassment that occurred in two of my online writing classes. To gather data, I use a survey distributed to instructors and administrators with an interest in online education and/or sexual harassment; I sent this survey through the WPA listserv and two Facebook groups. I follow up with interviews from survey participants who volunteered. Survey data compared with interview data reveals that educators may not realize the degree to which sexual harassment occurs in online classes, yet they often claim to be able to deal with any sexual harassment situation that may occur in online classes. Educators need a stronger understanding of sexual harassment in online class spaces as a real problem and of the necessity for more research and better policies in dealing with this form of harassment.