Online class instructors more likely to respond to white male students, study finds

March 13, 2018

By Agnes Constante

Overall instructor response rate was 7 percent, but comments made by researchers' white male students received a 12 percent response rate.

Researchers placed eight randomly assigned comments in each forum. Each comment was made by fictitious students whose names were indicative of a specific race (white, black, Indian or Chinese) and gender (male or female).

Authors found that instructors' response rate was almost double for white males than for any other race-gender combination.

“That’s a really dramatic finding because we think the discussion forums are important settings where student engagement and learning motivation gets supported and catalyzed,” Thomas Dee, co-author of the report and director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, said. “If there's this type of bias in who's getting the engagement with the instructor, that, in a way, just reinforces patterns of inequity that many of us care about.”