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Appendix A: Cash & Carry Perceptions for Instructors

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This is usually a two-day activity (can be adapted to be shorted if you want).  I do this after at least 3 days in class so students have had a sense about who I am.  First they answer the questions alone (10-ish minutes). 

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I get them into groups and they compare answers (20-ish minutes—it’s hilarious to eavesdrop on their group discussions). 

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I list categories on the board and I have each group give me the predominant answer for each category.  As we list answers, I also guide them in mini-discussions about stereotypes and how perceptions get formed (I have notes on this as well for a more in-depth lecture later).

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I NEVER give them the real answers until we have a composite for each category from every group (this is what takes time.  You can shorten by doing class discussion on only a few of the items—they usually want to know it all though).

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I then go through and summarize the different “me’s” they have produced on the board.

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Finally, I go through and tell them the real answers to which they are usually shocked.

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I used to shock 101 students and often high school students with the relationship question.  I have a partner named Chris (we’ve been together going on 15 years).  They are usually cool with this until I mention the possibility that Chris might stand for Christina.  When I tell them Chris stands for Christopher, there is usually visual relief from the students. I comment on this as well.  Good opener also for telling them about not using any homophobic language in class, etc.  Kinda’ risky and not for everybody.  Adapt as you see fit. This used to be contentious years ago - not so much so now.

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I like to conclude with a speech / discussion on student stereotypes and perceptions.  I point to an African-American female and ask her if she wants me to treat her and interact with her assuming she is the stereotypical “Angry-Black-Female.”  I point out an athlete or a “farmer kid” or a “Barbie doll” and do the same thing.  Of course they all answer “NO.”   They usually have stories about being stereotyped and they are often negative.

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This naturally leads into the discussion of the perception essay I want them to do.  Most are excited about the writing assignment.  A few upper-middle-class, quiet, white females will usually say they have nothing to write about.  This can lead to a discussion of whiteness studies / white privilege. Otherwise, they have no problems with the assignment that follows.

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Overall, a good opener for the school year and tends to set the tone of my classroom. 

 

Appendix B: Perception Handout

Perceptions and First Impressions

Answer the following questions about your instructor.  Include a rationale for each of your responses.  For example, your reasoning may not be based on anything more than the way s/he dresses, the way s/he talks, or how her/his room is decorated; but be able to explain WHAT you think his/her dress style, speech, etc. says about herm.  The only rule is that you cannot answer with, “I know because so-and-so told me.”  That doesn’t count.  

 

  1. Where did your instructor grow up?

 

  1. What did his/ her parents do for a living?

  

  1. How big is his/ her family?  Does she have any siblings?

 

  1. What are his/ her hobbies?

 

  1. Does s/he have any pets?  If so, what kind?

 

  1. What kind of student was s/he in high school?

 

  1. What kind of car does s/he drive?

 

  1. What political party does s/he belong to?

 

  1. What kind of music does s/he listen to?

 

  1. Is s/he in a relationship?  If so, what kind?