Man-only class aims at increasing male retention

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By Joyce Flores

If you haven’t decided what classes to take in the spring semester or what to major in, a good place to start looking is the spring 2008 class schedule.

Besides listing the classes available, the schedule also contains advertisements for special classes.

On Page 33 you can find an advertisement for economics listing famous people who majored in the same field.

Page 72 is an advertisement for the Mexican-American Experience listing the classes a student can take in the spring.

And if you turn to Page 164, an interesting advertisement reads, “Let this be your ticket to an exciting class ‘for males only.’”

The class is SPCH 1311, Fundamentals of Speech, taught by Dr. Archie Wortham.

The class is structured like a normal speech class; the only difference is it is a men-only class. The class was first taught in spring 2007.

Wortham said the class was the result of examining the male to female ratio and the number of males who graduate.

He said that a 2002 first time in college study reported that 34 percent of males graduate compared to 63 percent of females.

He also said that recent studies showed that by the year 2010 for every nine women in college, there will be seven men.

The college Fact Book 2006-07 states that 41 percent of the students enrolled at this college are male and 59 percent are female.

Wortham hoped that a men-only class would help students by providing a comfortable environment in which to encourage one another. “The intent of the course is to increase retention and provide a forum for young men,” Wortham said.

He ran his class with four ground rules: acceptance, affirmation, accountability and authority.

He also invited male professionals to speak to his students in hopes of providing role models.

Wortham also looked at the parental involvement that young boys have.

“Forty percent of homes don’t have male role models,” he said. “In many cases, men don’t have an outlet.”

He said that his classroom provided a place for men to talk about things that they might not be able to talk about if they didn’t have a male leader figure.

They students also talked about issues that they did not feel comfortable talking about with their mothers or girlfriends.

“It’s an environment to talk about things you don’t talk about in other places,” Wortham said.

He added that the outcome was to encourage students to pursue a degree.

The class had eight students who all completed with a B or higher.

Wortham said studies have shown that classes with a single gender have a tendency to do better than coed classes.

Joseph Herraez, radiation therapy sophomore, took Wortham’s class in the spring and earned an A.

Herraez said he took the class because he isn’t a good speaker. “Especially in front of a bunch of girls,” he said.

Herraez said Wortham encouraged the students to get a mentor, adding that even Wortham has a mentor.

Wortham said he hopes that other colleges will adopt his model and maybe branch out into other subjects.

“I’m not offering totally male or female only, but classes like English, speech or math where people are not as comfortable,” Wortham said.

Herraez joked that he wouldn’t take a single gender math class because, “girls are smarter, so you can sit next to them.”

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