Delineation of an operational definition of "sexuality comfort" utilizing a semistructured interview guide Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/w95052629

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  • The literature asserts that sexuality educators should be comfortable with sexuality. In fact, some authors suggest that comfort with sexuality is a major criterion for qualification as a sexuality educator. Yet, the literature is vague and assuming and what the concept of comfort with sexuality means to teachers. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was to delineate an operational definition of the psychological construct, "sexuality comfort." An operational definition was noted to be one which tells what to do to experience the thing defined. A semi-structured interview guide was developed with input from a panel of experts. Data were collected through personal interviews with a select group of 32 Oregon sexuality educators. Twenty-three subjects comprised a subsample of high school health teachers who teach sexuality as part of health education. Nine subjects formed a subsample of college sexuality educators who are the "teachers of the teachers." Non-parametric statistics were used to analyze the data. The Mann-Whitney U was chosen for research question 2 and chi square was chosen for research question 3. Research questions 1, 4 and 5 were not addressed statistically. Subjects acknowledged throughout the interviews that sexuality comfort is extremely important to sexuality educators. Major concerns about its importance were that (a) it influences teaching effectiveness (primarily through an effect on the ability to communicate) and (b) it influences students' feelings and attitudes toward sexuality. Subjects were asked to define sexuality comfort -- both personally and as an educator. A significant difference (p.[less than or equal to] .05) occurred between the subsamples in their definitions of personal sexuality comfort. Definitions from high school subjects emphasized more "the ability to communicate" whereas definitions from college subjects emphasized more "respect for others' sexual values." There was no significant difference (p. [less than or equal to] .05) between college and high school subjects' definitions of sexuality comfort -- as an educator (general sexuality comfort). Statistical analysis detected a significant difference (p. [less than or equal to] .05) between the subsamples in terms of ranks they ascribed to five characteristics important to sexuality educators, including sexuality comfort. "The ability to communicate about sexuality honestly, sensitively, clearly" was the characteristic responsible for this difference. Again, high school subjects emphasized this quality more than college subjects. Data provided the basis for a two-part operational definition of sexuality comfort. Part one of the definition provides evidences of sexuality comfort in sexuality educators. Part two defines sexuality comfort as a developmental task which may be accomplished by making opportunities for specific experiences which enhance it. Major recommendations were directed toward teacher preparation programs and how they might appropriately address the issue of teacher sexuality comfort. Recommendations for future research were also presented.
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