Creating An Engaging & Inclusive Environment (read full series)
What is it?
Classrooms are not culturally-neutral spaces as “students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door, nor can they instantly transcend their current level of development” (Ambrose et al., 2010)1 . It is therefore crucial that instructors engage in pedagogical practices that acknowledge and are inclusive of students with various backgrounds, experiences, and identities. This can help ensure that all students have equal opportunities to thrive.
Ambrose et al. (2010) note that thinking critically about how your course climate promotes or hinders student learning is important in any classroom. Course climate is subject to a host of different interacting factors, including:
- faculty-student interaction
- the tone instructors set
- instances of stereotyping or tokenism
- course demographics
- student-to-student interaction
- the range of perspectives represented in the course content and materials.
- of UCD undergraduates agree (or strongly agree) that they feel comfortable with the climate for diversity and inclusion in their classes.
- of UCD undergraduates agree (or strongly agree) that students of their gender are respected on this campus (UCUES, 2018).
Be deliberate when designing group projects to ensure equal opportunities for participation.
Diversify readings and course materials to avoid marginalizing students through content.
Avoid engaging in culturally-held stereotypes of women’s abilities.
Use gender-neutral terms when possible (e.g., “everyone” or “y’all” instead of “you guys”).
Provide course material or lecture content in multiple modalities.
Examine your own assumptions about students’ prior knowledge and experience.
Avoid asking individual students to speak for an entire group (e.g., expect that particular students have expertise about issues that stereotypically impact their communities).
Students say …
- “Some professors introduce themselves with their preferred pronouns and provide opportunities for us to share our own preferred names and pronouns. This is a great way to begin the course.”
- “In some classes, we are allowed to use laptops, tablets, and smartphones freely. This makes me feel more comfortable because I use certain adaptive technologies to access materials and learn.”
- How might your office hours be intimidating, especially for women? How could you better emphasize your availability for mentoring or encourage students to come in groups to office hours?
- How might you limit competition between students within your curriculum and grading practices? What could you do instead?
- 1List of all references in the complete JITT Guide.