Inclusive Teaching Strategies: Reflecting on Your Practice

How do you engage with students? How do students see themselves in the content of your course? How are students expected to engage with each other?

Here are some strategies compiled from the University of Michigan with permission. Which ones do you do already? Which ones might you try?

Instructor ­ Student Interactions

  • Learn and use students’ names they choose to be called.
  • Clarify how you want students to address you, especially if you teach students from a range of educational and cultural backgrounds.
  • Distribute a student background questionnaire early in the term to learn about students’ experience with the course topics, educational background, professional ambitions, general interests, etc.
  • Encourage students to visit during office hours and use that time to ask about their experiences with course topics as well as their other interests.
  • Communicate high expectations and your belief that all students can succeed.
  • Allow for struggle and failure/challenge as important parts of the learning process, not signs of student deficiency.
  • Seek multiple answers or perspectives to questions.
  • Avoid making generalizations about student experiences.
  • Avoid making jokes at students’ expense.
  • Refrain from asking individual students to speak for a social identity group, particularly marginalized groups.
  • Communicate concern for students’ well­being, and share information about campus resources (e.g., Student Wellness Centre, Student Affairs and Outreach, Access and Equity Services, USask Community Centre).
  • Solicit requests for documented accommodations as a chance to include everyone more fully in learning.
  • Give verbal instructions AND a written corollary. (Multiple modes can be helpful to students with processing disabilities as well as non-native English speakers.)
  • Carefully frame objectives when raising potentially sensitive or uncomfortable topics.
  • Model productive disagreement, showing how to critique a statement or idea rather than the speaker.
  • Stop or intervene in a discussion if comments become disparaging or devalue other students’ experiences.
  • Allow ample time for any in class activities that require substantial reading, and provide guidance that reflects the fact that processing times will vary (e.g., how to approach the task given you may not finish reading, or what to do if you do finish it before the time is up).
  • Elicit formative feedback from students about their learning experiences in the course (e.g. facilitated Midsemester Feedback session or survey).
  • Ask a trusted colleague or GMCTL education development specialist to observe your class and collect data about how you include or interact with different students.

 

Student ­ Student Interactions

  • Encourage students to learn and use one another’s names.
  • Use icebreakers regularly so students can learn about one another.
  • Establish guidelines, ground rules, or community agreements for class participation.
  • In class, have students work in pairs, triads, or small groups.
  • Have students write and share about how their background can contribute to a particular class activity.
  • For long term teams, structure in check-ins and opportunities for peer feedback about group process.
  • On the syllabus, identify collaboration or perspective taking as skills students will build in the course.
  • In class, explain the value of collaboration for learning. Speak of students’ diverse perspectives as an asset.
  • Provide students opportunities to reflect on what they learned through collaborative activities (formal or informal).
  • Deliberately assign students to small, heterogeneous groups that do not isolate underrepresented students.
  • Set up study groups that deliberately group students with different strengths.
  • Have students complete a self-assessment inventory and discuss with peers.
  • Have students complete low stakes small group activities that help them see and value the contributions of others.
  • Establish ways for students to intervene if they feel a certain perspective is being undervalued or not acknowledged.

Content

  • Choose readings that deliberately reflect the diversity of contributors to the field.
  • Use visuals that do not reinforce stereotypes but do include diverse people or perspectives.
  • Use diverse examples to illustrate concepts, drawing upon a range of domains of information.
  • Explain references that are likely to be unfamiliar to some students based on their backgrounds (e.g., citing dominant pop culture or relying on regionalisms such as bunnyhug).
  • Emphasize the range of identities and backgrounds of experts who have contributed to a given field.
  • Use varied names and socio­cultural contexts in test questions, assignments, and case studies.
  • Teach the conflicts of the field to incorporate diverse perspectives.
  • Deliberately choose course materials with a range of student physical abilities in mind.
  • Deliberately choose course materials with students’ range of financial resources in mind.
  • Analyze the content of your examples, analogies, and humour; too narrow a perspective may alienate students with different views or background knowledge.
  • Include authors’ full names, not just initials, in citations. (This can help emphasize gender diversity or unsettle assumptions about authorship).
  • Assess students’ prior knowledge about your course objectives to better align instruction with their needs.
  • Help students connect their prior knowledge to new learning (e.g., before introducing a new topic ask students individually to reflect on what they already know about the topic).
  • Invite students to identify examples that illustrate course concepts.
  • Use a variety of teaching methods and modalities (verbal, visual, interactive, didactic, etc.)
  • Ask students for concrete observations about content (e.g., a reading, image, set of data) before moving to analytical questions. (This can give everyone a common starting point and model analytical processes you want to teach).
  • Use a pace that lets students take notes during lecture.
  • Clarify the expectations and grading scheme for each assignment before students start working on it.
  • Create time in class for students to discuss and ask questions about assignments or assignment expectations.
  • Emphasize the larger purpose or value of the material you are studying.
  • Structure discussions to include a range of voices: e.g., take a queue, ask to hear from those who have not spoken, wait until several hands are raised to call on anyone, use think­pair­share activities.
  • Use brief in class writing activities to get feedback on what students are learning and thinking.

Adapted with permission from Erping Zhu, University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). Their format and content adapted from Linse & Weinstein, Shreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State, 2015. For information about the research behind these strategies, see http://crlt.umich.edu/node/90467  

Inclusive Strategies Handout (pdf)

Internationalization of Teaching & Learning : Featured Instructor

Photo provided by Dr Lucy R. Hinnie

Dr Lucy R. Hinnie
Postdoctoral Fellow

Lucy is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of English and completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In her work, she looks at written text through the frame of intersectionality, interrogating the accepted ‘canon’ of white male scholars and looking to find relevance to every student, regardless of their background.

She has a desire to strengthen her teaching practice and do better by all of her students.

She took the internationalization short course because she has a desire to strengthen her teaching practice and do better by all of her students, especially those who face difficulties in what is perceived to be standard classroom situations. For her, successful internationalization will look like an enthusiastic and multicultural student body who can engage in safe learning spaces with cultural sensitivity and awareness.

Connect with Lucy to learn more: lucyrhinnie.co.uk

Internationalization of Teaching and Learning : Featured Instructor

Jocelyn Peltier-Huntley, M. Sc., P. Eng.

Photo provided by Jocelyn Peltier-Huntley

Lecturer, College of Engineering

Jocelyn is a professional mechanical engineer. Her research is around understanding the gender gap in the Canadian mining industry. At a personal level, she wants to see positive change happen to move towards equity within our society. As an instructor of engineering design and communications, and as a professional, she feels it is vitally important to know how to understand and work with stakeholders who may be from a variety of backgrounds and have different ways of knowing.

Successful internationalization allows for all people to be fully included and empowered…

She took the internationalization short course to improve her teaching practices and also to help inform how she frames the messaging of her research on gender equity. Jocelyn believes that successful internationalization allows for all people to be fully included and empowered to fully participate and achieve their full potential in their education, careers, and lives.

Connect with Jocelyn to learn more: https://engineering.usask.ca/people/sopd/Peltier-Huntley,Jocelyn.php

How do I internationalize my course?

Self-reflection

Step 1: Know my position and privilege. Who am I as a teacher? (This idea isn’t new, check out this article from 1958: Teacher, Know Thyself)

Step 2: Does the way I design my course plan for access and diversity?

Step 3: Do I want to “add-on”, “infuse”, or “transform” my course through internationalization?

Some direction

If you are working on step 3, there is an excellent resource of teaching tips here: Strategies for Course Internationalization. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.

A simple way to start internationalization is to add assigned readings from international perspectives. This can be a way to start conversations and look for similarities and differences in findings. Even the writing and presentation structure might reflect cultural differences.

Next, take a look at your course outcomes – are students expected to develop or use intercultural competencies? How might the next version of your course highlight internationalized or global community skills?

Onwards on this journey, it’s time to look at evaluation. Inclusive assessment should include students using a metacognitive process to track their development. If that sentence doesn’t make sense on first reading, try this: a student needs to be able to know what they know and how they know it at any stage of learning. If they are just beginning, they should be able to identify that, recognize when they are building knowledge/skills/attitudes, and ultimately know when they’ve mastered or achieved the outcome of the learning. When students are involved in the assessment process, they are demonstrating choice, responsibility, and reflection. These are all attributes of inclusive learning which is fundamental to internationalization.

Here is another list of tips and tricks to start internationalizing your course.

This post is part of a series in internationalization. You can follow along here.

Come say hi! We’re at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning. We can help individually or direct you to one of our workshops to meet your needs.

 

From Modelling to Designing Intercultural Curricula

You now know that you have pretty decent intercultural teaching capacities.

You have continued to develop an awareness of your own identity and are modelling perspective-taking. Students in your course have the opportunity to interact with different worldviews because you know that makes them smarter. You actively create opportunities to build relationships between ‘others’ and can recognize barriers to student participation – you’ve essentially mastered using your intercultural capacity to inform teaching practices. So now you must be wondering, “What’s next? How can I further internationalize in my course?”  No fear, you are not alone. Dimitrov & Haque (2016) have some suggestions for “curriculum design competencies”.

“Effective instructors are able to critically evaluate the curriculum and create learning materials that transcend the limitations of monocultural disciplinary paradigms, scaffold student learning so students have a chance to master intercultural skills relevant to their discipline, and design assessments that allow students to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways.” – Dimitrov, N., & Haque, A. (2016). Intercultural teaching competence: A multi-disciplinary model for instructor reflection. Intercultural Education, 27(5), 437–456. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2016.1240502

Key questions to ask yourself on your internationalization journey:

  • Does my course syllabus have a specific learning outcome where a student is asked to demonstrate specific knowledge, skills, or attitudes of a global or international design?
  • Do all the authors of my selected articles look or sound like me and if so, why – and can I change this?
  • Are students asked to take different perspectives in assessed work (work that is evaluated for marks)?
  • Do students have any choice in their assessment? Are different communication styles encouraged?
  • Does my course allow students the opportunity to develop a more robust disciplinary identity aligned with their cultural or personal identity?

If answering these questions leaves you with more questions, it’s likely a good time for a conversation with the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning. We can help individually or direct you to one of our workshops to meet your needs.

How Might Intercultural Capacity inform our Teaching?

Once we develop the capacity for intercultural competence, we can start to infuse the associated skills into our teaching practice. This can take many forms but all the elements connect to the group of knowledge and skills we associate with facilitation.  Pedogogy is the study of leading learners and facilitators make a process easier. So, facilitation is the process we use to make the learning possible. In adult education, we know that our learners come with valuable prior knowledge, skill, and experience. We can draw on these to enhance the learning experience for both instructor-facilitator and student.

How do we start facilitating?

As an instructor, or facilitator, you may wish to try some of these summarized strategies suggested by Dimitrov & Haque (2017) :

When can we use it?

Using your intercultural capacity can happen any time you are interacting with someone else. Everyone has inherent uniqueness that together creates diversity.  As our ‘village’ grows, our diversity along with it.

“…more and more of us do not live in closed circles of like-minded, similarly raised people. Think of the last few gathering you attended – a work meeting, a class, a trade show. Chances are, you sat next to and talked with people from places other than where you’re from, people with different cultural norms, people of different races and religions and histories. And chances are, therefore, that you sat next to people who do practice etiquette – but etiquette different from yours, and perhaps in conflict with it on certain points.”

 Parker, Priya (2018). The art of gathering: How we meet and why it matters. New York : Riverhead Books.

Why do we care?

Figure 1 Depiction of instructor trying to introduce too many new strategies at once. Illustration by author.

We care about using good facilitation because we want our learners to achieve the desired outcomes of the course in the most efficient and effective way possible. This means using strategies we know will allow learners to thrive. As instructors, we want to leverage the learner’s pre-existing knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make the new learning accessible and within reach. If the learning curve is too steep, learners may just fall off. And even for the instructor/facilitator, try to keep a growth mindset that we are all working to get along and want to be successful in our relationships. A positive disposition and honesty about one’s own positionality and areas for growth will go a long way!

If you’re looking for more help with developing your intercultural capacity, please reach out to the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning. We can help individually or direct you to one of our workshops or short courses that can meet your needs.

NB: If you tried the text verification link above, hemingwayapp.com, you may be interested to know that this article is at a grade 10 reading level and 9 of the 39 sentences are “very hard to read”. Ideally, public text should be at a grade 9 level 🙂

What is Intercultural Teaching Capacity?

Intercultural teaching capacity is the ability to engage and support learners through difference in learning activities. Instructors who have intercultural capacity are able to bridge difference in the classroom and foster meaningful relationships with and among students. This is also called intercultural competency, but we like to think of it as a continual process instead of a checkbox. Instead of being just ‘competent’, we need the capacity to work with intercultural relations effectively, and those skills change and grow with each experience as we nurture them. Hence we can be capable or have the capacity to be interculturally competent.

Reasons why instructors may wish to develop their intercultural capacity is so that they may be more aware of their own power and privilege, their inherent biases, and to help them untangle the ‘hidden curriculum’ of attitudes they are inadvertently teaching alongside their content (knowledge and skills). Making the implicit, explicit, serves all learners and leads to a more inclusive and welcoming environment for learning. This aligns with the Learning Charter pursuits of truth and understanding, integrity and respect, and community pursuits. Being open and flexible to change and recognizing the value in other’s perspectives helps build meaningful and authentic community relationships.

Some questions to ask yourself if you want to reach all students so that they all have equitable access to success in your course:

  • For whom was the course curriculum designed? Who was the imagined ‘student’?
  • How does the curriculum reflect (mirror) the learners in the room, and also provide ‘windows’ to other perspectives?
  • How might we build a learning community in the classroom where learners draw from their own and others’ knowledge sources?
  • What is the difference between (and purpose of) assimilation and integration in the classroom?

 Three things you can do to build your intercultural teacher capacity might be:

  • model and encourage perspective-taking and openness to diverse ways of knowing;
  • facilitate dialogue about global issues using respectful, inclusive, and culturally relevant teaching strategies;
  • think abouy how  your assessments and curriculum design promote multiple perspectives among students.

Learn more:

McIntosh, P. (1998).  White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack.  In S. Rothenburg, (Ed.) Race, Class and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study.  New York: St. Martin’s Press.  https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED355141.pdf?utm#page=43

Questions adapted from the original created by Shannon Morreira and Kathy Luckett, University of Cape Town.  Retrieved on July 30, 2019 from: https://folukeafrica.com/questions-academics-can-ask-to-decolonise-their-classrooms/

Come say hi! We’re at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning. We can help individually or direct you to one of our workshops to meet your needs.

 

 

Graduates with perspectives and approaches the world needs

We often talk about the skills our graduates will need for success in their work and within our communities. As we aspire to be the university the world needs, we can’t overlook how essential perspective taking and cross-cultural competence are in our increasingly diverse world.  In this place, we have a collective commitment to improve the situation for the First Nation, Metis, and Inuit peoples, and to truth and reconciliation. And we can also see the impacts of nationalism and nativism on the global stage, A problem that is prompting us to equip our students with the skills they will need to respond.This post is one in a series related to the educator commitments in Our Learning Charter. It focuses on how to help students to explicitly recognize their own position and work to understand, acknowledge, and value perspectives and worldviews different from their own.

What you can model in your teaching:

  1. Start by acknowledging your own position and privilege. Being a role model and ally is essential in supporting students in the process of doing the same thing. Knowing why you would include a land acknowledgement, for example, rather than omitting one or just adding one to your syllabus is part of an acknowledgement. Not quite sure how to approach it in a good way? Join the short course in the fall on Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation at the Gwenna Moss Center for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL).
  2. Purposefully include content, perspectives, and worldview from local Indigenous communities and international perspectives.  The focus should be on being prepared to support a diverse world and set of different views. Need some support?  Ask for a consultation at GMCTL.
  3. Deliberately offer more than one perspective on the debates of your discipline whenever possible, and explain the value of those discussions to the disciplinary discourse. Provide opportunities for students to engage in facilitated discussions about those debates without taking a position yourself.

What you could do with your students:

  1. Choose to share your own power by using active learning strategies to get students thinking and talking, rather than transmission styles where students mostly listen. Understanding,  acknowledging, and valuing perspectives and worldviews different from their own is requires active learning processes, because it requires students to be in dialogue with the other.  Learn more about the research on active learning or experiment with some active learning strategies in your class.
  2. Provide students with deliberate opportunities to work in culturally diverse groups where they’ll be exposed to a multiplicity of perspectives that they might not encounter, given that we are more likely to self-select groups of people like us.
  3. Proactively plan for how to have challenging conversations with students in class, and how to respond when students struggle to value worldviews and perspectives other than their own.  Not sure how do this? Join the GMCTL for a workshop series on planning for and responding to difficult conversations in the classroom or preview some online resources.

View other posts in the Charter Chat series.

Tips to Start Internationalizing Your Teaching

This week is International Education Week. It’s a great time to be thinking about how to encourage global citizenship among your students and how to make your course welcoming for international students. We can play a key role in providing the type of education the world needs, especially in a time of increased nationalism and political division. Internationalizing your course is not just about having some international course content. It is about the alignment between your beliefs, how you facilitate, and how you instruct so students learn to embrace diversity of perspective and experience.  Once you know you want to help students embrace global diversity, the next step is to consider how to align your course outcomes, content, learning activities, and assessment.

My learning outcomes: Overtly identity the thinking skills that support internationalization in your course outcomes. Here are some examples:

  1. Discuss the development of ______________ in Canada and ___________.
  2. Defend ___________ using ___________ cultural perspective.
  3. Evaluate the impact of _______ on _______ in three diverse parts of the world.
  4. Analyze international trends in _______________.

My content: Note paces where you might included a more global perspective.

  • Readings
  • Examples and professional practices
  • References
  • Videos

My learning activities: Consider instructional approaches that best facilitate learning of international students and global thinking in local ones.

  • Model effective language skills and visualization (language learning)
  • Create collaborative groups with local and international students (cultural awareness)
  • Use discursive (talking and power sharing) strategies
  • Use inductive strategies (knowledge construction strategies for students)
  • Use technologies that support creation and collaboration

My assessment strategies: Think about what to do to help assessment criteria be clear and focused on a more global perspective.

  • Students know the assessment criteria in advance (i.e. a rubric) and have seen samples
  • Assessment requires students to self-assess development of international perspectives against criteria
  • Assessment requires students to write or speak for different audiences, sometimes local and sometimes international, Indigenous, or cross-cultural