This webpage serves as a starting point for our diversity, equity, and inclusion teaching guides. Below you’ll find some definitions for shared language, an explanation of why these topics are important for the ways we teach, and resources that the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) can offer.
“Diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “justice” are often used interchangeably. To provide better context to our webpages, we define our usage of these words and give some examples of what this might look like in higher education:
- Diversity: Variety and difference. In this context, we often mean a variety of people, experiences, identities, perspectives, backgrounds, and/or epistemologies in our classrooms and on our campus.
- Equity: The fair treatment of individuals, which includes actively addressing the disparities and biases that make it impossible/difficult for some individuals to succeed.
- Inclusion: The creation of environments in which all individuals feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued, so that they may fully participate; providing access for the people, experiences, identities, perspectives, backgrounds, and/or epistemologies who/that have been historically marginalized. (It should be noted that some people have issues with the idea of “inclusion,” as it is often used in a way that reinforces traditional power structures. For example, “As an instructor, I am including student voices,” still reinforces that the instructor is the one with the power and could choose not to include student voices in the future. With a focus solely on inclusion, we may underfocus on the structures that promoted exclusion.)
- Justice: Challenging the policies and practices that reinforce the dominance or subjugation of people, experiences, identities, perspective, backgrounds, and/or epistemologies.
Throughout these webpages, we’ll use these words, as well as others that may be unfamiliar to you. If you come across an unfamiliar term, try visiting our glossary page for a definition.
What does this have to do with teaching?
Some people might wonder, “What does this have to do with my teaching? I don’t teach about anti-discrimination work.” Although your discipline may not explicitly address DEIJ issues, we need to consider these issues in every classroom. Historically, much of higher education was created for white, cisgender, able-bodied, affluent men. Because higher education was designed for this type of person, some of that still lingers in the systems and policies of higher education. As members of academia, it is our duty to make our universities places where everyone feels they belong, can thrive, and have their viewpoints/experiences valued. Classrooms and disciplines aren’t apolitical or values-neutral. Not recognizing this can only cause harm to those who have been historically marginalized by higher education.
Data show that issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion can impact the ways in which students learn and thrive in college. For example, students’ lack of sense of belonging and community can affect their retention in classes, disciplines, and/or universities (Bello 2018; Booker 2016; Morrow and Ackerman 2012; Sidle and McReynolds 1999; Tinto 1998). Plus, when students are experiencing stereotype threat, it may affect their academic achievements (Griffin 2017; Meador 2018; Weber et al. 2018). Thankfully, there are steps instructors can take to improve sense of belonging, create community, and lessen stereotype threat (Phuong et al. 2017). Creating classrooms in which students can bring in their own backgrounds and viewpoints can create better learning. People learn better when they are able to connect classroom content to their own lives (National Research Council 2000). If students are not able to see themselves represented in the classroom, it may limit their ability to connect to culturally-specific references and examples in course material. Throughout these webpages, we’ll delve into specific topics and address the ways in which they can impact student learning, but also students’ abilities to enjoy and thrive in our classrooms and on our campuses.
Things to Remember
We hear a lot of instructors voice fear and nervousness when they start actively trying to create more inclusive and equitable learning spaces. It’s helpful to acknowledge that this is an evolving practice, and this means we are all going to make mistakes. We encourage you to be willing to publicly learn, be willing to learn from your students, and be willing to acknowledge your missteps and impacts. We are all at different places in learning about these topics and approaches. Acknowledge what you still need to learn and be ready to push your comfort zone.
In the spirit of publicly learning, if there is something that is missing from our pages and/or language that causes you or your communities harm, please reach out to us. We are striving to do our best, but we acknowledge that we have and can make mistakes.
How can the CITL help?
Although we hope the other webpages in this section are useful, we recognize they are likely just a starting point. We are here to help in other ways:
- Class observations and feedback: Our instructional consultants use research-based methods for observing and providing feedback on your class. Many instructors find these observations useful to their growth as teachers, in part because they are completely confidential and can be conducted without any fear of affecting one’s relationships within one’s home department.
- Individual consultations: Consider an individual consultation with one of our instructional consultants, during which we can help you better identify your needs and get you connected to the CITL staff members best equipped to assist you.
- Faculty learning communities and graduate student learning communities: Each learning community shares a question, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic. Members deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.
- Workshops and webinars: Come to our programming to learn about a topic more in depth and to meet other IUB instructors.
Reach out if there is a resource or support network related to teaching and learning that we do not have listed. We’re always interested in hearing from instructors about their needs and we develop our programming based on instructor feedback and campus priorities.
- Bello, Beatriz
- 2018 Exploring Latina and Hispanic Female Students’ Sense of Belonging in STEM Majors Following a Belonging Intervention. Dissertation submitted for PhD in Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology. University of California, Santa Barbara.
- Booker, Keonya
- 2016 Connecting and Commitment: How Sense of Belonging and Classroom Community Influence Degree Persistence for African-American Undergraduate Women. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 28(2): 218-229.
- Griffin, Whitney
- 2017 Who is Whistling Vivaldi? How Black Football Players Engage with Stereotype Threats with College. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 30(4): 354-369.
- Meador, Audrey
- 2018 Examining Recruitment and Retention Factors for Minority STEM Majors through a Stereotype Threat Lens. School Science and Mathematics 118(½): 61-69.
- Morrow, J. A. and M. E. Ackerman
- 2012 Intention to Persist and Retention of First-Year Students: The Importance of Motivation and Sense of Belonging. College Student Journal 46: 483-491.
- National Research Council
- 2000 How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (Informal Learning). National Academies Press.
- Phuong, Andrew Estrada, July Nguyen, and Dena Marie
- 2017 Evaluating an Adaptive Equity-Oriented Pedagogy: A Study of Its Impacts in Higher Education. Journal of Effective Teaching 17(2): 5-44.
- Sidle, M. W. and J. McReynolds
- 1999 The Freshman Year Experience: Student Retention and Student Success. NASPA Journal 36: 60-74.
- Tinto, V.
- 1998 Colleges as Communities: Taking Research on Student Persistence Seriously. The Review of Higher Education 21: 167-177.
- Weber, Silvana, Nicole Kronberger, and Markus Appel
- 2018 Immigrant Students’ Educational Trajectories: The Influence of Cultural Identity and Stereotype Threat. Self & Identity 17(2): 211-235.