Equity in the Classroom
These are the students we serve at SAC
SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE FALL 2020 STUDENT PROFILE
Find more information at https://www.alamo.edu/sac/about-sac/leadership/president/student-profile/
|Syllabus Review Guide by Dr. Estela Bensimon||Systemic Racism Explained|
Who Are the Students Community Colleges Serve?
The typical college student is no longer the image many of us hold in our heads—an 18- to 22-year-old who leaves his or her parents’ home for the first time, ready to begin the journey at an ivy-walled four-year college or university. Rather, many of today’s college students are beyond the age of 24, employed at least part time, and raising a family. Approximately half are low-income and financially independent from their parents, and a third are students of color (Deil-Amen 2015; Ma and Baum 2016).
"Community colleges already serve the underserved half of high school students; these students are now at risk of becoming the new forgotten half of community college students: credits but no degree."
Click on the red button to access the full article by the American Council in Education© RACE AND ETHNICITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION.
San Antonio College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence is housed in the Office of the President. We carry out the college’s mission to create an environment that places equity at the forefront of student success. Our office is supported by a committee comprised of students, staff, and faculty.
disABILITY Support Services
...where the focus is on your ABILITY!
The mission disABILITY Support Services at SAC is to provide reasonable accommodations and facilitate access for on-campus and distance education students to have an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of higher education.
10 STRATEGIES FOR CREATING INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
By the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning | May 2020
1. Communicate with students early to normalize and assuage concerns.
2. Administer a survey before the quarter begins to get a sense of your students’ situations.
3. Ensure course materials are accessible.
4. Provide students with clear guidance on course mechanics.
5. Have 1:1 interactions with students within the first week of class and at least once more during the term, if possible.
6. Provide a mix of synchronous, and asynchronous, course activities.
7. Collectively set norms for online and offline interactions.
8. Be deliberate about ensuring equitable class participation.
9. Provide opportunities throughout the course, not just at the beginning, for students to get to know one another in pairs or small groups.
10. Get frequent feedback from students on their experience in the class.
10 INCLUSIVE & EQUITABLE STRATEGIES FOR ONLINE LEARNING
Click on the red button above to access Stanford's web version which includes specific examples of activities and scripts to include in your classes.
Equitable online course design for college and university classes often requires flipping the usual perspective, says Dr. Ruanda Garth-McCullough, Associate Director of Teaching and Learning for Achieving the Dream.
“Most of us were taught to treat everyone the same and ignore differences,” she says. “Equity requires educators to shift their thinking and be comfortable with acknowledging the differences — identifying differences — and addressing students differently.”
A principle of “treating everyone the same” may not result in the equity that a college classroom strives for. If they are going to close equity gaps and improve learning outcomes for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and poverty-affected students, instructors will need to understand how every student walks in — or logs in — with unique needs, perspectives, and barriers.
Equitable online courses don’t ignore differences
Equity can’t be achieved with so-called “colorblind” or “impartial” approaches. Equitable online course design considers representation of student identities, including culture, race, gender, and sexual orientation, country of origin, first language, economic class, and religion. Equitably designed courses also consider access — not just during admissions but after students get the acceptance letter and progress toward a degree.
Achieving the Dream (ATD), one of the partner organizations of Every Learner Everywhere, helps community colleges identify and confront systemic inequities, and equitable course design has been one of the organization’s priorities since its inception.
According to the ATD team, in order to design courses from an equity perspective, institutions and faculty must first understand who their students are. That understanding should inform what content is included, what policies are required, how class meetings are conducted, and what expectations the course rests on. Then open lines of communication should ensure student needs are being met.
Start by working from actual data about students, such as demographics, technology access, and outside obligations to family and work. These and other other factors all influence how individual students interact with the course. Something on your syllabus as innocuous as “check for the problem sets online on Tuesday and respond by Thursday” may be a significant challenge for some students.
At an individual course level, Susan Adams, Instructional Designer at ATD, recommends faculty do an informal assessment of students that asks questions like:
- Is this your first time taking a course online?
- What concerns do you have about taking the course?
- How are you accessing the course?
- How can I best facilitate your learning?
Hearing from students about their experiences will reveal surprising barriers to access that may conflict with initial expectations in the course design. For example, they may learn about certain days that a student’s community sets aside for religious observances, a lack of private work space, or less familiarity with academic culture.
1. Break barriers to access
Garth-McCullough and Adams have been contributors to several publications in the Every Learner Everywhere resource library, including Caring for Students Playbook, which outlines six recommendations for supporting equitable learning through more student-centered course and program design.
They say that equitable course design will have the flexibility to let students work with their unique scheduling, technological, and personal needs.
This is particularly important recently, since many courses were forced suddenly online in 2020 due to COVID-19, and not every student has the same access to internet, laptops, or quiet home offices. As Every Learner Everywhere Director Jessica Rowland Williams discussed in an interview, some students are “attending” online classes from their cars and writing assignments on their phones.
But, as we noted in another article, a pandemic isn’t the only barrier to access. Equitable course design is an investment in a future that includes all students, even when campuses are fully “open” again.
Keep in mind that not every student will have access to the same wifi, devices, and bandwidth that we might take for granted. Equitable course design will provide multiple ways to engage with the course, including:
- Downloadable modules so work can be done offline.
- Lecture notes incorporated inside a slide deck as well as on their own document.
- Collaborative note taking, which can help students learn during the lecture and also creates a resource that can be referenced after the lecture.
- Audio files as an alternative to video, because they require less bandwidth to download.
- Posting video to platforms like YouTube where they can easily be viewed without downloading.
- Mailing printed materials to students who may not have any way to access the internet.
While many students may do fine with online learning, Francesca Carpenter, ATD’s Director of Equity Initiatives, says to keep in mind there are others who didn’t anticipate this way of learning and may be struggling.
“A lot of students want face-to-face instruction to get that connection with their instructor,” she says. “When you put them in this virtual environment, you remove that unless the faculty member knows how to create and cultivate those relationships.”
Many students may also depend on the resources that a campus provides, including a computer lab, internet access, and quiet places to study.
2. Use representative content
Representative content is essential to equitable course design. When students see their identities reflected in the course material, they’re more likely to engage. Curricular materials that represent economic, ethnic, racial, and gender diversity let all students know that they are included in the academic experience.
One way to ensure greater diversity of content, says Carpenter, is to use open educational resources (OER). “This is your opportunity to really expand what your students have access to and are able to learn more about,” she says.
OER also can enable the co-creation of content with students, she says. It provides an opportunity for a student to be published and for subsequent classes to continuously iterate on the content and activities of previous students.
“That creation of ongoing, living assignments gives students a power they didn’t have before,” notes Carpenter.
3. Open the lines of communication
Check in with students regularly to make sure they know what resources are available, and make space for them to ask for the help they need.
Adams suggests creating a learning pact with students at the beginning of the course. It sets expectations about communication for both faculty and students and creates a supportive and trustworthy environment.
To make sure students feel comfortable getting help if they need it, Garth-McCullough recommends putting resources in syllabus statements, and issuing regular reminders to students of the resources available for food insecurity, housing, unemployment, and more.
“It’s important to keep that open dialogue where you create a space for them to be critical about what’s working and not working,” says Garth-McCullough. “Students will tell you, but we rarely ask.”
Students succeed when they’re supported
In today’s uncertain situation, it’s essential to understand student goals and make sure the course connects with those goals, says Garth-McCullough. “More than ever, students are going to question if this is where they need to be.”
She recommends surveying students about their goals at the beginning of the course, then working continuously to tie the learning back into those goals.
This helps demonstrate to students that you care. And when students understand you care, adds Carpenter, they’ll be more engaged. “If you’re just in there to be a talking head for two hours, that’s not going to work for students who need support.”
Originally published October 2020. Updated September 2021 with additional information and references.
Six Recommendations for Caring for Students
This playbook is organized into six recommendations that are accompanied by concrete strategies and related resources to support the implementation of caring for students into teaching practices.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES, EQUITY & HIGHER ED IN THE TIME OF COVID
Noah Brown of ACCT on how community colleges are reacting to COVID education , enrollment challenges and the financial hit of the pandemic
INCLUSIVE TEACHING PRACTICES by ACUE
A classroom, whether physical or virtual, is a reflection of the world in which we live. Research has shown that students from underrepresented groups often face additional challenges. By implementing inclusive teaching practices, faculty create learning environments where all students feel they belong and have the opportunity to achieve at high levels.
To support instructors in creating inclusive learning environments, we’re offering a set of free resources, including 10 inclusive teaching practices that can be immediately put to use to benefit both faculty and their students. These practices are tailored for online teaching but are also relevant to the physical classroom.
These 10 practices include:
- Ensure your course reflects a diverse society and world.
- Ensure course media are accessible.
- Ensure your syllabus sets the tone for diversity and inclusion.
- Use inclusive language.
- Share your gender pronouns.
- Learn and use students’ preferred names.
- Engage students in a small-group introductions activity.
- Use an interest survey to connect with students.
- Offer inclusive office hours.
- Set expectations for valuing diverse viewpoints.
INCLUSIVE TEACHING PRACTICES TOOLKIT
Click on the red button to access ACUE's INCLUSIVE TEACHING PRACTICES TOOLKIT page.
September 14, 2020 T. Scott Bledsoe, PsyD, and Kimberly A. Setterlund, MSW, LCSW
When I think about diversity here in college, I can hear myself saying “What if? What if I could go back and talk to my undergrad professors and my graduate professors and sit them down in the times or moments where I felt I was not heard?” I would ask them to start the semester, start the course, or start every class including people’s personal narratives. ~Tamara
The quote from this student appears in Using Narratives and Storytelling to Promote Cultural Diversity on College Campuses (Bledsoe & Setterlund, 2021), which explores personal narratives about race and how they contribute to our worldviews. The recently published book addresses Tamara’s opening suggestion by offering a framework for promoting classroom dialogue around this issue, which reflects a critical need in the complex climate of higher education in which we currently live.
A narrative can be defined as a specific theme or topic that can be as personal as a favorite song, or global like politics. Housed within our narratives are stories that work together to bring each one to life. Narratives about race and culture are influenced by factors such as ethnicity, family, and environment, and are shaped by our past, present, and possible futures. For example, the death of George Floyd in the spring of 2020 was a powerful narrative that opened up a floodgate of stories that varied substantially depending on one’s ethnic group and background. Students should have the opportunity to meaningfully discuss their viewpoints on such topics, including the pain they experienced and challenges they see before them. The diagram to the right shows four components—values, beliefs, schemas, and emotions—which are vital in our construction of narratives and internal processing of race.
Copyright © 2021 by IGI Global
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Want to Reach All of Your Students? Here’s How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Inclusive Teaching and Learning Online Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning.
Teaching in Racially Diverse College Classrooms Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University
How to Provide a Multicultural Education by Baylor University
Creating a Positive Classroom Climate for Diversity UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development
Diversity and Inclusion Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Yale University.