Our knowledge of what diversity in the classroom means has expanded since the 7 principles for good practice in undergraduate education were first proposed. Current discussions around classroom diversity are found within the inclusive teaching literature, with a focus on embracing student diversity. This literature indicates all students need to feel welcome, treated fairly, treated as individuals, and that they can participate fully.
“We often say ‘I treat all students the same.’ Yet a closer look reveals that we do not treat all students the same, nor should we….. Equal treatment involves not necessarily same treatment, then, but treatment that respects the individual circumstances of particular learners” (Chism, 2002, p. 145). Just as culture is an individual phenomenon where each learner’s experience differs, course climate (i.e., the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical environments in which students learn) can be experienced differently by different students.
When we embrace student diversity, we are not only more welcoming to diverse groups, but we are also assisting majority students in becoming more sensitive to cultural differences. Students with greater exposure to diverse environments prior to college are more comfortable in diverse settings, independent of their own race or ethnicity. Embracing diversity for students with low prior exposure is key as the social and emotional gains students make during college are greater than the intellectual gains made during the same time. These emotions can overwhelm learning if students have not learned to channel them productively. The infographic provides some specific tips to embrace student diversity in your courses this semester.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on good practices for undergraduate teaching. Throughout the blog series, we have examined each principle individually, but the individual effects multiply when all 7 principles are present (Chickering & Gamson, p. 64). If you would like to discuss any of these tips in more detail, please contact the CITL for an individual consultation. If you are a graduate student, consider registering to attend the Associate Instructor Workshop on Classroom Climate.
- Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). Why do student development and course climate matter for student learning? In Ambrose, et. al., How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Chism, N. V. (2002). Valuing student differences. In W. J. McKeachie, McKeachie’s Teaching Tips. Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (11th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
7 Principles of Good Teaching Blog Series – by Shannon Sipes