Guiding faculty into immersive environments — from campustechnology.com by David Raths
What’s the best way to get faculty to engage with emerging technologies and incorporate new learning spaces into their teaching? Five institutions share their experiences.

Guiding faculty into immersive environments -- by David Raths

Excerpt:

One of the biggest hurdles for universities has been the high cost of VR-enabled computers and headsets, and some executives say prices must continue to drop before we’ll see more widespread usage. But John Bowditch, director of the Game Research and Immersive Design Lab at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, is already seeing promising developments on that front as he prepares to open a new 20-seat VR classroom. “Probably the best thing about VR in 2018 is that it is a lot more affordable now and that democratizes it,” he said. “We purchased a VR helmet 13 years ago, and it was $12,000 just for the headset. The machine that ran it cost about $20,000. That would be a nonstarter beyond purchasing just one or two. Today, you can get a VR-enabled laptop and headset for under $2,000. That makes it much easier to think about integrating it into classes.”

 

 

Colleges and universities face several hurdles in getting faculty to incorporate virtual reality or immersive experiences in their courses. For one, instructional designers, instructional technologists and directors of teaching and learning centers may not have access to these tools yet, and the budgets aren’t always there to get the labs off the ground, noted Daniel Christian, instructional services director at Western Michigan University‘s Cooley Law School. “Many faculty members’ job plates are already jam-packed — allowing little time to even look at emerging technologies,” he said. “Even if they wanted to experiment with such technologies and potential learning experiences, they don’t have the time to do so. Tight budgets are impacting this situation even further.”

 

 

 

 

No-quiz retrieval practice techniques — from thatboycanteach.co.uk by Aidan Severs

Excerpt:

So, although quizzing is one popular (and easy) way of ensuring that facts are remembered and recalled, here are some other ways to prompt retrieval of information from the long-term memory. All of these activities could be done by individuals, in pairs or in groups:

  • Free Recall
  • Retrieve Taking
  • Think Pair Share
  • Two Things
  • Last Lesson, Last Week, Last Month (or Can You Still?)
  • Sorting
  • Linking
  • Stories, Songs, Rhymes and Mnemonics

 

 

From DSC:
With thanks going out to Nelson Miller, Associate Dean at WMU-Cooley Law School, a Professor of Law, and an author of many of his own books…below are some of my notes and reflections on the following article:


B. Teaching Metacognition in the Classroom


Because preparation and planning are vital to learning, law professors should set clear learning goals at the beginning of the semester and at the beginning of each unit and hand them out to the students, so that the students know what they are expected to learn in the class and to help them set their own goals for the class. (p. 14 of 61)

There are three criteria for creating goals (Insert from DC: i.e., learning objectives): 

  1. “the terminal behavior, or what the learner must be able to do by the end of instruction,”
  2. the conditions of demonstration, or the circumstances under which the learner must be able to perform the terminal behavior,” and
  3. “the standards or criteria, or how well the learner must be able to perform the objective for the instructor to conclude that the learner has met it.”

Goals for a doctrinal class should include substantive, skills (process), and professionalism goals

Teachers need to teach metacognitive skills explicitly. As one author has stated, “[i]f the knowledge is never shared through discussion, modeling, or explicit instruction, it is difficult for students to learn.” Moreover, being explicit about the learning process is a key to creating a learning self-identity. Knowledge of metacognitive strategies, such as those for memorization, studying, and reading, makes students more likely to use them, especially if they are told that such strategies will improve their performance and grades. (p. 15)

Professors should say out loud their thinking process when working sample problemsModeling of strategies”–talking out loud about the steps the teacher uses when solving a particular problem–helps students develop metacognitive process skills (mental apps) by providing models. When students are given a problem to solve they generally focus on task completion, rather than the problem-solving process. Consequently, they will usually adopt a trial and error approach, rather than the process the teacher wants them to employ. Modeling of strategies helps solve this problem. Similarly, telling the students why the professor is employing a particular strategy helps conditional metacognition. After giving the demonstration, the professor should also ask questions that determine whether the students understood the processes for coming up with the answers (the problem-solving strategies). Teachers should also help students create strategies for solving ill-defined problems. In sum, the teacher should demonstrate a sample problem’s thinking process in detail, explain why the teacher used that process, have students do similar problems, then give student’s feedback on their problem-solving skills. (p. 18)

An example of scaffolding is partially filling out a diagram, then letting the students finish it (the partial outline approach). Another one is giving students leading questions before they read a case. (p. 19)

Professors should teach their students how to listen in class. Active listening aids learning, while passive listening often results in little retention. Students should think about what they are hearing in class. How does the material relate to my prior knowledge? What is important and what is less important? How can I use this material later? Where would I put this material in an outline? Students should also critically evaluate what the professor is saying. Do I agree? Is there an alternative argument? What are the implications of this argument? Similarly, professors should teach students effective note taking. (p. 20)

Law professors should also help students with study strategies. Deciding what items to study, how to allocate study time, and what study strategies to use are types of metacognitive control. (p. 22)

Professors should help students use study strategies that reinforce long-term memory and create connections between concepts, processes, declarative knowledge, etc. One way of doing this is through repetition,

Experts advise at least four repetitions of material each at least once within a day for retention.

Professors should help their students develop reading strategies. Engaged teachers help their students extract meaning and comprehension from cases, rather than just producing empty briefs. (p. 23)

 


E. Using Formative Assessment to Develop Metacognition 

Well-designed formative assessments–assessments within the learning (during the semester)–that are related to course goals also aid in learning metacognition. This is because formative assessments force students to think about their thinking. As one scholar has asserted, “[a]ssessment methods and requirements probably have a greater influence on how and what students learn than any other single factor.” As one legal educator has noted, “[f]ormative assessment . . . is designed to provide feedback and guide students to improve and learn further, based on feedback that enhances their capacity to build on what they know and address areas of misunderstanding.” As a group of researchers have pointed out, “[i]f the assessments reflect the contexts in which the knowledge is to be used, this is nothing more than practice.

Under the “testing effect,” “learning and memory for material is improved when time is spent taking a test on the material, versus spending the same amount of time restudying the material” because testing engages students in the subject matter. Also, testing uses retrieval, which as stated above, helps long-term retention. In addition, students retain more if they get feedback on their assessment because without feedback students don’t why they’ve made mistakes. Similarly, students who receive feedback are generally more engagedmore positive about law school, and spend more time studying than those who do not receive feedback. In addition, feedback about process is generally more useful than feedback about product. (p. 32)

There are many different kinds of formative assessments, including writing assignments, problem-solving exercises, multiple choice tests, observations, and [daily/weekly quizzes]. For instance, a professor could give the students a problem-solving exercise at the end of a unit to do at home, then go over that exercise in class. Likewise, the professor could give the students a take-home multiple choice test that could be graded by a teaching assistant. Similarly, the professor could give the students a complaint, a corporate document, or a lease and have the students find errors. Finally, the students could draft a contract clause after the unit concerning that clause. (p. 33)

The general criteria for designing effective formative assessments are:

  1. formulate learning objectives and performance standards; publicize them to the students
  2. design the assessment tool
  3. design instruction and activities to enable the students to learn what they need to fulfill the assessment task
  4. provide feedback/discussion — the teacher and student must discuss and use the results of the assessment measure to further promote learning and teaching

As one scholar has noted, “students learn more effectively when their teachers provide them with the criteria by which they are evaluated.” One way of doing this is through rubrics–“sets of detailed written criteria used to assess student performance.”  (p.34)

[R]ubrics are an attempt to break the grade down into a series of scores that pertain to various aspects of the assignment.” Rubrics identify how a student performed on a particular task, skill, or area. They include both characteristics and levels of quality. They can be a scoring rubric, an instructional rubric, or both. Rubrics should be related to the teacher’s goals for the class. They can employ grades, numbers, or categories.

 


“Successful students take charge of their own learning.”


 

From DSC:
My concern with this great article is that it’s a lot of valuable information to take in all at once — let alone try to act upon that information!  I’ve only touched upon a subset of the items within that article. As such, it’s too much information for faculty members and instructional designers to remember and to act upon – as a whole. 

This is why I’m such a fan of blogging and chunking valuable information up into much smaller pieces — then sending out such information piece by piece, where it’s much easier to digest and act upon.

 


 

 

Evolve to Solve: 6 Ways to Navigate the Changing Landscape of an Instructional Designer — from er.educause.edu by Sara Davis and Linley Fourie

Excerpt:

These six strategies can help instructional designers keep up with the ongoing transformations in higher education.

  1. Network, Network, Network
  2. Identify Your Faculty Champions
  3. Gather Faculty and Student Testimonials and Evidence of Success
  4. Find Your Niche
  5. Managing Your Task List = More Time for the Really Good Stuff
  6. Embrace Empathetic Design

 

 

However, a singular focus on technology-based solutions can result in faculty’s thinking of instructional designers as tech or learning management system (LMS) support. We aren’t saying that we do not occasionally fill these roles, but rather that our function extends beyond the realm of specific technological interventions. 

 

 

 

6 Reasons Blended Learning Works — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpts:

6 reasons why blended learning is so effective in higher education:

  1. Improved instructional design
  2. Increased guidance & triggers
  3. Easier access to learning activities
  4. Individualized learning opportunities
  5. Increased engagement through social interaction
  6. Time on task

 


From DSC:
Notice the use of teams of specialists in the improved instructional design section:

  1. Improved instructional design. Blended courses (like online courses) may be more intentionally designed than face-to-face counterparts, if only because institutional initiatives for blended courses often involve instructional designers or educational technologists who support the faculty in a scheduled redesign process.

 


 

 

 

From DSC:
Low-stakes formative assessments offer enormous benefits and should be used extensively throughout K-12, higher education, L&D/corporate universities, in law schools, medical schools, dental schools, and more. 

Below are my notes from the following article – with the provided emphasis/bolding/highlighting via colors, etc. coming from me:

Duhart, Olympia. “The “F” Word: The Top Five Complaints (and Solutions) About Formative Assessment.” Journal of Legal Education, vol. 67, no. 2 (winter 2018), pp. 531-49. <– with thanks to Emily Horvath, Director of Academic Services & Associate Professor, WMU-Cooley Law School

 


 

“No one gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time on the day of the DMV road test. People know that practice counts.” (p. 531)

“Yet many law professors abandon this common-sense principle when it comes to teaching law students. Instead of providing multiple opportunities for practice with plenty of space to fail, adjust, and improve, many law school professors place almost everything on a single high-stakes test at the end of the semester.” (p. 531)

 

“The benefits of formative assessment are supported by cognitive science, learning theory, legal education experts, and common sense. An exhaustive review of the literature on formative assessment in various schools settings has shown that it consistently improves academic performance.” (p. 544)

 

ABA’s new formative assessment standards (see pg 23)
An emphasis on formative assessments, not just a mid-term and/or a final exam – which are typically called “summative assessments.”

“The reliance on a single high-stakes exam at the end of the semester is comparable to taking the student driver straight to the DMV without spending any time practicing behind the wheel of a car. In contrast, formative assessment focuses on a feedback loop. It provides critical information to both the students and instructor about student learning.” (p. 533)

“Now a combination of external pressure and a renewed focus on developing self-regulated lawyers has brought formative assessment front and center for law schools.” (p. 533)

“In fall 2016, the ABA implemented new standards that require the use of formative assessment in law schools. Standard 314 explicitly requires law schools to use both formative and summative assessment to “’measure and improve’ student learning.” (pgs. 533-534)

 

Standard 314. ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING
A law school shall utilize both formative and summative assessment methods in its curriculum to measure and improve student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students.

 Interpretation 314-1
Formative assessment methods are measurements at different points during a particular course or at different points over the span of a student’s education that provide meaningful feedback to improve student learning. Summative assessment methods are measurements at the culmination of a particular course or at the culmination of any part of a student’s legal education that measure the degree of student learning.

 Interpretation 314-2

A law school need not apply multiple assessment methods in any particular course. Assessment methods are likely to be different from school to school. Law schools are not required by Standard 314 to use any particular assessment method.

 


From DSC:
Formative assessments use tests as a learning tool/strategy. They help identify gaps in students’ understanding and can help the instructor adjust their teaching methods/ideas on a particular topic. What are the learners getting? What are they not getting? These types of assessments are especially important in the learning experiences of students in their first year of law school.  All students need feedback, and these assessments can help give them feedback as to how they are doing.

Practice. Repetition. Feedback.  <– all key elements in providing a solid learning experience!


 

“…effective assessment practices are linked to the development of effective lawyers.” (pg. 535)

Low-risk formative assessment give students multiple opportunities to make mistakes and actively engage with the material they are learning.” (p. 537)

Formative assessments force the students to practice recall. This is very helpful in terms of helping students actually remember the information. The spaced out practice of forcing recall – no matter how much the struggle of recalling it – aids in retaining information and moving items into longer-term memory. (See Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, & Mark A. McDaniel). In fact, according to this book’s authors, the more the struggle in recalling the information, the greater the learning.

Formative assessments can help students own their own learning. Self-regulation. Provide opportunities for students to practice meta-cognition – i.e., thinking about their thinking.

“Lawyers need to be experts at self-regulated learning.” (p. 541)

The use of numerous, low-stakes quizzes and more opportunities for feedback reduces test anxiety and can help with the mental health of students. Can reduce depression and help build a community of learners. (p. 542)

“Millennials prefer interactive learning opportunities, regular assessments, and immediate feedback.” (p. 544)

 


Ideas:


  • As a professor, you don’t have to manually grade every formative assessment. Technology can help you out big time. Consider building a test bank of multiple-choice questions and then drawing upon them to build a series of formative assessments. Have the technology grade the exams for you.
    • Digital quizzes using Blackboard Learn, Canvas, etc.
    • Tools like Socrative
  • Alternatively, have the students grade each other’s work or their own work. Formative assessments don’t have to be graded or count towards a grade. The keys are in learners practicing their recall, checking their own understanding, and, for the faculty member, perhaps pointing out the need to re-address something and/or to experiment with one’s teaching methods.
  • Consider the use of rubrics to help make formative assessments more efficient. Rubrics can relay the expectations of the instructors on any given assignment/assessment. Rubrics can also help TA’s grade items or even the students in grading each other’s items.
  • Formative assessments don’t have to be a quiz/test per se. They can be games, presentations, collaborations with each other.

 


For further insights on this topic (and more) from Northwestern University, see:

New ABA Requirements Bring Changes to Law School Classrooms, Creating Opportunity, and Chaos –from blog.northwesternlaw.review by Jacob Wentzel

Excerpt:

Unbeknownst to many students J.D. and L.L.M. students, our classroom experiences are embarking upon a long-term path toward what could be significant changes as a trio of ABA requirements for law schools nationwide begin to take effect.

The requirements are Standards 302, 314, and 315 , each of which defines a new type of requirement: learning outcomes (302), assessments (314), and global evaluations of these (315). According to Christopher M. Martin, Assistant Dean and Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, these standards take after similar ones that the Department of Education rolled out for undergraduate universities years ago. In theory, they seek to help law schools improve their effectiveness by, among other things, telling students what they should be learning and tracking students’ progress throughout the semester. Indeed, as a law student, it often feels like you lose the forest for the trees, imbibing immense quantities of information without grasping the bigger picture, let alone the skills the legal profession demands.

By contrast, formative assessment is about assessing students “at different points during a particular course,” precisely when many courses typically do not. Formative assessments are also about generating information and ideas about what professors do in the classroom. Such assessment methods include quizzes, midterms, drafts, rubrics, and more. Again, professors are not required to show students the results of such assessments, but must maintain and collect the data for institutional purposes—to help law schools track how students are learning material during the semester and to make long-term improvements.

 

And/or see a Google query on “ABA new formative assessment standards”

 

 

 

Are you telling stories in the classroom? — from teaching.berkeley.edu by Melanie Green

Excerpts:

Stories can make a subject accessible and even interesting… [Storytelling] can provide value, turn something abstract or obscure into something concrete.

Stories:

  • make a subject relatable and accessible to students
  • can pique interest, or demonstrate relevance, in a subject that students usually dislike, or worse, find mind-numbing
  • build meaning-making (there’s that word again), helping students to recall the information later
  • forge, or repave, paths to material that students already thought they knew, making way for new perspectives, connections, and experiences to develop through someone else’s story
  • make a subject approachable

 

From DSC:
The Master Teacher also used stories (parables) to teach people:

 

 

 

If our Creator/Designer did so, I think we should take a serious look at doing so as well.

 

 

 

 

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning— by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Some of the key points and learning strategies they mention in the preface:

  • The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive
  • Spaced repetition of key ideas and the interleaving of different but related topics are two excellent teaching/learning strategies

 

“This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. The responsibility for learning rests with every individual.”

 

 

Some the key points and learning strategies they mention in the first chapter:

  • When they talk about learning they mean acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.
  • There are some immutable aspects of learning that we can probably all agree on:
    1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is till there later when we need it.
    2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives.
    3. Learning is an acquired skill and most effective strategies are counterintuitive
  • Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful
  • We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not
  • Rereading text and massed practice (i.e., cramming) of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they”re also among the least productive. Rereading and cramming give rise to feeling of fluency that are taken to be signs of mastery, but for true mastery or durability these strategies are largely a waste of time.
  • Retrieval practice — recalling facts or concepts or events from memory — is a more effective learning strategy than reviewing by rereading
    • Flashcards are a simple example
    • Retrieval strengthens the memory and interrupts forgetting
    • A single simple quiz after reading a text or hearing a lecture produces better learning and remembering that rereading the text of reviewing lecture notes.
  • Periodic practice arrest forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain.
  • Space out practice and interleave the practice of 2 or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.
  • Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.
  • Learning styles are not supported by the empirical research.
  • When you’re adept at extracting the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, you’re more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations. This skill is better acquired through interleaved and varied practice than massed practice.
  • In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.
  • All learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.

 

If you practice elaboration, there’s no known limit to how much you can learn. Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know. The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.***

 

“When learning is hard, you’re doing important work.”

 

“Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.”

 

Learning is stronger when it matters.^^^

 

  • One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval — testing — to strengthen memory, and the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit.
  • The act of retrieving learning from memory has 2 profound benefits:
    1. It tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further study
    2. Recalling what you have learned causes your bring to reconsolidate the memory
  • To learn better and remember longer, [use]:
    • various forms of retrieval practice, such as low-stakes quizzing and self-testing
    • spacing out practice
    • interleaving the practice of different but related topics or skills
    • trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution
    • and distilling the underlying principles or rules that differentiate types of problems

 

One of the best habits a learner can instill in herself is regular self-quizzing to recalibrate her understanding of what she does and does not know. 

 

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014).
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

 

 

*** This quote reminds me of what turned Quin Schultze’ learning around. With Quin’s permission, the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36)

 

 

 

During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.

 

^^^ This quote explains why it is so important to answer the first question a learner asks when approaching a new lesson/topic/lecture/etc.:

  • Why is this topic relevant?
    i.e., why is this topic important and worthy of my time to learn it?

 

 

Design Thinking: A Quick Overview — from interaction-design.org by Rikke Dam and Teo Siang

Excerpt:

To begin, let’s have a quick overview of the fundamental principles behind Design Thinking:

  • Design Thinking starts with empathy, a deep human focus, in order to gain insights which may reveal new and unexplored ways of seeing, and courses of action to follow in bringing about preferred situations for business and society.
  • It involves reframing the perceived problem or challenge at hand, and gaining perspectives, which allow a more holistic look at the path towards these preferred situations.
  • It encourages collaborative, multi-disciplinary teamwork to leverage the skills, personalities and thinking styles of many in order to solve multifaceted problems.
  • It initially employs divergent styles of thinking to explore as many possibilities, deferring judgment and creating an open ideations space to allow for the maximum number of ideas and points of view to surface.
  • It later employs convergent styles of thinking to isolate potential solution streams, combining and refining insights and more mature ideas, which pave a path forward.
  • It engages in early exploration of selected ideas, rapidly modelling potential solutions to encourage learning while doing, and allow for gaining additional insight into the viability of solutions before too much time or money has been spent
  • Tests the prototypes which survive the processes further to remove any potential issues.
  • Iterates through the various stages, revisiting empathetic frames of mind and then redefining the challenge as new knowledge and insight is gained along the way.
  • It starts off chaotic and cloudy steamrolling towards points of clarity until a desirable, feasible and viable solution emerges.

 

 

From DSC:
This post includes information about popular design thinking frameworks. I think it’s a helpful posting for those who have heard about design thinking but want to know more about it.

 

 

What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions we might have, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. As such, design thinking is most useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Design thinking is extremely useful in tackling ill-defined or unknown problems—it reframes the problem in human-centric ways, allows the creation of many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and lets us adopt a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Design thinking also involves on-going experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas. It involves five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The phases allow us to gain a deep understanding of users, critically examine the assumptions about the problem and define a concrete problem statement, generate ideas for tackling the problem, and then create prototypes for the ideas in order to test their effectiveness.

Design thinking is not about graphic design but rather about solving problems through the use of design. It is a critical skill for allprofessionals, not only designers. Understanding how to approach problems and apply design thinking enables everyone to maximize our contributions in the work environment and create incredible, memorable products for users.

 

 

 

 

The Case for Inclusive Teaching — from chronicle.com by Kevin Gannon

Excerpt:

Inclusive teaching is not condescending or fake. Rather, it’s a realization that traditional pedagogical methods — traditionally applied — have not served all of our students well. It’s a commitment to put actual substance behind our cheerful declarations that all students deserve access to higher education. Mumbling about “snowflakes” accomplishes nothing but further entrenching ineffective and unskillful practices. The beauty of inclusive pedagogy is that, rather than making special accommodations that would decrease equity, it actually benefits all students, not just those at whose needs it was originally aimed.

So what is inclusive pedagogy? It is a mind-set, a teaching-and-learning worldview, more than a discrete set of techniques. But that mind-set does value specific practices which, research suggests, are effective for a mix of students. More specifically:

It values course design. Inclusive teaching asks us to critically examine not just the way we teach on a day-to-day basis, but the prep work and organization we do before the course begins. Does our course design — including assigned readings, assessments, and daily activities — reflect a diverse array of identities and perspectives? Am I having my students read a bunch of monographs, all authored by white males, for example? And if I am, what am I telling students about how knowledge is produced in my field, and more important, about who is producing it?

Even such quotidian practices as in-class videos or case studies ought to be examined. What types of people do my students see when they watch a video featuring an expert in my discipline? Do the experts look like my students? In my teaching, am I mostly relying on one pedagogical method, where I might be able to connect with a wider array of students by differentiating the types of instruction I use? What assumptions am I making about my students’ prior experiences and educational opportunities when I ask questions in class or design my exams?

It values discernment.

It values a sense of belonging.

 

 

 

 

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