Diversity, Inclusion and Equity

 

Over the past 20 years assisting faculty in the area of teaching, learning, assessment and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), I use a cultural asset-based approach. In this approach, I look at the resources and strengths that students and faculty bring and build upon those in teaching and learning. I believe in cultural diversity, defined as including many different subcultures identified by ethnicity, language, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, family, neighborhood, exceptionalities and religion (Pang, 2018).

 

As an Associate Provost and Director of several Centers for Teaching and Learning, I have partnered with Center’s for Diversity and Inclusion and Multicultural Affairs to offer faculty members resources that support all students from different backgrounds and ways of learning. One of my main aspirations is to build lasting relationships and I encourage faculty to do so with their students. It is through these relationships that we truly get to know our student’s cultural backgrounds and integrate those into the curriculum – explicit, implicit, co- and hidden.

 

I have taught as an Assistant, Associate and Full Professor in highly diverse universities in Florida; northern and southern California; the United Arab Emirates; Pacific Islanders (at a university ranked second most diverse university in the US); central America; large public top tier research institution; and at NYU Shanghai, where half of our students are Chinese and the other half are international. I have mentored students in doctoral programs at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia; and at Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey.

I have worked and travelled internationally in over 50 countries, each of which I have enjoyed the immersion of interesting and unique cultures. I have led several learning abroad courses and emphasized the importance of diversity in every aspect of what we do as informed global citizens. I was fortunate to lead a public Women's Technology College in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where all of my students were of Muslim faith and the faculty were from countries around the world. This highly diverse group of professionals created one of the most powerful and productive learning environments I have ever experienced. As the College Director, I found that gathering teams of students and faculty from diverse backgrounds resulted in more innovative programs and solutions that were culturally relevant.

 

My goal is to live up to this quote by a UCSD faculty member teaching a Diversity course with large enrollment -

"When I think about trying something new in class, I ask myself, 'What would Jace think?' as if he is my teaching superego. Some of my colleagues also repeat the question, “What would Jace say?” I truly believe that Jace is essential to the mission of a great university invested in innovative teaching and the advancement of social equity, as engaged teaching leads to better outcomes from processing information rather than memorizing it, especially for those who are not 'standard' learners."

I believe that my research agenda investigating appropriate, relevant, meaningful (ARM) emerging instructional technology creates an opportunity for a diverse set of learners to use technology to enhance their way of thinking. I have also used Assistive Technology to help students make conceptual connections both in person and remotely, which address the needs of students from a variety of exceptionalities. I favor an Open Education Resource (OER) model, which makes my work, as well as my co-authors research available at no cost to highly diverse international audiences. I support faculty in creating accessible syllabi and documents so that all students have access to the learning materials to be successful in their courses. I offer students multiple ways to share their application of a concept by frequent formative assessments using Student Response System. These systems include Plickers; Poll Everywhere; Answer Garden; Kahoot; Padlet; and Tricider.

I have created and provided services that increase the participation of historically under-represented groups, which include working with faculty to create more inclusive, accessible learning environments. I have developed pedagogies that address different ways of learning to empower students. I have added to the body of teaching research that contributes to the understanding of under-represented groups in higher education. One comment from a UCSD faculty member sums up my hope for how I am perceived as an inclusive educator,

"You offer a wealth of pedagogical wisdom from the theoretical to the practical, and you do so in a way that is unobtrusive, i.e., you make people (you certainly make me) feel welcome, but not pressured, to partake of the wonderful insights, resources, and opportunities you make available. You are cognizant of the pressures (the incentives and constraints, the hierarchies) that research faculty face on this campus, and their implications for faculty's willingness to carve out time to improve their teaching). You plan and provide an array of worthwhile events and creative resources, from weekly emails of relevant articles, to workshops, seminars and events, to individual teaching observations and feedback. Above all, you are whip smart, kind, sensitive, aware, approachable, and a model of excellent teaching. I feel grateful for all that you share."

Inclusive Instructional Practices that I use for teaching come from the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. These include helping students connect their prior knowledge to new learning; using a variety of teaching methods and modalities; providing multiple modes to assist non-native English speakers; asking students for concrete observations about content before moving to analytical questions via student response systems; allowing ample time for in-class activities that require substantial reading, providing guidance that reflects processing times will vary; clearly communicating expectations of grading; and carefully framing learning outcomes. Being sensitive to students’ backgrounds is critical to creating an inclusive and culturally responsive learning environment. This past year teaching in China, where many of our students’ first language is not English, I created a dossier approach of inclusive teaching strategies. Most days, I would share the concept and ask students to either work in small groups; work at the board; research and work independently; or the most successful approach was for them to post their response through the use of a shared class Google Document projected on the screen. I found that through these approaches, I was able to gain a broad student voice, especially from quieter students who may not have shared whole class. A supplement to this GDoc approach for students who may not express their conceptual understanding in writing best, was to ask them to go out of the class and take digital photos of items which represented the day’s concept and post these on the shared document, which we discussed and connected to the literature.

 

Future Plans to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

I would like to expand my work on an on-going major issue in teaching, which is to more accurately measure effective teaching. There has been research providing evidence of how student evaluation of teaching (SETs) are biased against women and faculty of color, particularly in the STEM fields. I have created and implemented an Assess Effective Teaching Protocol, to supplement SETs and empower faculty to gather additional assessment data aligned with research-based effective teaching. I have used this protocol with over 500 faculty at six different universities, including over 100 faculty at UCSD, representing over 10,000 students. I would like to create a systematic and sustainable method for all faculty to use these protocols to gather useful information on their teaching for continuous reflection and improvement, and as a supplement to highlight their teaching in tenure and promotion documentation.

 

I would like to offer targeted inclusive teaching programs for departments, partnering with the many exemplary UCSD Campus Community Centers, such as the Women’s Center, Black Resource Center, Cross-Cultural Center, LGBT Resource Center, Raza Resource Center, and Intertribal Resource Center. The focus of these programs would be to provide resources to faculty on ways of assessing and supporting culturally diverse students. Some of these programs could include:

  • Using formative assessment, such as media-rich qualitative data and learning analytics to better inform teachers to remediate in real time;

  • Fostering self-regulation through nonlinear adaptive learning programs to empower students;

  • Building a "Play with Purpose" facility, which focuses on the maker economy, democratizing the benefits of a Fab Lab, gamification and open educational resources;

  • Developing an Electronic Content Creation Ecosystem, which would allow faculty to upload media-rich, instructional strategies into an open-source platform, that are crowd-sourced assessed, returned to the system, and continually updated.

  • Creating Student Think Tanks that focus on perceptions of instruction, and provide assessment data in a creative, actionable way;

  • Assisting programs to map their curriculum; enhance Program Outcomes and integrate cultural diversity in a meaningful, sustainable way; and 

  • Assess a longitudinal study on the effect of teaching, with first year experiences, implementing a teaching interaction and tracking through students’ experiences.

 

I would like to mentor under-represented faculty and students on the academe, teaching and faculty path or scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research.

 

References

Pang, V. O. (2018). Diversity and Equity in the Classroom. Nelson Education.

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