Inclusive Teaching

During U-M's Veterans Week, it's a good time to reflect on the needs of our students who have served in the military. Did you know that record numbers of veterans are enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities--and many of them are here on U-M's campuses? As a result of the university's new tuition policy which took effect in January 2014, allowing students who have served in the military to qualify for in-state tuition, our number of student veterans is expected to rise. If you teach at U-M, odds are good you've had or will have student veterans in your classroom.

How might your awareness of veterans in the classroom make a difference in your teaching? The research on student veterans suggests several strategies and cautions for teaching inclusively with veterans in mind. Here are a few: Read more »

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All around campus this term, groups of faculty are meeting to exchange and develop ideas about inclusive teaching practices. In this pilot year of the Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching initiative, funds from the office of the Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs are supporting ten different projects designed to spark faculty exchanges about how to cultivate learning environments that welcome and support students of all backgrounds and identities. This year's faculty participants represent over two dozen departments and programs, and their topics of focus range widely, from the effects of religious identity on student learning, to female underrepresentation in particular fields of study, to the dynamics of stereotype threat in science courses.

A full list with brief descriptions of this year's projects can be found on this Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching page. Read more »

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Recent months have seen heightened national conversation about the ways implicit biases can perpetuate racial and gender disparities in powerful domains from policing to hiring. This conversation invites us as teachers to examine the ways our implicit attitudes might negatively affect our perceptions of and behavior towards students in our classes. As teachers, we assume responsibility for fostering the learning of all students in our classes. Even when we have the best of intentions, subtle biases that we're unaware of can undermine our efforts at creating inclusive classrooms.

What are some practices that can help us check our own assumptions and biases about our students? And how can we safeguard against our implicit biases—i.e., attitudes we may not even be aware of—negatively affecting students’ experiences in our classes?

Some strategies for becoming aware of our potential biases (or their negative effects) in teaching include: Read more »

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As we move into winter term, with its mix of intense academic demands and challenging weather, it's a good time for instructors to prepare to respond or reach out to students experiencing mental health challenges. Whether they are grappling with anxiety, depression, or other sorts of distress, students' mental heath struggles often become apparent to teachers when they take a toll on their academic work. And students in distress sometimes turn to teachers for help because they see them as their most immediate support network.

As U-M’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) states in their guide for instructors on Helping Students in Distress, "your role can be a positive and crucial one in identifying students who are in distress and assisting them in finding the appropriate resources." 

What should you do if you know or suspect a student is in need of your assistance? Detailed guidance can be found in the CAPS guide above or at the University's Mental Health Resources webpage for faculty and staff. In general they recommend, if a student comes to you, that you listen attentively and without judgment. You can help the student develop an action plan for addressing their main concerns, especially with coursework, but remember that it's not your role or responsibility to provide professional help for students facing mental health challenges. You can support students by referring them to relevant campus resources. Depending on the circumstances, these might include: Read more »

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What are effective ways to get to know my students and create a positive learning environment from the very beginning of the term? How can I pique students' curiosity about the course material? How can I set student expectations for active engagement in class?

These are common questions as teachers prepare for the first days of class, an important time for setting the tone for what is to come in the term. CRLT links to many resources that can help faculty and GSIs think carefully about getting the most out of the first days. These include research on why classroom rapport is useful for student learning, and specific strategies for building relationships and communities in the early days and weeks of a course. Other resources provide suggestions for introducing course material and communicating expectations. Find more first days resources on this list, or click on the tags below for pages that include links to materials we use in our new teacher orientation programs. 

Other CRLT resources about inclusive teaching provide specific strategies for ensuring that you foster learning environments that include and enable all of your students from the very beginning of the term. Inclusive teaching can begin before you ever walk into a classroom, as emphasized by these pages on course design and syllabus design.

As always, CRLT consultants are also available to work one-on-one with instructors. We're here to help you get your classes off to a great start.

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