Promoting Diversity in College Classrooms

Maurianne Adams, Editor
New Directions in Teaching and Learning, 1992, Volume 52

Curtis, M.S.; Herrington, A.J., Diversity in Required Writing Courses.

Today’s challenge, for students and teachers of writing alike, is to construct a social identity on which we can all agree amid a growing confluence of identities, both individual and ethnic. The objective of teaching writing, the author’s state, is for writers to be able to move confidently and thoughtfully through private meaning-making to significant communication with others. In this chapter, the authors describe a multicultural Basic Writing course that they designed, which included significant books by writers from outside of the Anglo American canon. Basic Writing was designed to be more inclusive and student-centered; student writing was the principal activity and student writings the principal texts. The authors comment that in exploring the multicultural content of the works studied, they became conscious of their own interpretive processes, and it was these processes, rather than the interpretations, that they meant to pass on to students.

Hardiman, R.; Jackson, B., Racial Identity Development: Understanding Racial Dynamics in College Classrooms and on Campus.

In recent years, higher education has seen a shift in the evolution of approaches to social diversity on campus. Instead of expecting students from underrepresented social groups to conform to preexisting college norms, faculty and administrators now seem to be open to new perspectives and expectations that these students bring with them to the campus and classroom. Educators are trying to understand how each group views the world as a function of its experiences with social injustice and the influence of cultural orientation. In this syntheses of their work on racial identity development, the authors outline five stages that describe predominant modes of consciousness or worldviews that Black and Whites go through in developing their identities. The authors write that understanding the racial identity development of Black and White Americans assists educators in making informed responses to challenging racial dynamics on college campuses.

Hunt, J.A., Monoculturalism to multiculturalism: Lessons from Three Public Universities.

Comparison of the experiences of three public universities in the northeast and midwest in changing from monocultural to multicultural campuses suggests intrinsic barriers to change and common elements in organizational and curricular development. Lessons were learned for organizational administration and governance, college environment, and faculty development.

Marchesani, L.; Adams, M., Dynamics of Diversity in the Teaching-Learning Process: A Faculty Development Model for Analysis and Action.

This chapter describes a four-part model of the dynamics of teaching and learning that have particular relevance to social and cultural diversity in college classrooms: (1) Students – knowing one’s students and understanding the ways that students from various social and cultural backgrounds experience the college classroom. (2) Instructor – knowing oneself as a person with a prior history of academic socialization interacting with a social and cultural background and learned beliefs. (3) Course content – creating a curriculum that incorporates diverse social and cultural perspectives. (4) Teaching methods – developing a broad repertoire of teaching methods to address learning styles of students from different social backgrounds. This model can be used by teachers as a framework, organizer, and diagnostic tool for classroom experience. It can also be used as a framework for faculty development workshops, as well as help manage the extensive new literature about multiculturalism in higher education.

Noronha, J., International and Multicultural Education: Unrelated Adversaries or Successful Partners?

This chapter examines fundamental differences between the fields of international and multicultural education. Even with the development of ethnic studies in the 1970s, international education continued to be the accepted and familiar approach to diversity. The author states that this is not surprising, given that international and multicultural education are seen as separate and unrelated to each other. She suggests, however, that there are significant commonalities for cross-fertilization and collaboration. Effective, high-quality teaching for a diverse population, she states, operates on the same principles as good teaching practice for all students. The author outlines several successful strategies in teaching and working with multicultural and international students.

Schmitz. B., Cultural Pluralism and Core Curricula.

Across the country, faculty members are redefining core knowledge and skills to include learning about U.S. pluralism and world cultures and experimenting with new pedagogical approaches that engage cultural multiplicity in effective ways. These changes have not gone uncontested, however. In this chapter, the author explores institutional and conceptual issues central to addressing cultural pluralism in the core curriculum and describes practices that have proved useful to faculty members developing or revising courses or planning new curricula. Some of the curricular solutions that the author describes include: multiple centers, which allow different groups and traditions to occupy the center of attention for specific times, to be studied on their own terms; and new pedagogies (such as feminist and black studies pedagogies) that seek to build on experiences familiar to specific student populations.

Weinstein, G.; Obear, K., Bias Issues in the Classroom: Encounters with the Teaching Self.

Handling intergroup bias issues in the classroom may stimulate instructor anxiety but also provides opportunities for self-understanding. This chapter describes some commonly shared fears that faculty have about intergroup bias issues. These include: confronting their own social and cultural identity conflicts; having to confront or being confronted by their own bias; responding to biased comments; having doubts and ambivalence about their own competency in handling bias issues; needing learner approval; and, handling intense emotions and losing control. An instructor’s ability and willingness to anticipate and monitor her or his intrapersonal dynamics about the teaching situation is a necessary component of classroom preparation. The authors offer some coping strategies and summarize personal attributes of the effective cross-cultural trainer that can be generalized to any teaching role.

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