Understanding Student Difference to Enhance Teaching and Learning

Understanding Student Difference to Enhance Teaching and Learning (2002-2003)

This community provides an opportunity for you to participate in a year-long investigation, dialogue, planning, and implementation of ways to use difference to enhance teaching and learning, for example, understanding, expectations, curriculum, and practice. The Program provides support, both financial and collegial, for innovations, implementation, and assessment of outcomes.

The objectives of the community are to provide participants with opportunities to:

  • increase awareness and understanding of who we are
  • recognize differences and similarities among our students, and between our students and ourselves
  • explore pedagogies and behaviors that create an inclusive classroom culture
  • investigate curriculum development involved in moving toward more diverse and inclusive course content
  • learn about ways to assess the success of our courses and the learning of our students in achieving outcomes connected with multicultural teaching and learning
  • be proactive in working with our departments to use difference to enhance teaching and learning

Program participants will design and attend a two-semester series of workshops or seminars and meet between these sessions as a group to engage in roundtable discussions about difference: issues, practices, curricula, and changes that could enhance their students' learning. Topics could include, for example,

  1. Who are our students and who are we? What social identities do we claim, and how do those create our expectations for teaching and learning? How are cultural and linguistic practices related to background? How are learning styles related to background? How do we begin to recognize differences among our students, and between our students and ourselves?
  2. What is an inclusive classroom culture? How are pedagogies related to ways of knowing? What pedagogies create inclusive learning communities? For example, what are the ramifications of various group compositions when forming small groups for collaborative or cooperative learning? What specific classroom practices can we utilize to implement feminist and other critical pedagogies? What practices would be useful in our own classes?
  3. What are the stages of curriculum development and teaching practice involved in moving toward more diverse and inclusive pedagogy and course content? How do we assess our current progress toward inclusive pedagogy and content? What are the next stages of evolution, and how can we transform our teaching and courses appropriately?
  4. What outcomes do we have for multicultural teaching and learning? How do we evaluate the success of our courses in achieving those outcomes? What differences among students do we need to attend to in evaluating learning outcomes?

As the year unfolds, participants should propose, design, and try teaching projects aimed at using difference to increase student learning, for example, revised syllabi, curricula, and teaching practices. Participants are expected to attend various campus-wide seminars. Participants will be liaisons to their departments to encourage departmental discussion and investigation of ways to use difference to enhance teaching and learning.