Key to the design of any classroom is the syllabus that guides the course and the students that make up the classroom itself. CNDLS continued its Inclusive Pedagogy Series with a focus on each of those elements during two workshops in early November—”Syllabus Design for Inclusivity” and “Social Identity Formation and College Students.”
Creating an Inclusive Syllabus
On November 1, Michelle Ohnona (CNDLS) and James Olsen (CNDLS) facilitated “Syllabus Design for Inclusivity,” highlighting the role of the syllabus as a tone-setting tool for the classroom. According to Olsen, a course syllabus is the “first word in a larger conversation”—it is one of the earliest encounters students may have with the course, and often is their first impression of the faculty member. With that in mind, a syllabus is more than an administrative exercise, but rather an intentional tool for course design.
Ohnona and Olsen provided examples of content to include in a syllabus, as well as various templates for possible syllabus statements (accommodation statements, class participation guidelines, etc.). A common theme and challenge to participants was to “think of the message you are sending”—whether that be with an accommodation statement or an articulation of the course’s learning goals. Also discussed was the role of the new Engaging Diversity requirement within the undergraduate core curriculum. Attendees were encouraged to consider how they might articulate a learning goal around inclusivity for their course(s) using the model of backward design.
Understanding Student Identity Development
While a syllabus is one way to prepare and cultivate an enriching classroom environment, an understanding of the process of student development and social identity formation also contributes to a rich learning space. Students are grappling with their own identities and views on difficult topics throughout college; therefore, creating a classroom conducive to that exploration can both support students’ development processes and take advantage of students’ curiosity and interest in connecting the world to their own lived experiences.
On November 10, Joselyn Lewis (CNDLS) and Daviree Velázquez (Center for Multicultural Equity and Access), led an Inclusive Pedagogy workshop on social identity development during emerging adulthood. Their session included an overview of several identity development theories, drawing on various fields of study—from psychology (Erik Erikson) to sociology (Kenneth Feldman and Theodore Newcomb) to social psychology (G. R. Adams and S. K. Marshall) and even developmental ecology (Urie Bronfenbrenner).
Lewis and Velázquez also discussed the more recent impacts of post-modernism/post-structuralism and multidisciplinary lenses which helped establish more recent concepts of intersectionality and multiple dimensions of identity. To the latter point, the two led an exercise in social identity awareness to help illustrate the importance of considering one’s own identity development over time. Lewis and Velázquez asked participants to consider their own sense of self, and the most salient factors of their identity today in comparison with the aspect(s) that were more—or less—salient during their own college years. The discussion that followed highlighted the powerful impact on student learning faculty can have when they create opportunities for students to “see themselves” in the curriculum, discussions, and community of a given class.
The Inclusive Pedagogy series will offer its final fall semester workshop, “Gender Identity in the Classroom: Strategies for Inclusivity,” on Tuesday, November 29 from 12:30pm to 2pm in the HFSC Herman Room. This session will be facilitated by Michelle Ohnona (CNDLS) and Julian Haas (LGBTQ Resource Center). To RSVP, learn more about past sessions, and find additional resources, please visit our website.