Field Notes | Week Two – Equity in Action

Virtual instruction is not “business as usual.” It started with an emergency in Spring 2020 and continued to be a necessity for Fall. As our community reels from the local, multi-faceted impacts of a still-ongoing global pandemic and grieves the most recent manifestations of xenophobia and racism, we are also reminded of the human imperative of our educational vocation and CSUCI’s mission to place our students at the center of the educational experience. To that end, more than half of CSUCI’s faculty spent their summer months engaged in preparation for virtual learning, at the core of which is intentional course design built around equity, empathy, and engagement practices.

For this week’s Notes from the Field, we invited four of our colleagues to share their implementation of “Equity in Action” in seemingly simple but intentional, powerful ways. These practices enact what Estela Bensimon, founder and former director of the Center for Urban Education, describes as equity-minded pedagogy that promotes equitable and successful learning experiences for every student.

Equity in Action

Colleen Nevins, Nursing, shares clear, organized, productive class agendas for synchronous course sessions. With relevant logistical information and a checklist at the top, hyperlinked resources throughout, and time estimates for each segment of the class session, important orienting details about the course are demystified and ways to be successful are transparent. Read her post and see if you can spot the way she teaches her students to protect themselves and each other against video-classism and video-judgement, as well.

Danna Lomax, Education, shares Community Circles, a community-building and discussion-based practice that translated well from face-to-face to synchronous (same time video conference) class sessions. See her screenshots and read her post to see how she creates a web of safety and support for her students, as well as how this approach functions to embrace and amplify the unique perspectives that her students bring to the learning community.

Jennifer Brown, Mathematics, uses the +1 approach in her asynchronous course design to enact principles of Universal Design for Learning throughout each learning segment. Students can read or listen to her announcements, engage with math content in multiple modalities, and represent their learning in multiple ways. Her post takes readers through her implementation of UDL with screenshots and explanations that can be easily replicated across disciplines.

Brendan Cline, Business, uses assessment strategies that focus on continuous improvement and progress toward demonstrating proficiency by the end of the course. Specifically, he leverages the anonymous grading feature in our learning management system to focus on assessment and feedback of the submission in front of him. This practice can help thwart unintended or unconscious biases. Read his post for his thoughtful rationale, as well as screenshots that show how to implement this practice in CI Learn/Canvas.

Research on online teaching and learning tells us that culturally diverse learners are disproportionately impacted in online classes under normal circumstances, so equity-minded pedagogy is our collective responsibility and moral imperative now more than ever. Although equity work does not stop at individual teaching strategies, our colleagues show us with these concrete, actionable examples and wonderful models what this can look like. Teaching and Learning Innovations thanks Colleen Nevins, Danna Lomax, Jennifer Brown, and Brendan Cline for sharing your good work with our community.

If you incorporate similar practices, or if you are inspired by what you see this week, please share your comments and consider subscribing to our blog to follow the series.

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