Thinking Beyond Diversity

Over the last few years, reading the Chronicle of Higher Education has proven to be an emotionally volatile experience. What often leads higher education news are gloomy forecasts regarding the end of any number of things we hold dear: the Humanities, small liberal arts colleges, or—on a bad day—higher ed as we know it. But there’s often at least a partial antidote to these end-is-nigh pronouncements contained in the back pages, particularly the perspective and advice columns from folks actually working in classrooms, interacting regularly with actual students, and thinking deeply about teaching and learning on an everyday basis. Continue reading “Thinking Beyond Diversity”

Midterm Course-Correction

Midterm grades have been posted, and if your email inbox is anything like mine, you have students wondering how they can get back on track, or in some cases on track to begin with. Or, perhaps, you’re not hearing from the students who should be emailing you. Either way, it’s an appropriate time of the semester to think about ways in which we might intervene with either individual students or an entire class to help nudge them back onto the track for success this semester. Continue reading “Midterm Course-Correction”

Assessing with Equity in Mind

A couple weeks ago, this blog argued for creating an “Equity Mindset” when it came to our work with our students and one another. This week, I’d like to dive into one of the more interesting—and difficult—aspects of equity work in higher education: Assessment. Continue reading “Assessing with Equity in Mind”

What Are We Saying To Our Students?

A little while ago, some academic friends of mine did a Twitter search for student tweets about their professors. A lot of it was funny, some of it actually sweet and touching, some of it mean-spirited, and some of it made no sense whatsoever. But there were also a number of tweets that made me do a double-take:

“My professor just gave us the class syllabus…Lol class has been in session for 5 weeks.”

“my professor just did a horrible racist jewish guy impression”

“Also what type of professor gives you a bad grade on a paper and the only comments written were ‘incorrect use of a semicolon’ and ‘good.'”

“Why did I lose five points for turning in my assignment an hour late, but the guy sitting next to me faced almost no penalty for plagiarizing his paper off of the internet?”

Continue reading “What Are We Saying To Our Students?”

Equity as a Mindset

Many of us are at least generally familiar with the idea of “mindsets,” and their relevance to teaching and learning. Carol Dweck, one of the most notable researchers working in the area of mindsets, makes the distinction between “growth” and “fixed” mindsets. Learners with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and abilities are essentially fixed, finite commodities, Dweck argues, and when they fail to accomplish a particular task, they assume they’ve reached the limits of their capacity for that thing. So a student who has told themself “I’m not a math person” is operating within a fixed mindset, and it makes learning extremely difficult—because they’re convinced that further learning is, at least for them, impossible. Far better, Dweck argues, is for learners to work within a growth mindset, where they understand, by adopting effective strategies, they can augment their skills and abilities in a particular area. To put it simply, a learner with a growth mindset, would react to a failing grade on a math exam not by saying “I can’t do this,” but rather “I can’t do this yet.” And it’s that “yet” which is the most important part of the equation. 

Continue reading “Equity as a Mindset”

Fostering Everyday Belonging

This year, we’ve been focusing on belonging as the center of our student success efforts. How do we ensure that every member of our Grand View community knows they belong here? How do we radically welcome students into our community of learners, and how do create the conditions in which they are not only acknowledged, but valued for who they authentically are? Belonging is a powerful—and essential—feature of any of the answers to these questions. But what does belonging look like? How is it operationalized on a regular, day-to-day basis in the places where students spend a significant portion of their time: their classrooms? Continue reading “Fostering Everyday Belonging”