In new book, UNC faculty aim to increase inclusion and equity in college education

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All students who start in a class often do not arrive until the end of the semester. A new book by two UNC professors seeks to change that.

Viji Sathy and Kelly Hogan are the authors of “Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom”.

“Look to your left. Look to your right. You’re all going to help each other through this course, through this program, whatever it is – we’re all a team, and that includes us as instructors and helps you understand the material,” Sathy, teacher of the practice at UNC’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, said.

Sathy and Hogan define inclusive teaching as a framework or mindset based on the idea that learning is not left to chance in a diverse group of students – who differ not only in race, gender or ethnic origin, but also by other aspects of their identity and origins. .

“We think about introverts,” said Hogan, a UNC biology professor. “We are thinking of people who might have impostor syndrome. We think of first-generation college students, students from small rural towns. We like to think about how all of these students fit into a classroom in a way that feels safe and comfortable.

Sathy said diversity in the classroom is an asset and important for learning.

“We never want to blame students for being different and coming to us with these different experiences,” Sathy said. “We want to think about the role we play as educators in leveling the playing field.”

The book, published in August, discusses Sathy and Hogan’s experiences and successes with inclusive teaching, featuring a variety of diverse student events, mixed with anecdotes and research. Hogan and Sathy both received their doctorates from UNC.

Hogan said she finds it important to write a book that is accessible and practical for readers, especially for STEM, arts or social science teachers, many of whom may not have had extensive training in the field of education.

The brightly colored book cover features a kolam, a pattern drawn by women in India using rice flour, an ode to Sathy’s cultural background.

“To me, that means the kind of invitation that you cross the threshold (into) the classroom — I hope we invite in that approach,” Sathy said.

In writing the book, the authors put themselves in the students’ shoes in order to remember their own experiences as students.

Hogan said that as a student she was quiet and usually didn’t participate in class.

“Classes were taught in a way that was the instructor talking all the time and sometimes asking the group a question where you should have put your hand up and answered a question, and that was it,” Hogan said. .

The book discusses strategies that instructors can use when planning courses, programs, or grading policies, such as using blueprints to promote inclusiveness and meet the needs of all students.

Eric Hastie, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Biology, was one of the few people to read the book before it was published. He considers one of his greatest strengths to be community building and has used some of the strategies mentioned in Sathy and Hogan’s book in his class.

Hastie said he finds the book a great resource for teachers new and old.

“One of the things I just started doing is these group office hours outside where I’m just going to crochet, and the students come over and chat and whatever,” Hastie said. “I never thought I’d try this without thinking about some of the activities they talked about in their book.”

Both Sathy and Hogan said they were pleased with feedback on the book so far and are looking forward to seeing how it can improve teaching in a classroom, large or small.

“It’s wonderful to think that we could potentially impact more students than in my class, that people could benefit from these kinds of discussions and spark more research, for example, on the subject, and trigger more conversations about what works,” Sathy said.

@keerthanagotur

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