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Resources for Multicultural Teaching and Learning

Foundational Readings on Multicultural Teaching & Learning in Higher Education

Ricky Sherover-Marcuse based her philosophical and life work on the liberation of all peoples, developing "unlearning racism" workshops rooted in understanding the political roots of oppression and understanding the ways in which oppressive ideologies are internalized within each of us and, however unwittingly, echo through daily living across and within cultures. Core principles from Sherover-Marcuse's 1970s-80s transformative workshops were passed around in mimeograph form for a decade after hewhr 1988 death from cancer. In Unlearning Racism, Ricky's family and friends have made these handouts available in electronic format.; Among the titles gathered on the Ricky's Writings page you'll find Liberation Theory: A Working Framework, Towards a Perspective on Unlearning Racism, and Guidelines for Improving Communications within a Diverse Working Group - all wonderful foundational pieces to share with students in courses focused on or otherwise guided by multicultural teaching and learning.

For a history of inclusive approaches to teaching and learning, review Diversity Work in Higher Education, a series of notes and exercises adapted from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin, ed. Routledge 1997). Also, see the diversity assessment and planning tool that extends this discussion.

The Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education. An interview with James Banks, from a 1998 issue of NEA Today, proposes five dimensions that educators can attend to in multicultural course, curricular and college-wide programming and design: content integration, knowledge construction, equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction, and empowering school culture and social structure.

Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching. Raymond Wlodkowskil & Margery B. Ginsberg set out, in this 1995 Jossey-Bass publication, four central conceptual strategies to serve as guideposts for faculty designing and conducting courses across disciplines, student learning styles and classroom demographics: inclusion, attitude, meaning and competence. The authors "adhere to an intrinsic model of motivation in which people are assumed to be self determined and motivated from within when they are respected and engaged in relevant and challenging experiences that enhance their effectiveness in what they value. For anyone who wants to see their educational setting become a place where inquiry, reflection, trust, equal participation, and learning are the norm, this book offers many carefully considered ideas" (xiii). The book offers many specific teaching strategies for course development, including ideas for classroom interactions among students, guiding student inquiry and assessment of student learning. For a synthesis of Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching, see the Washington Center's page on Diversity and Inclusive Teaching, which also features a historical overview, a look at what diversity teaching might look like, and a framework for curriculum development in higher education.

Teaching in Action: Multicultural Education as the Highest Form of Understanding, by Christine Stanley (not Barbara Mills as noted on the page), provides an overview of approaches to multicultural education, drawing on respected practitioners and theorists whose work appears in the well chosen list of references that closes the essay.The essay is part of a Teaching Excellence series published by POD - the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, whose publications and annual conferences are great resources for teachers drawing on multicultural teaching and learning strategies

Inclusive Teaching. This University of Washington Web site developed by the Center for Instructional Development and Research, offers resources via pull down menus that allow teachers to explore key questions: What Excludes Students? What Are Strategies for Inclusive Teaching? and What Other Resources Can I Consult as I Teach in New Ways?

The Diversity Web page focused on Diversity Innovations provides overview of curricular change/transformation approaches adopted by US colleges and Universities with emphasis on institutional, curricular and faculty, staff, student development aspects. The link to Principles and Practices includes Debra Humphrey's paper unmasking several myths about diversity related courses and approaches to teaching/learning.

The Diversity and Work Life page within Science's Next Wave web site (a career-related network for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty in the sciences, sponsored by Science Magazine) calls readers to "read here about the issues that women and minorities face today and possible solutions for their concerns." Undergraduate Education is one of 16 featured links. Over 150 articles generated by authors from across the world follow behind the featured links. For ease of access, Diversity and Work Life prominently features a hot link for searching just that section.

Taking Student Learning Seriously and Promoting Student Retention Through Classroom Practice, both by multicultural teaching and learning scholar Vincent Tinto, address ways in which collaborative learning frameworks (including student learning communities) and strategies (group work building on intergroup responsibilities) positively shape student learning across the classroom.

The research study reported in Effects of Racial Diversity on Complex Thinking in College Students by principle investigators Anthony Lising Antonio and Kenji Hakuta addresses advancement in student thinking in racially diverse collaborative classroom settings. The link here is to Antonio's web page, which offers regular updates on this research as well as other projects related to diversity and higher education.

Understanding oppressions as a combination of power + privilege is foundational to multicultural teaching and learning according to hundreds of writers and practitioners - and the most salient starting point is generally related to developing an understanding of white privilege. The White Privilege link hosted by the University of Oregon will link you to the best of the best on this topic.

Approaches to Multicultural Teaching and Learning Course Design

Could your course design benefit from a curb cut or two? Consider how you can create natural supports for learning within your course teaching and learning strategies designed with students with disabilities in mind that will serve as a teaching innovation benefiting all of your students. 

Creating Inclusive College Classrooms by Shari Saunders and Diana Kardia is a must read - whether you're new to multicultural teaching and learning or have made this your approach to teaching for years and decades. If a syllabus is indeed a learning tool, then this is an article that will help teachers in creating a syllabus (reflecting a course design) as a multicultural learning tool. Don't overlook the other Occasional Papers gathered on this page - Perceptions of Faculty Behavior by Students of Color and Undergraduate Women in Science and Engineering: Providing Academic Support will further your thinking about creating supportive, engaged, rigorous inclusive classrooms.

Creating inclusive, interactive and collaborative courses requires learning-centered design models; such approaches to course design are linked to phrases such as "student-centered, teacher-facilitated," backward course design, cooperative learning, assignment centered course design, and "designing courses for significant learning" (the work of Dee Fink). You'll find an excellent starting place in the teaching resource page maintained by Karl Smith - an award winning civil engineering professor and internationally recognized teaching in higher education scholar. Click on the Resources link and you'll find a compendium of his publications, workshops and presentations focused on ways of creating inclusive, interactive and collaborative courses. His "Cooperative Learning - Basic Elements" handout, "Sharing the Craft of Teaching" presentation, "Designing a First Year Engineering Course" article, and "Egypt Teaching for Learning" workshop handouts are resources I regularly return to and share with Preparing Future Faculty Students in both the Multicultural Teaching and Learning and Active Learning in the Sciences courses. See also A Teaching Strategy–Teaching US History Backwards from the Teaching Perspectives section of the American History Association's journal.

The ideas of faculty who have participated in the Teaching and Learning Series on Diversity at the University of Colorado-Boulder are drawn together here in a collection of short essays framing "teaching tips" with a preface and a short bibliography composed by a distinguished faculty member. Reading through the selections here - each framing multicultural/diversity as a richness rather than an issue or problem - you'll be able to think about course design, about student learning, about multiple cultural diversities, and about variations across courses. Short selections are quite good; longer selection are magical - direct and rich in ideas offered.

Diversity in the College Classroom divides its offerings into two parts: the first as three chapters focusing on the why and how to think about inclusive teaching, the second outlining concerns and broad demographic profiles of a dozen groups of diverse learners. Written for teachers at UNC-Chapel Hill, the contextualizing is more helpful than distracting for teachers working from other regional contexts - college student concerns and challenges and contributions in this diversity context cut across campuses.

Course Design Tools offered by the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington blends a selection of tools to use now (on course planning, design, transformation; on student learning; on assessment; on labs and sections) and case studies that foster thinking anew about innovative ways of teaching and learning.

The publishers blurb for Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms, by Stephen Brookfield & Stephen Preskill (Jossey-Bass, 2002) summarizes the book's offerings in this way: "From the early stages of preparing students to participate in discussion to the final stages of evaluating its meaning and effects, the authors provide a comprehensive guide to realizing the promises - and avoiding the pitfalls - of this way of teaching." Yes. 

Finally, for thinking about the syllabus itself, visit the University of Minnesota's Syllabus Tutorial - here you'll find segments of the tutorial that will help you build syllabus segments focused on the active participation and engaged, civil discourse you'll be expecting, as well as sections that suggest how to coach students success in reading and discussion preparation.

Tools to Use in Building Assignments & Assessments

The 22 monographs collected together as For Your Consideration provide "suggestions, reflections and practical advice on the implementation of specific teaching strategies and methods." Read more here about writing texts (essay and multiple choice), evaluating student projects (and grading systems in general), active classrooms (including the homework to prepare for these active classes, whether lecture-, discussion-, problem-, or service learning-based courses). The range goes from "Developing Focused Course Packs" to "Teaching Controversial Issues" to "Planning, Designing and Evaluating Student Assignments." The monographs are available in PDF and html formats.

These two resources - Minds on Science and the Association for Multicultural Science Education (AMSE) - are favorites of students who, as part of their PFF course focused on active learning in the sciences, are creating diversity-based or -related course assignments. At the moment, the AMSE web site does not allow access unless you know the URL for the specific file you're seeking.

What Makes a Good Question or a Good Discussion in a Multicultural Teaching and Learning Context? There's not a single article that addresses this compound question but in gathering several web pages together you'll find ways of creating answers to this question for your classrooms. Start with Question: What Makes a Good Question from Teach Talk, a MIT faculty newsletter article. Then review Bloom's Taxonomy - via a handy chart adapted and annotated by the University of Victoria Counseling Service - to consider ways to grow and develop questions to ask. And wrap (for now) with What Are Some Good Ways to Facilitate a Discussion? a set of tips ending with links to three tried and true discussion strategies - sliding groups, feedback discussions and nominal group technique (all posted by the University of Oregon's Teaching Effectiveness Program).

[Useful discussion-related articles include "Enhancing Instruction Through Effective Questioning" by Edwin Ralph (Journal of Graduate TA Development 9.1: 45-51) and "Walking On Eggs: Mastering the Dreaded Diversity Discussion" by Peter Frederick (College Teaching 43.3: 83-92), both generally available through interlibrary loan.]

Mariolina Salvatori offers the following Difficulty Papers description to her students: "In preparation for class discussion and writing assignments, you will write short (1/2 to 1 page) difficulty papers: these are papers in which you identify and begin to hypothesize the reasons for any possible difficulty you might be experiencing as you read.... Each week, you will write a difficulty paper on one or more of the assigned [readings]. Each week, I will select one or two of them as unusual or representative examples of the readings you produce. I will photocopy, distribute, and use them to ground our discussions. My goal, in doing so, is to move all of us from judging a difficulty as a reader's inability to understand a text to discerning in it a reader's incipient awareness of the particular demands imposed by the language/structure/style/content of a text." Used in multicultural teaching and learning situations, the "difficulty paper" allows students to openly wrangle with a text, which often makes possible more open discussions of text and content. For a discussion of an adaptation of difficulty papers for small group discussions in a hands on course see Sharing Difficulties and Resolving Ethical Problems in Small Groups.

Structured Academic Controversy - a discussion, research, presentation and analysis framework involving individual and cooperative student work - is a "rigorous, formal process in which students engage in and work through intellectual conflicts...to arrive at a resolution on which they can both agree," note the creators of an Academic Controversy segment for the WNET production of Peaceful Solutions. See a handout from Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom - which introduces both faculty and students to the process.

The Jigsaw is another cooperative learning strategy that makes good use of primary reading materials, reflection and higher level thinking. Joan Maloof offers an approach to Using the Jigsaw Method of Cooperative Learning to Teach from Primary Sources.

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) "provide faculty and students with information and insights needed to improve teaching effectiveness and learning quality." Additionally, notes Tom Angelo, "College instructors use feedback gleaned through Classroom Assessment to inform adjustments in their teaching. Faculty also share feedback with students, using it to help them improve their learning strategies and study habits in order to become more independent, successful learners." CATs give students a view into the learning process, into their own learning practices and needs while also giving faculty of view of how, what, when, and why students are learning across a week, across a unit, across a class. This website offers users explanations and templates for more than 20 CATs developed by Tom Angelo and Patricia Cross.

Check out FLAG, or Field Tested Assessment Guide, if you want to understand "assessment" - what it is, why to do it and why to do it in particular ways, all with an emphasis on Science, Math, Engineering and Technology fields. The site features an interactive survey allowing faculty to match instructional and student learning goals to a range of classroom assessment tools/techniques (or CATS) in order to help instructors with "evaluating student learning, attitudes and performance" in the courses they plan and conduct.

You might consider engaging in assessment across several courses - a sequence you teach, a required core offered by your department, the range of diversity courses offered by your department. To have a look at Women's Studies programs that have successfully conducted these larger assessment of student learning, see the text of The Courage to Question, especially the student questionnaire in the chapter focusing on Oberlin College.

For ready-to-use handouts, exercises, activities and lesson plans related to Sexual Orientation, the Western Illinois University Committee on Sexual Orientation provides the richest and best organized page for faculty. In addition to resources housed on this library page (providing how to, why to, and ready to use exercises), make use of the box on the right side of the page to explore more on "Being a Ally" or "For Faculty: Curriculum and Teaching Issues."

Multicultural Competency Development: Preparing Students to Live and Work in a Diverse World is a Kansas State University curriculum development project that includes the development of multicultural learning objectives for the school's colleges, departments and classrooms. Involving administrators, faculty and students in focus groups, the project has generated a synthesis of multicultural learning objectives (linked to here) in the categories of Knowledge, Personal Attributes, and Skills.

Student Development (Generally and in Multicultural Education)

Understanding that students are wrapped in wide-ranging identity development, which they and their teachers must understand if multicultural teaching and learning is to occur, is the focus of an analysis of identity-development processes and theories analyzed by Patrick Troup in "Understanding Student Development Theories as Multicultural Teaching and Learning Resources" (pdf).

Development for GLBT/Q college students comes with an additional layer or two of complexity shaped by coming out to family and peers (if not also to oneself), by having to meet homophobia (or at least heterosexism) as a component of daily life, and by rich new understandings and communities that aren't necessarily familiar to family and friends. These are good starting places to help teachers think about the needs of lesbian and gay college students: University of Minnesota sites related to harassment and bias and to creating classroom climates and assignments conducive to learning; for study of classroom concerns of gay and lesbian students, see the Lopez and Chism piece, "Classroom concerns of gay and lesbian students: The invisible minority" in College Teaching (41.3: 97-103; available through the electronic periodical index Academic Search Premier) and consult" Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender College Students," edited by Ronni L. Santo.

The Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning Strategies in Multicultural University Classrooms, from the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 5(1): 21-30, by Pamela George offers one of the first (1994) research studies on this topic; studies in the last ten years confirm her initial findings: students in cooperative classrooms show "significantly stronger performance" and report "significantly more favorable attitudes toward classroom instruction" than do students in "non-cooperative" (that is, traditionally structured) classes.

Achieving Gender Equity in Science Classrooms; compiled by women science students and science faculty/staff associated with a consortium for undergraduate science education.

Web Resources to Count on

Paul Gorski, with his PowerPoint presentation focused on Multicultural Teaching and Learning with the Internet, offers a working definition of multicultural education and sets out three levels of transformation (self, schools/schooling, society) in order to speak to the ways in which educators might understand the digital divide so that "the internet" enhances multicultural teaching and learning rather than hampering access for some students. If you want to think more about the ways in which the internet can foster inclusive, interactive and collaborative teaching and learning, consult Gorski's Multicultural Pavilion site, which attracts an audience of secondary and post-secondary educators. The segment devoted to Awareness Activities can be an especially useful tool for teachers designing assignments that help students deeply conceptualize diversity in light of social justice.

The Multicultural Classroom Resource Guide, maintained by the Office of Professional Development at Indiana University/Purdue University, offers an annotated bibliography, guided readings, resources by academic discipline, and resources by curriculum transformation topics. This link will take you to the page for Resources by Academic Disciplines; a menu on the side of the page connects you to the rest of this site.

A good "start here" link for multicultural teaching and learning bibliographies (annotated, even) is maintained by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan. And for resources related to Race, Gender and Affirmative Action, see Elizabeth Anderson's consistently updated "annotated bibliography of resources on race, gender, and affirmative action intended for the use of faculty who are designing courses concerning race, gender and affirmative action." Resources are grouped into three categories - short articles suitable for undergraduate course reading, longer articles for graduate reading and faculty development and sources available on the web; the resources address concepts and definitions, arguments for and against policies, outcomes and alternatives to affirmative action - especially in educational realms.

Diversity Web: An Interactive Resource Hub for Higher Education - sponsored by AAC&U. You'll find current and past issues of Diversity Digest housed here, along with searchable archives.

Both Rethinking Schools and Teaching Tolerance serve as forums for progressive K-12 teachers, with an especially strong high school student learning focus, which actually makes this a great resource for college teachers whose students are in their first year of college. The cross-curricular analysis and classroom-based strategies are easily adapted to higher education settings. I regularly borrowed ideas for writing prompts, discussion focuses and topic development as I taught my first large lecture multicultural American literature course and wanted the 200 students to be actively engaged in reading and learning.

The American Council on Education through its Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity "disseminates research and information regarding issues of race and culture in higher education" via publications (available as PDF files) such as Investing in People (with a student-friendly section on "Why Diversity Matters") and Does Diversity Make a Difference? (yes - for all faculty and students, according to three recent studies featured here).

When you want to engage in some browsing of well-chosen web sites - it's time to just let yourself read and think, perhaps - consult the Diversity Web Sources in Higher Education page composed by folks at the Association of College and Research Libraries. The pages are vetted, the links seldom rotted, and the resources will always take you someplace interesting and useful to your multicultural teaching and learning interests.