Got Equity?
Got Equity? avatar

Hello Everyone,

My blog post is primarily engaging the powerpoint presentation by Dr. Woods “Online Culturally Responsive Teaching” I will begin by highlighting 3 key points Dr. Woods makes as a way to frame and begin his keynote address then I am going to attempt to map the recommendations for practice Dr. Woods makes to a set of recommendations I used in a workshop for f2f culturally responsive teaching. This experiment will let me see how much of what I recommend for f2f courses is applicable to online courses. Ok, here it goes…

First, he defines Equity as a heightened focus on groups experiencing disproportionate impact in order to remediate disparities in their experiences and outcomes. I appreciate that he begins with this definition because often we hear equity and diversity used interchangeably when each term has its own genealogy and purpose. Hi definition serves to remind us that while Diversity is part of Equity it is not the same thing. Diversity is a term that was popularized in the 70s and 80s as part of the social movements aimed at increasing access to underrepresented groups, cross-cultural understanding (learning to work across and through our differences) and changing the content of our curriculum to represent underrepresented groups. Equity zeroes in on how our Student of Color are doing once in college and focuses on using disaggregated data to track equity gaps and see which courses Students of Color are having the most difficulty in.

Second, he gives us a definition of equity-mindedness

Equity-Minded practitioners are:

  • Are cognizant of exclusionary practices and systemic inequities that produce outcome disparities in educational contexts
  • They attribute outcome disparities to breakdowns in institutional performance rather than exclusively to student deficits or behaviors
  • They continuously reflect upon their roles in and responsibilities for student success
  • challenge their colleagues to be equity-minded educators

In short, equity is everyone’s responsibility, so let’s turn the lens on ourselves (on that which we can control) and examine our practises (Bensimon, 2007).

Third, he includes a series of slides from the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) with disaggregated data to show how underserved Students of Color are doing in online versus f2f classes across the country. If I am reading slides 10-15 correctly (Gees, oh how I wish I had paid more attention in that quantitative methods seminar) his data is showing that the success rate for underserved Students of Color is lower in online courses overall and in some cases the difference is dramatic.

This poses several questions: Do we have recent disaggregated data from our college about how our underrepresented Students of Color are doing in online courses? More specifically, given the changes propelled by acceleration, do we have data on how this population is doing in ENG 100 online courses? How do we track equity in our online courses to see how our Students of Color are doing in comparison to other students? Could we set equity goals for each online course that would enable us to say, “in order for this class to be equitable, at least X number of underrepresented students have to pass? Or have to get a B or above? How do we do this?

Next, I is my attempt to map Dr. Woods’ “5 Equity Practices for Teaching Underserved Students of Color Online to my “Top 12 Ways to Support Underserved Student Success”

Top 10 Ways to Support Underserved Student Success

  1. Find ways to legitimize a student’s home language and culture, their ethno-linguistic worlds. Provide tools that support them in shifting from a deficit mindset about their difference to a mindset whereby their difference is a valuable resource. (Be Relevant)
  2. Read student writing to gain a sense of how they think, how they engage with ideas and emphasize the potential there instead of focusing feedback on language error and correction—(Be Relational, Black Minds Matter)
  3. Support students to see course readings as conversations in which they participate. Help students become active participants in and owners of their education—rather than conceiving of their role as observing from the sidelines. (Be Relational, Be Community Centric)
  4. Create an environment where students have opportunities to use the reading, writing, thinking skills they are gaining to reflect on and examine their own educational histories, family histories, background experiences (i.e. what they bring into the classroom). In other words, find ways to legitimize students’ socio-historical experiences; the idea is that culturally responsive teaching is emancipatory/liberating. (Be Relevant)
  5. Connect the content of the class (in English it is their reading/writing) to their real world, make the work of the class directly “useful” and relevant to their day to day lived realities (Be Relevant)
  6. Work with students who experience marginalization (at the college, in the larger political climate) to move from a position of silence to a position of voice. To what extent or in what ways should we interpret or see our classes (the reading, the thinking, the writing) as spaces for students to enact political and social empowerment, especially for those coming from positions of silence? (Note: the idea from Geneva Gay and James Banks that culturally responsive teaching is transformative; Freire & Ira Shor; it is about social change: Guide students to understand the power of literacy and higher education: our students of color are survivors, they are driven and understand the need for social change and if we can get them to see how strong reading and writing skills, how theories are powerful tools they need make changes in their communities and become engaged citizens–then we have buy in—students in my classes know that their writing matters or as Sherman Alexie might say “books save lives”). (Be Relevant)
  7. Create a learning community in the classroom where students feel safe, where there is mutual respect (where each student knows their writing will be taken seriously)..(Be Community-Centric)
  8. Understand in the writing and other seminar classes the need to pay attention to students’ affective needs—what is going on emotionally and psychologically–as we are trying to teach writing we understand the need to teach students how to use writing as a tool to improve their sense of self-efficacy; reading and writing as tools to increase their confidence in their ability to improve, to succeed. (Be Race, Gender, Class, Sexuality Conscious)
  9. Related to 8, teach rhetorical metacognition as an academic success tool that can be applied across courses. (Be Relevant)
  10. Be accessible—teacher accessibility is more an attitude than the posted office hours. Students sense if you really want to meet with them. If possible, respond to at least one set of papers in live conference or live writing groups, preferably early in the quarter. Ask students to introduce themselves at the beginning of the quarter using Zoom, or have them do an introduction of themselves using a series of pictures they collect from their social media (Be Relational, Be Community-Centric)

Take away: it seems all of the recommendations I have for equity-based teaching practices in f2f courses are applicable in an online environment:)  I look forward to reading your posts this week.