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.

 

At the intersection of using technology to teach new media literacy/rethinking literacy and Warnock’s migrate what you do well in the classroom
At the intersection of using technology to teach new media literacy/rethinking literacy and Warnock’s migrate what you do well in the classroom avatar

Larson’s video lists 3 benefits of online group collaboration: It is a student-centered approach, it increases communication through student writing, and it has real-world application. The real-world application of the skills online group activities build is critical and represents part of what Jenkins, and others in Jenkins and others in “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: New Media Education for the 21st Century” are calling the new hidden curriculum. According to this report, calling for educators to teach new media literacy, “Access to this participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace” (3). The forms of participatory culture they list include collaborative problem-solving and affiliations or engagement with formal and informal online communities. The authors of this report argue that “the new literacies almost always involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking” (4). The new skills required to become full participants, or to function in this new participatory culture include, distributed cognition (the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities (4) and collective intelligence (the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal. There are eleven skills listed in this report and I mention them here only because in thinking about an in-person group assignment I would consider migrating to my online composition course—I would have to rethink and expand my objectives so that I am accomplishing what we accomplish during f2f group collaboration and also develop some of the cultural competencies and social skills students need to fully participate in this emerging participatory culture. What is exciting to me about teaching writing online and this week’s topic in particular is yes, the question of how to migrate our collaborative/group activities online, and how to do it in ways that do more than what we do f2f. In short, how does technology enable us to do things differently?

That said, taking Warnock’s advice to “focus on what you do well in the classroom “ (xiv) here are some of the ways we use technology for collaborative group work in an English 100 class:

  1. Pre-reading: before a f2f discussion of a text students are asked to develop critical discussion questions in line with their interests or reading of the text. In a f2f class, students bring these questions with them and finish their online discussion in person then report to the class on their discussion. If we were migrating this type of group activity to an online course, I could imagine having students use Zoom to meet online and finish their discussion then perhaps either creating a video where they report back to the class or a handout and a video presentation of their discussion
  2. Pre-reading: sometimes I will post questions for specific parts of a text and groups will be responsible for assigned questions or “chunks” of the text. They will assemble their collective knowledge (collective intelligence) and present it f2f to the class using a one-page handout they collaborate to create. In migrating this activity online, I could include reading and commenting on another group’s handout as the last part of the assignment. Both parts would be graded using a low-stakes rubric emphasizing connectivity
  3. Pre-writing: students develop an outline with their thesis/introduction and body paragraphs that we peer-review online before diving into the first draft of their first major writing project. In an online course, students would have clear directions for the focus of each peer-review (very specific tasks/or work for each peer-review) set deadlines and would be accountable for the time/effort/quality of their peer-review, these would have to be graded assignments which of course would require instructor monitoring and strategic pairing from the beginning

Zooming back out to Warnock’s introduction given my re-reading of this report on teaching new media literacies (above) it seems to me that while Warnock is saying–take what you do best, your teaching strengths and focus on migrating that online, “Confronting the Challenges” says “everyone involved in preparing young people to go out into the real world has contributions to make in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in our society” (4). So are we focusing on what we do well already when we migrate online or are we expanding our definition of literacy to include new literacies and the development of the skills required? I think I totally repeated myself here, what can i say, Gabriel Garcia Marquez said at the end of his life that although he had written many many books, for most of his writing career, he was really just rewriting A Hundred Years of Solitude. Sorry for the long-winded subject line. I am looking forward to learning from your ideas for online group work:)

Yolanda