June 26, 2008

Questions to Consider for a Multicultural Classroom

One of the most important and challenging tasks for an instructor or faculty member is to create an inclusive classroom. Shari Saunders and Diana Kardia from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching from the University of Michigan have made some excellent suggestions for creating such a classroom.

Areas to consider include:

  • Course content
  • Your prior assumptions
  • Your planning of class sessions
  • Your knowledge about the diverse backgrounds of your students, and
  • You decisions, comments, and behaviors

In choosing course content, the authors (Saunders & Kardia, 2004) recommend considering “Whose voices, perspectives, and scholarship are being represented?” (¶ 5), including “as much as possible, materials written or created by people of different backgrounds and/or perspectives” (¶5) and recognizing “How are the perspectives and experiences of various groups being represented?” (¶5).

By reflecting on your assumptions, you have an opportunity to consider how these assumptions might become evident in the classroom. You can then respond accordingly. When planning your classes, you might consider accommodations, cultural reference points, instructional strategies, and controversial topics among others (Saunders & Kardia, 2004). Clearly, getting to know your students and their backgrounds allows you to make educated decisions, comments and behaviors in responding to criticism, student identities, conflict, and inequity.

You can review the entire report here: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/P3_1.html

Other resources include:

Tips for Teachers from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University


Diversity Web at AACU


Kaplan, M. & Miller, A. T. (Eds.) (2007). Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning.. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 111. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Don't forget to check out our library at the Center for other resources


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