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IMPACT In Action: Planning for Equity Discussion

By Karen Gaines posted 06-30-2020 14:59:29


How do you plan for equity before your course starts? 

 IMPACT’s Proficiency pillar reminds us that building proficiency requires creating learning  environments that are welcoming and that promote principles of access, equity, and inclusion. IMPACT Ownership goes further to state that faculty need to be sensitive to situational factors (e.g., students balancing family, jobs, and school) and provide support for overcoming such challenges.  

 Before the course starts, consider your course structure by examining  your syllabus, class policies, pacing, materials and their costs, platforms, and assessments. What are some ways we can structure our courses to anticipate and respond to the disparities in resources available to students with regard to online environments? How can we structure our courses so that they don’t favor students with means or privilege?





07-07-2020 10:38:56

During the spring semester, we had a pause to shift our courses online but had to have a second pause in the semester because of the realization that many of our students lacked any access to technology. The most common issues that existed revolved around a lack of access to WiFi and computers. I am happy to share that our president and staff worked to respond to this issue as quickly as possible by delivering laptops and wifi to our students!

My response to this reality has been but a start as outlined below:
Keeping my video lectures short so they are easy to download on a cell phone
Not requiring students to print assignments
Allowing students to submit assignments by photographs with their phones
Not requiring mandatory times for students to meet with me (asynchronous more than synchronous)

More needs to be considered for sure, but this point was where I started that I wished to share in my thoughts going forward.

07-06-2020 19:47:37

I've accumulated  any handouts for my classes to make getting a textbook less important.  Last spring, it made my calculus class easy to transition online, even though that wasn't the intent.  I also taught a course for the first time last semester, and there I was just barely treading water.    I guess the online equivalent of this is to make as many of the activities asynchronous as possible, which gives students some flexibility in finding internet access.  I still envision having synchronous meetings, but I am trying to be judicious with them.  

Some professors in our department have worked hard to create free resources for students, using WebWork for online homework and creating or piloting OER textbooks.  I haven't been at the forefront in creating them, but I adopt those early on.

My next goal in teaching is to rely less on testing, and vary my assessments.  Even though I am happy with the variety in my test questions, I think long term projects have more opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge.  I've taken steps in this direction, but still have a ways to go.

07-06-2020 17:44:02

I have gained a lot from the USC Center for Urban Education Tool for Reviewing your Syllabus. We had a PD session at my college related to it. Their research shows that students make first impressions about our approachability from reading our syllabus and that in the language we use we send cues about how accessible we might be or our attitudes towards students. After writing my syllabus for the summer, I then reviewed it using their tool and made several adjustments. The link is below.

07-01-2020 14:52:30

A national survey reported that students felt like they were no longer connected to other students.  We are designing professional development around strategies to help students connect to other students early in the semester.  One way is to place them in chat rooms outside of class time to talk with other students about life issues not just academic issues.

07-01-2020 10:48:45

I am currently struggling with this as I prepare for the FALL semester with my face-to-face classes that may have to transition to REMOTE learning or ONLINE learning. I experience first hand in the past SPRING semester when my face-to-face classes had to transition to REMOTE learning due to the pandemic that not all my students had the necessary tools/equipment/access that was required to be successful in the REMOTE environment. I am giving it much thought on how to best structure my FALL courses to make it accessible to all students no matter what the learning environment becomes. I am curious to what others are planning to do with their courses.