I. Definition of Training Piece
By completing this unit, you will be able to recognize the importance of integrating diversity in the classroom curriculum. In addition, you will be able to identify cultural- specific attributes that lead to greater awareness and appreciation of culturally diverse experiences students bring into the classroom.
Diversity Components: Communication
Obstacles to Effective Communication
Limited Tolerance for Cultural Differences
Pathway to Effective Communication
Moving Beyond Personal Bias
Appreciation and Recognition for Cultural Differences through observations and experiences
Re-affirming an understanding and acceptances of other languages through active listening
Recognizing that stereotyping creates barriers to learning about self and other people
Thinking Rigid vs. Thinking flexibleObstacles to Creating diversity in the Classroom
Creating Diversity in the Classroom
Classroom curriculum promotes diversity
Student personal experiences are encouraged by teacher
Cultural awareness and understanding is encouraged
Deal effectively with differences and learn from everyone and anyone through communication across cultures
B. Summary of Relevant ResearchResearch shows that a student's learning and self-awareness can increase when his/her personal experiences and cultural background is acknowledged in the classroom. Understanding diversity can help us to acquire an appreciation for others' life experiences and broaden our knowledge of the many societal contributions people make that enrich our lives. Effective communication skills also can be increased through learning about the diversity of people. Being open and objective to understanding people's differences leads to greater cooperation for team building, problem solving, leadership, and other resources to help overcome barriers leading to close-mindedness. According to research, understanding diversity can help teachers capitalize on the diverse experiences and resources students bring to the classroom. David Porter, President Emeritus, Skidmore College, stated "Diversity has always been a powerful, even a necessary, catalyst for intellectual progress". In a study, conducted by Alexander Astin, (1993) of undergraduates, he examined whether students' direct involvement in "diversity experiences" affects their academic progress. One component of the study was to determine the frequency with which students interact with persons from diverse backgrounds. Astin discovered that socializing of this nature has a significant positive effect on all aspects of students' academic progress and promotes a positive image of college. In order words, students' chances for success increase by expanding and diversifying their experiences with persons of diverse backgrounds. Through these experiences students learn more about who they are and their ability to relate to others. This, in turn, helps people develop their diversity consciousness.
There is a great body of research on diversity. Today, diversity is receiving a great amount of attention. This can be attributed to the changing demographics in the U.S. According to data from the U.S Department of Education, college students have become increasingly heterogeneous during the last two decades. This trend will continue as elementary and secondary students become more racially and ethnically diverse in the future. Women and minorities will constitute the majority of the new workforce. In addition, college student populations will increasingly become diverse. U.S Census Bureau, 1990, reported that the Hispanic population increased by 53% from 1980 to 1990, from 14.5 million to 25 million, and it is projected that by 2020 minority children are expected to be the majority. The U.S will continue to change to due its demographics, the need for new workforce, i.e. technological and social changes. What diversity education can do is help propel people to move beyond stereotypes and myths that stifle productivity and growth. Diversity skills can in fact help all of us enhance our chances for success. By developing diverse skills, it is possible to become a better student and a more understanding and valuable employee.
Exploration 2: Select a topic that you will be teaching in the next few weeks and integrate activities that promote student experiences and cultural backgrounds. Some sample exercises are listed below in the "student exercises" section.
Exercise 2: Have students define diversity terms followed by group discussions. Some terms are listed below. Students will be able to compare and contrast their definition of terms with classmates. This provides for a stimulating classroom discussion on diversity and increases cultural awareness.
Diversity in the Classroom
Terms to Know
|Institutional racism||Social class||Race|
C. Skill Connection
1. Thinking Styles and Learning Styles: Probably the greatest diversity our students will ever encounter is the diversity of thinking styles because there are literally as many ways of thinking as there are people in the world. To explore this form of diversity, visit the Thinking Styles and Learning Styles module.
V. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I include student's personal experiences in the classroom to promote cultural diversity? A: Encourage students to share their personal experiences in classroom discussions. It is surprising to learn how student's cultural background and personal experiences will enrich the overall experience. In addition, invite students to bring personal artifacts that teach others about their culture and community.
Q: What are ways to change misperceptions about diversity?
A: One of the best ways to work toward changing stereotypes and misunderstandings of diversity is through active learning activities. Get students involved in discussions and activities like those in this module. Have students work in groups and/or provide case studies that require active participation and critical thinking processes. Ask questions of students such as: describe how communication and culture interrelate. Invite students to explore diverse communities and explain how their experiences may be different than their preconceived opinions and ideas of those communities.
VI. Helpful Resources
Creating cultural awareness requires a commitment to on-going learning. Practical application of diversity is important, however, staying current with literature and research is another way to mean new challenges and expand our views of diversity. The following list of books can contribute to enhancing our understanding and appreciation for diversity in the classroom and our world.
Abi-Nader, J. (1993). Meeting the Needs of Multicultural Classroom: Family Values and the Motivation of Minority Students. In Diversity and Teaching Education Yearbook 1. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1993
Garcia, E. (1994). Understanding and Meeting the Challenge of Student Cultural Diversity. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Nieto, S. (1996) Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (3rd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.
Irvine, J. J. (1997) Critical Knowledge for Diverse Teachers and Learners. Washington, DC: American Association fo Colleges for Teacher Education.
www.facultytraining.com to attend a workshop on this topic or bring one to your campus, visit this site or call Faculty Training at (800) 856-5727.
If businesses are going to succeed, regardless of their goals, they need to understand the business case for diversity. It will honestly determine their success.
Carl Jefferson, Diversity Manager, Interstate Hotels Corporation (the largest hotel management firm in the United States.)
Understanding, celebrating and embracing differences provide a rich environment and taps into the best of everybody.
Frank Blethen, CEO of the Seattle Times Company (winner of the 1997 Ida B. Wells Award for his leadership in hiring, training, and advancing minorities in media careers)
Teacher's Assessment of Classroom Diversity
|Do I believe that all students can learn in my classroom and do my attitudes show my belief?||No||Yes|
|Do I have high expectations for all of my students?|
|Do I understand the differences in culture in my classroom?|
|Do I use reality-based learning approaches in my classroom?|
|Do I actively involve my students in their learning?|
|Do I know and consider my students' learning styles in designing and implementing instruction?|
|Do I actively model the behaviors I want my student to acquire?|
|Do I give projects and assignments that encourage students to explore the fullest dimensions of thought?|
|Do I incorporate multicultural perspectives in my instruction?|
|Do I use alternative forms of assessments that help me and my students fully understand their knowledge level?|
|Do I maintain high standards and expectations for all my students in my class?|
|Do I capitalize on my students' backgrounds?|
|Do I use culturally relevant materials in my classroom?|
|Do I use group work in my classroom?|