From the Director - December 2015

January 1, 2016 / By: Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of Faculty Development / Professor of Psychology

Inclusive excellence and teaching for the common good

By: Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of Faculty Development, Professor of Psychology‌‌

As you know, at colleges and universities across the country students are pressing administrators and faculty to confront racism and privilege within their institutions and classrooms. UST students have spoken up, and across our campus plans are being made now to create conversation and training opportunities for staff and faculty. In Faculty Development we are devoting all of Spring semester to providing avenues for faculty to examine implicit bias, recognize and deal with microaggressions, and build skills for guiding difficult classroom conversations.

Keep an eye out for details on spring semester workshops on "Talking about Hot Topics," on microaggressions, and strategies for managing controversial issues in the classroom.  

In addition we’re launching a series of workshops focused on ways to reach effectively the diverse students in our classrooms through attention to course design.  How you structure and communicate your goals, how you design and grade your assignments – the choices you make here impact student success, particularly for all those students who need help navigating what Buffy Smith calls “the hidden curriculum of higher education.”

We are aiming here at the goal of inclusiveness, which is many-faceted and requires that we look hard at our curriculum, our communication, unconscious biases and use of stereotypes. In addition, we need to look at ways that course design can either hinder or facilitate student success for first generation students, second language learners, students with disabilities, and all non-traditional learners.

Course Design for the Common Good shows President Sullivan addressing a crows of new students outside at the University of St. Thomas.Our workshop series, “Course Design for the Common Good” will allow you to implement a few thoughtful design principles for enhancing communication of learning goals and for making assignments more transparent. Your design choices can help make visible the hidden curriculum and ensure that success in your course is not contingent on possessing particular forms of cultural capital. This is not a ‘dumbing down’ of expectations but rather a dismantling of barriers to success – making academic success available to a wider range of students and strengthening learning for all students in your class.

I’m excited about what these workshops will offer for faculty. I hope you’ll join us during J-Term as we offer our first introductory workshop, “Course Design for the Common Good.” These principles are relevant for you no matter what your subject matter or delivery format – face-to-face, blended, or online.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a year filled with student success!