Inclusive Classrooms at Lafayette Faculty Panel

How are faculty at Lafayette College implementing inclusive teaching? Below is a collective summary of recommended approaches used and described by five faculty from diverse disciplines and ranks.

Course Design

  • Include the College’s Diversity Statement on the course syllabus and use in-class time to discuss why creating an equitable learning environment is important.
  • Carefully consider course names and descriptions and whether they appeal to a diverse student population.
  • Integrate diverse content into course syllabi by including authors from diverse countries of origin, gender, and race/ethnicity when possible.
  • Offer office hours at more times to provide more opportunity for various students to attend (e.g. student athletes).
  • Create opportunities for students to apply course material to real life issues.
  • Use examples from the discipline that allow students to consider issues around diversity and inclusion when feasible.

Community Building

  • Set the stage for inclusion the first day of class by indicating that discrimination, bias incidents, etc. of any kind will not be tolerated.
  • Get to know students’ names and require them to also use each other’s names during discussion. In smaller classes, the use of name tent cards can facilitate this process.
  • Carefully consider the composition of groups. Depending on the context, choose student groups for long-term projects rather than allow self-selection of partners. Try not to isolate students from marginalized groups when feasible.

Bias Awareness and Navigating Difficult Topics

  • Be aware of any stereotypes associated with the discipline, and use classroom opportunities to challenge such stereotypes.
  • Avoid making assumptions about students based on stereotypes.
  • When course content relates to diversity and inclusion, accept that students will feel somewhat uncomfortable during discussions.
  • When bias is discussed in class, encourage students to reflect upon whether it is functional or non-functional (i.e. harmful).
  • In courses where difficult topics are discussed:
    • Be explicit that a major goal is to use evidence in a scientific way to discuss the issues at hand;
    • Allow the material to speak for itself, inviting the students into another reality;
    • Recognize that different students will likely have different responses to the content; and
    • Describe diversity awareness as an important learning tool for empathy, and becoming a more informed human being.