Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 3

Using Diverse Narratives and Storytelling To Help Create A More Inclusive Classroom Students are entering today's college classroom with a diverse range of backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and opinions. Ac- cording to a 2016 report from the U.S Department of Educa- tion, since 1980 the share of white undergraduate enrollment declined from 81 percent of total enrollment to 55 percent in 2014. Over that same time span, the undergraduate enroll- ment continued to rise steadily for black, Hispanic, and Asian students. And to get a glimpse of the future we need to look no further than children under the age of 18. By 2020 the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting that half the nation's school-aged children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group. Diversity on campus extends beyond race and ethnicity. Gen- der identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, physical ability, beliefs, and cultural heritage all contribute to the rich diversity on campuses today. That diversity enriches the educational and social experiences for most students. But there is also the potential for under-represented groups to feel excluded. One unexpected potential source of marginalization may be found in students' course materials. Course Materials Need to Keep Pace In the recent Harvard Voices in Diversity Project, research- ers interviewed students at four different campuses across the United States. The primary focus of the study was to ex- amine the positive and negative experiences of women and students of color at predominately white campuses. In addi- tion to on-campus microaggressions, many of the students interviewed also shared that they frequently found examples of racism and sexism in their course materials. In some ex- Continued on reverse... amples the bias was a result of omission; simply not provid- ing a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds in the assigned readings. But a few students believed that some of their course content was implicitly biased in its language and presentation. Some students also reported that they felt that the perspec- tives of their race or ethnicity were not included or valued in lecture and class discussions. These feelings of exclusion can have negative consequences for all students. Marginalization Leads to Negative Consequences Research has shown that students who feel that their views are not represented or valid in a course may become less motivated to actively participate in class. And according to a recent study published in The Journal of Higher Education, it may also impact cognitive development. The researchers in the study Engaging with Diversity: How Positive and Negative " Most of the material has nothing to do with African Americans, Hispanics, just mainly white people…the only way on campus that you can really learn about a differ- ent race, is, just, taking African-American studies and different classes just for that race. —Student Participant in Voices of Diversity study, Caplan & Ford 2014

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of SAGE - Storytelling