Faculty Leading Faculty: University of Colorado, Boulder Reflects on Good Teaching Across Difference
By Heather Wathington, Editor and Director of Programs,
Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives
Professor Christine Yoshinaga-Itano,
Professor and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Mary Ann Shea, and Professor William Wei. Photo by Larry Harwood, University of Colorado at Boulder.
With a desire to create vibrant learning environments all across campus, University of Colorado designed the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program (FTEP) seventeen years ago. The goal of the program is to assist faculty members in critically reflecting on pedagogy in order to provide satisfying learning environments for the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-B) community. As part of the program, Program Director Mary Ann Shea has sought an important effort to understand how faculty at CU-B have incorporated diversity into their teaching. The result has been a series of informative, thoughtful papers by CU-B faculty that describe the range of ways to teach across difference.
CU-B, a research university, is committed to embracing diversity in each and every aspect of the campus community. But like many institutions across the nation, CU-B has its share of challenges. The student body is predominantly white and not as ethnically diverse as some would like it to be. The faculty is predominantly white as well, although UC-B had made dramatic strides in diversifying its faculty over the last two years. Diversity is important to both the Chancellor and the Provost, and addressing a variety of diversity concerns is a major part of the universityÕs strategic plan. Infusing diversity into the curriculum and understanding how faculty actually teach in diverse classrooms have been important priorities for FTEP. FTEP wants to explore the variety of ways in which faculty members enhance diversity in the classroom both between and among students as well as in the curricula.
Several years ago, FTEP decided to publish a Diversity in Teaching and Learning Series. A faculty committee worked with FTEP Director Mary Ann Shea to produce the series. To understand how diversity is incorporated into faculty teaching, the FTEP program recrafted Hildebrand, Wilson, and Dienst (1971) good teaching survey to focus on diversity and asked CU-B students to assess the impact that diversity had on their learning experiences. The survey also asked students to name a few of their dynamic instructors.
Student survey responses did not yield any useful information for faculty to adopt or adapt for their own course. So because the programÕs goal was to amass suggestions that could be readily adopted or adapted, selected faculty were asked to write about how they incorporated diversity into their teaching. FTEP wanted essays that integrated both faculty teaching strategies and the faculty memberÕs understanding of how to integrate issues of difference into their pedagogical style. Their essays were then compiled into monographs and distributed to the faculty community. Truly, this program exemplifies how faculty peers can work with one another to enhance pedagogy.
The thirteen dynamic essays the faculty produced address a broad range of diversity topics. Essays discuss such subjects as teaching ESL students in the university classroom, optimizing the learning environment when teaching with students with disabilities, developing and teaching an inclusive curriculum, and fostering constructive dialogue on diversity in the classroom. The complete compendium of essays can be found at www.colorado.edu/ftep/publications/.