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Pedagogy and Practice: Teaching Diversity in Classrooms

Tags: Vol. 1, Issue 2, December 2020

Aligned with Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning new Strategic Plan, and as part of an ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), in September 2018 a group of FSCS faculty and senior leadership staff began a four-phased research project on pedagogy and practice within the Faculty of Social and Community Services (FSCS). The team consisting of Soheila Pashang, Jaspreet Bal, Christine McKenzie, Joanna Amirault, Neil Price, Rai Reece, and Juan Jaramillo Orozco, aimed to:

  • Identify gaps and strengths of the existing pedagogical approaches used in teaching diversity-related content
  • Understand how faculty use social justice, anti-oppression, anti-racist, and human rights lenses as part of their practice
  • Explore the experiences of faculty teaching diversity-related content and the reaction of their students to course material
  • Explore the experiences of students and incorporate their voices into the curriculum.

Diversity education can become a site of controversy, evoking conflict, resistance, and personal growth where underlying individual belief systems and ideological discourses surface and transform into pedagogical learning. The research applied anti-racism, anti-oppression, intersectionality, feminist, and equity theoretical frameworks. The team utilized these theories in order to situate this research in existing teaching and curriculum practice, as well as to locate and understand the various ways in which diversity education impacts students and faculty inside and outside classroom spaces.

The research team’s methodology consisted of an exploratory, qualitative research design in which a survey questionnaire was distributed among FSCS faculty from multifaceted programs, followed by 11 in-depth interviews. In addition, to incorporate students experiences and reflect their voices into the curriculum we will be distributing a survey questionnaire in the coming week.

While Canada is considered one of the most diverse societies, we rarely explore the experiences of faculty teaching diversity education or students attending their classes. Our research will contribute to the Humber community in applying equitable practices and eliminating barriers that might hinder diverse groups of students from reaching their potential. A Fall 2019, raced-based data set collected by the Humber Student Success Survey (HSSS) clearly highlights racial diversity among our incoming students, with a goal of understanding the relation between race and academic success. Our research will further contribute to the scholarly work in highlighting challenges faced by racialized and marginalized students and allying faculty, while offering a learning space for interactive critical reflection and personal growth.

This research project is funded by the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Teaching Innovation Fund. We acknowledge the following individuals for their contribution towards this project: Tonia Richard, MSW; Dr. Heidi Marsh & Dr. Siobhan Williams – CTL; Valentina Tasillo (RA), & Senior Dean and Lake Shore Campus Principal, Derek Stockley, who has been a true force in supporting and pushing forward this project.

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