My approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is driven by two beliefs: 1) I embrace a strength-based approach that includes and supports diverse viewpoints in all contexts, leading to stronger innovation and critical thinking for all members of a group.1 2) Through the broader lens of social justice, I acknowledge we must include individuals from all groups in order to serve the diverse groups of our nation and world.2 With these two core beliefs in mind, Ihave worked to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in three broad areas.
Inclusive Excellence in Teaching
I use evidence-based pedagogies to promote inclusivity in my courses. I have taught at three institutions with vastly different campus cultures and student characteristics. Drawing from these experiences, I strategically use “equitable teaching strategies”3 (e.g., instructor talk) to avoid reinforcing stereotypes or triggering stereotype threat, establish an educational culture where harassment is not tolerated, etc.
I seek out and implement resources to increase accessibility. I consider cost as much as possible when choosing textbooks or other resources and provide multiple formats (e.g., hardback, loose-leaf, e-book, library reserve etc.) to respect students’ variable financial situations. I also offer multiple ways for students to contact me with questions and concerns, including traditional and virtual student hours, email, and messaging through the course LMS. When I use classroom technology, I prioritize diverse representation and accessibility (e.g., intentional image choice, video subtitles, dyslexia-friendly fonts, color-blind friendly colors, etc.).
I achieve personal and professional growth by listening to diverse perspectives. Many of the curricular changes I have made resulted from students sharing concerns or making suggestions. For example, over many semesters teaching Gender & Sexuality in Introductory Psychology, conversations with LGBTQIA+ students helped me realize the necessity of providing supplemental material beyond that offered by the text to introduce a more inclusive conceptualization of gender and sexuality that better represents all my students. These interactions not only improve the quality of my teaching but, personally, leave me better equipped to interact across the broad spectrum of humanity inside and outside my classroom.
Inclusive Excellence in Research
I address research questions that bring attention to and ameliorate racial and gender inequities. For example, my doctoral research sought to identify and develop ways to combat home, school, neighborhood, and life experiences that contributed to disparities in White and Black adolescents’ physical and psychosocial well-being.4 A primary goal of my current research is to increase diversity in STEM fields by minimizing attrition of students who are female and/or of color.5, 6 A second major research line I have developed involves using my knowledge of psychometrics to re-validate assessment tools. The results of this work allow the voices of underserved and excluded students to be better characterized and represented in descriptive and evaluative educational research.
I actively recruit and mentor students from underserved groups. As operational director of the Factors influencing Learning, Attitudes, and Mindsets in Education network (FLAMEnet) I adhere to “diversity by design” in recruiting new members and participating institutions. Institutions implementing FLAMEnet interventions include R1, liberal arts, and comprehensive schools; public and private schools; schools in the southeast, northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest; and MSIs, HSIs, and HBCUs, and their students represent a wide range of multiple and overlapping forms of identity. I have also had the privilege of mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students representing diverse backgrounds, experience levels, and future goals. Specifically, I have frequently been requested as a research mentor by international undergraduate students at my institution. Participation in undergraduate research experiences particularly benefits underserved groups, leading to increased persistence and higher rates of graduation in scientific fields.7
Inclusive Excellence in Service
I empower others to advance educational equity by sharing knowledge and resources. I have worked to establish myself as an authority on equitable research methods and statistical practices both within FLAMEnet and other research and professional networks. Through consulting with others, I contribute to the general recruitment and retention of underserved groups in the professoriate. For example, I work with CC BIOINSITES to assist educators at 2-year institutions with biology education research. Results from this research help improve educational and wellbeing outcomes for students at these schools. However, by helping community college instructors develop skills and resources to investigate these questions themselves, this work also helps to rectify current inequities wherein the large majority of biology education research is often conducted at institutions that do not serve the majority of biology students.8
I create inclusive and equitable communities for others to share their knowledge and resources. To address my various project management responsibilities, I have had the chance to organize and facilitate meetings with diverse groups of motivated and enthusiastic individuals. I work to ensure that all voices within these spaces feel heard and valued. This may include communicating expectations and creating group norms at the beginning of a meeting, providing specific opportunities for undergraduate researchers/community college instructors/other underrepresented groups to share their thoughts, or simply acting as a time monitor to ensure that no single voice (including mine) dominates a conversation. By using these and other practices, which I inform by engaging in continued personal education and discussion on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I hope to facilitate discussions where all attendees feel comfortable sharing information and requesting help, and where cognitive effort can be devoted to the organizational task at hand, rather than navigating any inequity or exclusion.
- Nelson, J. & Soto, N. Diversity and global learning. In Linder, K.E. and Hayes, C.M.(Eds.), High-impact practices in online education: Research and best practices, (pp. 211-242).Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
- Wallerstein, N. & Duran, B. (2010). Community-based participatory research contributions to intervention research: The intersection of science and practice to improve health equity. American Journal of Public Health, 100(51), 540-546.
- Tanner, K. D. (2013). Structure matters: Twenty-One teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 322-331.
- Lanza, S. T., Vasilenko, S. A., Dziak, J. J., & Butera, N. M. (2015). Trends among U.S. high school seniors in recent marijuana use and associations with other substances: 1976–2013. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(2), 198-204. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.006
- Chen, X., and Ho, P. (2012). STEM in Postsecondary Education: Entrance, Attrition, and Coursetaking Among 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students (NCES 2013-152). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
- Kendricks, K.D., Arment, A.A., Nedunuri, K.V., & Lowell, C.A. (2019). Aligning best practices in student success and career preparedness. An exploratory study to establish pathways to STEM careers for undergraduate minority students, Journal of Research in Technical Careers, 3(1), 27-48.
- Hernandez, P. R., Woodcock, A., Estrad, M., & Schultz, P. W. (2018). Undergraduate research experiences broaden diversity in the scientific workforce. BioScience, 68(3), 204-211.
- Schinske, J. N., Balke, V. L., Bangera, M. G., Bonney, K. M., Brownell, S. E., Carter, R. S., Curran-Everett, D., Dolan, E. L., Elliott, S. L., Fletcher, L., Gonzalez, B., Gorga, J. J., Hewlett, J. A., Kiser, S. L., McFarland, J. L., Misra, A., Nenortas, A., Ngeve, S. M., Pape-Lindstrom, P. A., Seidel, S. B., …, and Corwin, L. A. (2017). Broadening participation in biology education research: Engaging community college students and faculty. CBE-Life Sciences, 16(2):mr1, 1-11.