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Increase Belonging in Your Classroom
Improve your teaching with simple tips
During the recent Journal of Economic Teaching Symposium, Both Gary “Hoov” Hover and Jose Fernandez, talked about the importance of investing in the teaching of economics. Hoov, specifically, discussed the importance of making economics welcoming to all students.
How to Make Economics More Welcoming
Improving the classroom environment is the first step to making economics welcoming. As educators prepare for the kickoff of the academic year, I am sharing with you “low cost” tips that I previously discussed in my 2022 paper “Classroom management and student interaction interventions: Fostering diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the undergraduate economics classroom”.
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“Low Cost” Interventions
These are low cost interventions because they are not big changes and educators can implement them easily. I have broken them down into five areas of focus, I cover three areas here. I encourage you to read the paper for more details.
Principle 1: Focusing on facilitating a sense of belonging by being welcoming
Start by sending a welcome email to your students ahead of class commencement. This proactive step not only sets a positive tone but also conveys your enthusiasm for the subject matter and your commitment to their success. Utilize this opportunity to share preferred pronouns and signal your dedication to diversity and inclusivity. Remember, making this connection well before the first day of class can make a significant difference.
Principle 2: Set clear expectations
Recognize that student success hinges on their ability to grasp and meet expectations. While instructors may assume clarity, discussions with students often reveal a gap in understanding. This gap, particularly pronounced among first-generation students, underscores the necessity of transparent communication. What might seem like common knowledge to us could be uncharted territory for our students.
A prime example is email communication. While straightforward for us, students may feel anxiety and uncertainty while reaching out to faculty. Bridge this gap by explicitly teaching email etiquette—remember, our role is to educate.
Principle 3: Selecting course content that expresses diversity
The impact of our teaching materials on students' perceptions and comfort levels cannot be overstated. The examples and images we employ in class can either foster inclusivity or inadvertently contribute to alienation. Reflect on how you navigate discussions of race and gender and be intentional in your choices.
Choose content that dismantles stereotypes and reinforces diversity, resonating with all students.
More Low Cost Interventions
These principles are a few of the strategies covered in my paper. For a deeper dive and more illustrative examples, I encourage you to explore the complete paper.
Let's commit ourselves to creating economics classrooms that resonate with every student. Through deliberate efforts, we can shape an inclusive environment where students feel valued, understood, and empowered to excel.
Tell us About Your Experience
Are you an educator or student with your own examples of how a welcoming environment changed your educational experience? Leave a comment or share on social media. Make sure to tag me using @DrAalbahrani !
Here is a video that provides more examples