Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

Tips for teaching about diversity and equity

These materials were compiled by Meagan Patterson, an associate professor of educational psychology and a faculty fellow at the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Encourage all students to participate

  • Consider assigning roles (recorder, presenter, etc.) to make sure that students have equal opportunities to participate
  • Multiple avenues for participation (e.g., pre-class or in-class writing) allow students to draw on their individual strengths
  • Consider how quieter students can indicate a desire to speak

Set ground rules

  • Everyone performs better when they know expectations ahead of time
  • Create an atmosphere of inclusion and respect
  • Student participation in setting ground rules can promote engagement and “buy-in”
  • Referring to a rule helps take some responsibility off the instructor

Treat students as individuals

  • Don’t ask students to speak for their whole group
  • Allow students to draw on their own lives and experiences when appropriate; this promotes meaningful learning

Take others’ perspectives and encourage students to do the same

  • Acknowledge your own identity and how you may be perceived
  • Readings and films can demonstrate other experiences and promote perspective-taking
  • How this works may change from semester to semester depending on the composition of your classroom

Plan for problems before they occur

  • Set goals and inform students of those goals (we respond better when we know why we are being asked to do something)
  • Set ground rules ahead of time (civility, appropriate evidence)
  • Think about when you want to step in and when you want to let a discussion progress
  • Draw on resources (faculty, students, web resources) to learn about what issues have come up in the past and how to handle them

Get in touch with struggling students and point them to campus resources when necessary

Sample syllabus statements about diversity, inclusivity, and civility

  • The instructor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the instructor’s expectation that ALL students experience this classroom as a safe environment.
  • The University of Kansas supports an inclusive learning environment in which diversity and individual differences are understood, respected, and appreciated. We believe that all students benefit from training and experiences that will help them to learn, lead, and serve in an increasingly diverse society. All members of our campus community must accept the responsibility to demonstrate civility and respect for the dignity of others. Expressions or actions that disparage a person’s or group’s race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, gender identity / expression, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, or disability are contrary to the mission of the University. We expect that KU students, faculty, and staff will promote an atmosphere of respect for all members of our KU community.
  • Civility and respect for the opinions of others are very important in an academic environment. It is likely you may not agree with everything that is said or discussed in the classroom. Courteous behavior and responses are expected at all times. When you disagree with someone, be sure that you make a distinction between criticizing an idea and criticizing the person. Expressions or actions that disparage a person’s or race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, gender identity / expression, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, or marital, parental, or veteran status are contrary to the mission of this course and will not be tolerated.

Further Reading and Resources

CTE turns 25

The Center for Teaching Excellence is celebrating its 25th birthday this academic year. Watch for special events and workshops.