Promoting an Equitable and Inclusive Learning Environment

The 2012-2013 UC Campus Climate survey noted a generally positive working environment for many Berkeley students, faculty, and staff, and indicated various opportunities for improvement. Below are potential strategies to best support the learning and well-being of all students.

How can I help students to see themselves in their learning experiences?

Research suggests that students from underrepresented backgrounds regularly face barriers to their learning, including, but not limited to, racial stereotyping, imposter syndrome and stereotype threat. Such barriers can negatively impact students’ academic performance and mental health. Below are strategies and resources for helping students foster a sense of belonging in the classroom and in their learning.

How can I support all students to participate in small/large group discussions?

Studies of STEM courses have shown that women students are less likely to volunteer responses in a whole-class discussion. This environment can lead to a perceived gender gap in performance: outspokenness in the classroom has been shown to influence men’s perception and underestimation of the academic performance of women in the course. To help mitigate inequitable discussion spaces, consider the following strategies for building structured learning activities.

How can I explore and adjust the biases I bring to my academic spaces?

Instructor biases can affect many facets of a student’s learning experience, including assessment, academic performance, and student motivation. The impact of these biases can extend beyond the classroom, as one study suggests that faculty will rate a student more highly, based on their resume, if the name on the resume sounds male. These inequalities tend to be perpetuated by faculty who think that the evaluative process unbiased. Below lists strategies for instructors to explore their own biases and respond in ways that create opportunities for all.

How can I foster a growth mindset in the classroom?

Students’ mindsets, referring to how students perceive their abilities, play a key role in their motivation and academic achievement. For example, one study finds that women’s reported interest and academic performance was, in part, mediated by messaging about math being a fixed trait. Recently, research finds that instructors’ mindsets may also impact student performance in STEM courses, leading to gaps in achievement and motivation for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Explore the following resources to learn more about the importance of a growth mindset and how you can foster this mindset in your academic space.

How can I learn more about inclusive teaching strategies for my remote course?

Remote instruction can feel like an isolating endeavour for students and instructors. Consider how you can create a more inclusive learning environment with the following resources.

For further exploration, UC Berkeley’s Multicultural Education Program maintains a list of tools and resources for diverse and inclusive classroom practices.