Diversity Teaching Workshops

Diversity Teaching Workshops

As part of the Center for Teaching & Learning's (CTL) Teaching & Diversity Professional Development Series, CTL regularly offers workshops that engage participants with research-based pedagogical practices that support diversity, equity and inclusion. Participants learn how they can enhance students’ learning experiences and academic success across a wide range of cultural, social, linguistic and learning differences by adopting a strength-based, inclusive approach to teaching and learning grounded in the value of diversity. Workshops are interactive and involve participants in experiential, collaborative, and reflective learning experiences in a supportive space.

Unless indicated Diversity Teaching Workshops are facilitated by Dr. Kirsten Helmer, Director of Programming for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with the CTL. Diversity Teaching Workshops are open to all UMass faculty, post-docs and graduate students with teaching responsibilities. Upon request and availability, Dr. Helmer offers workshops to colleges and departments about topics of specific interest to them. The CTL also invites experts on particular topics to facilitate workshops as guest presenters.

Overview of Past Diversity Teaching Workshops

Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the College Classroom 

Whether conscious of it or not, instructors and students bring most of who they are to the learning environment, including their biases and stereotypes. Biases can emerge in the form of (micro)aggressions during class discussions, in student-student interactions during group or lab work, or in interactions between students and instructors. If left unaddressed, biases and microaggressions negatively impact the learning climate and can hurt students’ engagement, their sense of belonging and academic success. In this workshop participants examine the concepts of implicit bias, microaggressions, and stereotype threat; how these can manifest; and how they impact learning environments. Participants have opportunities to explore strategies for effectively responding to microaggressions. 

Facilitating Difficult Class Discussions and Navigating Challenging Classroom Dynamics

Have you ever experienced that moment during class when emotions run high and the discussion turns into a heated exchange where people feel defensive and stop listening to each other? Such hot moments can have serious negative impacts on your students and their learning.  As instructors, you may feel triggered yourself, or you may feel helpless and even paralyzed, not knowing how to respond. Maybe you even find yourself trying to avoid controversial topics. In this workshop, participants explore they dynamics of challenging classroom discussions and dynamics and discuss purposeful strategies for cooling down tension and turning hot moments into powerful learning opportunities.

Syllabus Re-Design Workshop: Six Principles of an Inclusive Syllabus

Re-designing the syllabus is an excellent way to communicate to students our intent to cultivate an inclusive and supportive learning environment. The syllabus gives students a first impression of the instructor and what to expect from the upcoming learning environment. The syllabus is also an opportunity for instructors to set the class climate, clearly communicate their teaching philosophy, and describe their best pedagogical intentions for motivating students and supporting their academic success. In this workshop, presenter Kirsten Helmer introduces participants to six principles of an inclusive syllabus design, providing examples that illustrate how these principles can be applied to the design or re-design of any syllabus.

Creating Inclusive Learning Experiences

In this workshop, presenter Kirsten Helmer introduces participants to flexible theoretical frameworks for designing courses and lessons in ways that provide students with multiple ways of engaging with course content, constructing knowledge, and demonstrating learning while accommodating cultural and learning style differences. Participants identify learning barriers that may exist for their students and ways to remove or reduce these.

Designing for Diversity and Inclusiveness through Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Presenter Kirsten Helmer engages participants in this workshop with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which offer a conceptual framework for inclusive and equitable course (re)design. UDL focuses on addressing systemic barriers to learning by providing multiple and flexible pathways to learning success. Compelling evidence exists indicating that a UDL approach to course design supports learning diversity in the classroom and helps the academic achievement of traditionally underserved students, such as students with disabilities, those of racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and first generation students. The workshop offers participants opportunities to brainstorm with their colleagues ways to incorporate UDL principles into their course design and teaching practices.

Best Practices for Fostering Students’ Capacities to Engage with Issues of Diversity

In this workshop, presenter Kirsten Helmer had participants explore best practices for creating inclusive learning environments that foster students’ capacities and skills to engage in class conversations on diversity issues, and for meeting the new GenEd diversity learning outcomes. Participants also considered strategies for managing hot moments. 

Diversity & General Education: Writing a Successful Course Proposal for GenEd DU/DG Courses

This session, led by Kirsten Helmer and members of the GenEd council, provided information for assisting faculty with the expedited review process for their existing GenEd course with a DU/DG designation to meet the new General Education Diversity Requirements, and faculty who want to propose a new course seeking a GenEd DU or DG designation. Participants were introduced to a graphic organizer that can help faculty to visualize how their proposed course will meet the new diversity learning outcomes.

Diversity and General Education – Aligning How You Teach with the New GenEd DIV Learning Outcomes

This session, led by Kirsten Helmer, provided faculty who are currently teaching a GenEd course with a DU/DG designation with a midterm check-in opportunity to share and discuss challenges and successes related to engaging their students with the new GenEd Diversity Learning Outcomes.

Small Teaching: From Minor Changes to Major Learning - Guest presenter Dr. James M. Lang. 

Research from the learning sciences and a variety of educational settings suggests that a small number of key principles can improve learning in almost any type of college or university course, from traditional lectures to flipped classrooms. This interactive workshop introduced some of those principles, offered practical suggestions for how they might foster positive change in higher education teaching and learning, and guided faculty participants to consider how these principles might manifest themselves in their current and upcoming courses.

Understanding and Combating Impostor Syndrome - Guest presenter Valerie Young

This workshop had participants explore how to mitigate [their own] impostor feelings in themselves or others, recognize and address it in the classroom, and work to positively affect changes in academic culture that can fuel self-doubt in students and faculty.

For more information, contact Kirsten Helmer