By Lindsay Davis
In the last post on the CJCLS blog, “Instruction for Diverse Populations Bibliography,” I mentioned that several of us in the ACRL Instruction Section Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee attended the National Diversity in Libraries Conference that was held at UCLA this August. During the conference, I sat it on a session related to instruction called “Educating the Educators: Proactive Approaches to the Inclusive Classroom,” which introduced me to two new resources for developing a more inclusive learning environment, the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP) and the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE).
This session was comprised of two individual presentations. The first presentation was given by Paula M. Smith, Reference Librarian, from Penn State Abington and focused on the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP). GADP is a faculty development program that engages faculty in the exchange of ideas about contemporary global issues in education, with an emphasis on non-Western educational systems. The sessions are three hours long and are open to 20 or so faculty members who register for the program.
After Smith introduced the session, we were asked to complete The Numbers Exercise, which was developed by Roxanna Senyshyn and Marianne Brandt. Essentially, it’s a list of simple math problems, but the directions indicate that subtract means to multiply; divide means to add; add means to divide; and multiply means to subtract. So 12 x 2 really means 12-2. After a few minutes, Smith asked how we felt completing the worksheet. I said it was stressful. The idea behind this is that this is the sort of frustration international and immigrant students feel navigating American academic life.
Smith then discussed the types of GADP sessions they have had at the university. In one program, a panel of international and immigrant students were able to tell faculty members about some struggles they have had in the classroom. For example, a few students mentioned they were not familiar with cursive and were Googling the characters one by one. Some students also explained that they felt uncomfortable because many of their American classmates would leave exams early; these students said they were used to using the whole time allotted for an exam. There were also some challenges about what academic integrity means in the western context.
Another neat thing I jotted down that was a result of one of the GADP sessions was that faculty members who speak more than one language started putting little stickers (or signs) on their windows/doors that said, “My name is_____. I speak ________.”
The second presentation was given by Shannon Simpson, Librarian for Student Engagement and Information Fluency, from Johns Hopkins University. She helped develop the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE), which is a toolkit of “best practices [and] a repository of specific examples that all faculty are welcome to replicate or re-use.”
Simpson shared a sample assignment that professors/librarians teaching information literacy, business, marketing, and communication could use. It’s a simple but effective assignment. “In 2014 a food and entertainment public relations firm called Strange Fruit was the subject of a media backlash. Ask the students to Google the term strange fruit to see why.” Students then answer these questions:
- To what does the term refer?
- Where did the term originate and who has used it since then?
- What would you tell this firm if during the media firestorm they had come to you for advice?
During the session, we also did a pair-share in which we came up with groups or people we could partner with to share about TILE, such as a diversity committee, student life/affinity groups, teaching and learning groups, university departments, human resources, provost/president’s office, and other relevant people or groups.
How is your community or junior college library—or institution at large—working to build and develop more inclusive learning environments and teaching practices? Do you think your institution would benefit from using or adapting these resources?
(Examples from the GADP session revised on Oct. 25th.)