Dr. Tracie Marcella Addy

Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning, Lafayette College

Measuring Inclusion Efforts: Tools for Assessment, Feedback, and Reflection

You might be interested in reflecting upon or assessing your individual inclusive teaching efforts,  or have general questions about the climate of inclusion within your department or more broadly at your institution. You may want to know what tools already exist in the literature or are otherwise available. The list below captures several of such instruments including those that are instructor-focused, student-focused, or have multiple audiences. They include surveys, rubrics, inventories, and other types of tools that could be used for assessment or reflection purposes. You might notice that the instruments vary in the factors they measure related to inclusive teaching or broader inclusive climates, and some have psychometric property information available (i.e. validity and reliability evidence) for the context in which they were developed. Please feel free to share this list, and send other instruments that can be added.

Updated: 12/4/21

Instructor-Focused

Surveys

Inclusive Teaching Strategies Inventory (ITSI)

Measures faculty attitudes and actions towards accommodations and Universal Design for Learning principles. Seven constructs include: accommodations, accessible course materials, course modifications, inclusive lecture strategies, inclusive classroom, inclusive assessment, and disability laws and concepts. Validity and reliability evidence present.

Inclusive Teaching Strategies Inventory – Distance Education (ITSI-DE)

Adapted from the ITSI to assess strategies used in distance learning. Validity and reliability evidence present.

Reflection Tools

Course Design

Social Justice Syllabus Design Tool

Supports instructor reflection on course syllabi. Focuses on relationship, community, and process.

Inclusion by Design: Tool Helps Faculty Examine Their Teaching Practices

Allows instructors to review the design of their course. Focuses on inclusion and course context, inclusion and “text”: syllabus and course design, inclusion and subtext.

Teaching Practices

Inclusive Teaching Strategies: Reflecting on Your Practice

Inventory that instructors can use to reflect on their inclusive teaching practices.

Inclusive Teaching Strategies Inventory

Adapted from the Inclusive Teaching Strategies: Reflecting on Your Practice tool and includes a gender equity lens.

Comprehensive

Inclusive Teaching Higher Education Rubric

Allows educators to examine specific standards around inclusive teaching, including: faculty awareness, learning environment, course overview and syllabus, instructional materials, instructional strategies, and assessment.

Student-Focused

Surveys

Institutional Environment

Diverse Learning Environments Survey

Provides insight into students’ overall perceptions of the institutional climate and campus practices.

General Sense of Belonging

Psychological Sense of School Membership (PSSM)

Assesses students’ perceived sense of belonging. Originally used with middle school students. Validity and reliability evidence present.

Sense of Belonging Scale (Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship)

Adapted from the Panorama Student Survey scale and sense of belonging survey developed by York (2016). Modifiable to administer at the course or departmental level.

Sense of Belonging Scale (Hoffman et al., 2002)

Measures perceived peer support, perceived faculty support/comfort, perceived classroom comfort, perceived isolation, empathetic faculty understanding. 

Departmental Sense of Belonging

Belongingness Scale

Assesses belongingness, engagement, and self-confidence more broadly, and at the department level. Validity and reliability evidence present.

Sense of Social Fit Scale

Measures students’ sense of social fit to a group (e.g. department).

Departmental Sense of Belonging and Involvement (DeSBI) (Biology Department)

Adapted from the Psychological Sense of School Membership (PSSM). Contains three subscales: sense of belonging: valued competence, sense of belonging: social acceptance, involvement. Validity and reliability evidence present.

Engineering Department Inclusion Survey (EDIL)

Assesses student perceptions along four scales: department caring, department diversity, and department pride.

Multiple Audiences

Panorama Equity and Inclusion Survey

Measures experiences and actions of belonging and inclusion for students, teachers, and staff at the K-12 level. Major areas assessed are diversity and inclusion, cultural awareness and action, sense of belonging, educating all students, professional learning about equity. Validity and reliability evidence present.

The Elephant in the Room: Tackling Personal Barriers to the Adoption of Inclusive Teaching

A variety of inclusive teaching resources exist including our book What Inclusive Instructors Do, but there is an elephant in the room. This elephant consists of the personal barriers that inhibit the adoption of inclusive teaching. In a study, my co-authors and I found that these barriers can include: lack of awareness, fear, unwillingness to change teaching practices, not feeling responsible, and challenges with facilitating inclusive student-student interactions. These were not the only barriers described by study participants. They also reported a variety of institutional barriers. Here we’ll address the personal ones. Each of these obstacles on their own or in combination can potentially hinder an instructor’s utilization of inclusive teaching practices.

In my experiences I have found that: The adoption of inclusive instruction often involves: (1) becoming aware of the elephant in the room, the personal barriers, (2) making a commitment to modify teaching practices, and (3) trusting processes that unfold after teaching inclusively.

Let’s consider each barrier one by one, unpacking these findings. 

Lack of awareness 

In the study, we found that this barrier can take on two forms: (1) not being aware of types of teaching practices that are inclusive, or (2) not recognizing that existing practices utilized are exclusionary or inequitable. I continue to observe that instructors who are dissatisfied with their current instructional practices and are willing to learn more about inclusive teaching are in better positions to overcome these barriers. As a case example,  an instructor who had been teaching for many years acknowledged their shortcomings with inclusive teaching during a workshop. This vulnerable act of self-disclosure was commendable. The instructor was also very aware that there were many things they did not know about being inclusive and were receptive to hearing recommendations from their colleagues newer to teaching. While I cannot speak as to whether this instructor moved forward on implementing inclusive teaching approaches following the workshop, what was clear was that they acknowledged the elephant in the room, sought to increase their awareness, and were open to change. For many, COVID-19 has revealed the need to teach inclusively given that inequities although there previously, have become more visible. Now is the ideal time to hold onto what has been learned and keep inclusion embedded within all future instruction. 

Fear

Instructors have shared feelings of guilt about something they could have done better while teaching because they care deeply about students. I have seen that being fearful in an anticipatory way can inhibit the adoption of inclusive teaching by holding instructors to a standstill. Reallocating this energy into a positive direction, not expecting perfectionism, and espousing a growth mindset has helped many move forward in their inclusive teaching efforts.  Also, taking small steps can be transformative, such as changing one thing in a course to advance inclusion, as well as informally observing the teaching of trusted colleagues who implement inclusive practices in their classes. There is no denying that we will likely make some mistakes, and we need to remind ourselves that we are not perfect and can always seek to do better. We are always growing as inclusive instructors.  

Unwillingness to change teaching practices 

For instructors who feel that their teaching practices are just fine or are not open to change, an important question to ask is what evidence they have that their instruction is working? For example, is it working for a diversity of learners? Reflection is critical here because sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Similar to above, implementing small changes in teaching practices has the potential to challenge these assumptions and lead to changes in mindset. 

Not wanting to take responsibility 

Another barrier we uncovered is around responsibility, particularly that the work of equity and inclusion is assumed to be housed in certain spaces that exclude learning environments. Yet, when I speak with students they express the significance of their instructors fostering welcoming environments in the classroom and the many positive impacts of such actions. The instructor can play a key role in promoting an inclusive environment in a course. 

Challenges with promoting inclusion in student-student interactions 

Often instructors acknowledge that they find inclusivity in student-student interactions difficult to navigate. The good news is that instructors need not have all of the answers here. I have seen so much good come from instructors co-creating classroom guidelines with their students early in the course to set the tone for inclusivity.  There are a number of other strategies for fostering welcoming environments described in our book. 

Reflecting on these barriers, what if we shift to asking the following questions?

  • Lack of awareness:  What steps can I take to learn more about inclusive teaching approaches and the diversity of my students?

 

  • Fear: How can I take risks in my teaching to advance equity and inclusion in the classroom? 

 

  • Unwillingness to change teaching practices: What different approaches can I try that have the potential to improve the inclusivity of my classroom? 

 

  • Not wanting to take responsibility: Do I hold any assumptions about my responsibility as an instructor to foster an inclusive environment?  If so, are these assumptions valid?

 

  • Challenges with promoting inclusion in student-student interactions: How can I partner with students to co-create inclusivity guidelines that we can all abide by as members of a learning community? 

 

There is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Personal barriers need not to hinder us from building more inclusive classrooms.

 

Reference 

Addy, T.M., Reeves, P.M., Dube, D., Mitchell, K.A. (2021). What Really Matters for Instructors Implementing Equitable and Inclusive Teaching Approaches. To Improve the Academy, 40(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3998/tia.182

A Message of Encouragement to Educational Developer Colleagues: You’re an Anchor

Like a drive in an unknown territory that has multiple detours, this season of higher education has involved taking different paths for the sake of academic continuity. One group of support staff playing an important role in these efforts is educational developers. As a fellow educational developer,  I have deep gratitude and respect towards you, my colleagues who continue to provide leadership and stability in seemingly ever-changing instructional scenarios. I appreciate your continued sharing of ideas and resources and collegiality.  Your collaboration has been top-notch, and you are among the most giving people that I know. This professional culture and a love for teaching and learning is what initially drew me towards this field.

Given that teaching and learning are core components of institutional missions and activities, you will continue to make impacts that are at the heart of the institution’s core functions. You are anchors, gifting support whether or not the tides of teaching and learning change. During the pandemic, you may have found yourself moving from the sidelines to being part of the starting lineup and more integrated within the strategic efforts of your college and university. Although the tides continue to change, your anchors are strong and stable, even during the most challenging of times. Your efforts are valued.

As the tides calm down, although the storm is not yet over, reflect on the good work that you do in supporting instructors. You entered this profession for a reason. Hold onto it, and revisit it continually to stay inspired.  You are an anchor.

Three Pillars for an Empowered Return to Campus

On June 23, 2021 I delivered a keynote presentation for the RECAP Conference hosted by West Chester University. In preparing for the talk, I deliberated on what would help us reflect upon what we learned over these last few years of teaching in higher education as well as prepare our hearts and minds for what was to come. I ultimately felt compelled to discuss three pillars for preparing to teach, captured in the graphic above: (1) Reflect & Heal, (2) Apply & Extend, and (3) Readjust & Give Grace. I used the term pillar intentionally, as I saw each as a support structure. Below I share their meanings, and how to make sense of them for an empowered return to campus.

Pillar #1: Reflect and Heal

When discussing this pillar I challenged all participants to revisit their teaching philosophies and reflect upon: (1) whether they changed since the COVID-19 pandemic transformed higher education, and, if so, (2) how they have changed. I encouraged them to revise their statements as appropriate before heading into the next season of teaching. Next, I mentioned what I have heard from many instructors as a consequence of the pandemic, and have witnessed myself – an increased awareness of inequities facing students. I advised instructors to use such knowledge as a grounds for intentionally reflecting on how they could better understand their learners each time they taught a course, and to infuse equity and inclusion into the learning environment. Such resonates with some of the work of my center where we develop data-driven tools that help instructors better understand the diversity assets and strengths their students bring to their courses. I also challenged all instructors to consider their own growth during this process. This has been a time when many have tried out new teaching strategies, which has been simultaneously challenging and inspiring. I also recommended that the instructors welcome the healing process, taking time, as feasible, to recover from this challenging season before teaching again.

Pillar #2: Apply & Extend

During the presentation I further noted that there is much opportunity to apply and extend what we’ve learned. We can continue using strategies and tools that fostered student learning during the pandemic whether we teach online, or creatively deploy the same or similar strategies and tools for in-person teaching. We can use what we learned about student inequities to make meaningful changes in our courses and curricula. Concerns of student access, belonging, the impacts of trauma, disparities in prior preparation, and wellbeing are evident, and we are at a critical juncture to deliberately and continually evaluate how to provide experiences that support the success of all of our learners. We offer a number of strategies in our book, What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching.

Pillar #3: Readjust & Give Grace

Lastly, as we return to our campuses either virtually or in person during this new season, we need to be good to ourselves. First, we’ll need to give ourselves time to readjust. There may be some uncertainty and it may feel strange or unnatural at first. We also need to give grace to our learners. Practically this may look like intentionally designing courses that allow for an early period of adjustment and some degree of built in flexibility.  Let’s also extend kindness and collegiality to our colleagues as we confront these new times. Also critical, investment in burnout resistance will be important from the start, as well as reminding ourselves of the joys of what we do.

I look forward to an empowered return to campus, and how these three pillars – Reflect and Heal, Apply and Extend, and Readjust and Give Grace – can shape the next steps of higher education.

Forming Connections at the Institution: Frameworks That Can Help New Instructors Thrive

A few months ago I started reading the book Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection by Yale Professor Marissa King. Someone recommended this book to me, and to my delight I found that it contained frameworks versatile enough to apply to many aspects of life. While reading the book with my educational developer hat and considering the roles that my center plays in onboarding processes, what stood out the most to me was how the content could positively impact the success of instructors new to an institution. In general, I continue to witness how social networking is particularly important in academia given the siloing that can occur.

Here I describe how frameworks presented in the book can be particularly useful to new instructors to enhance their social connections and help them thrive. If you are a new instructor, or work with new instructors, you may find reading and sharing this blog post to be beneficial.

At the beginning of the book King describes three major types of social networks backed by years of research: expansionist, convening, and brokering. Expansionists have more connections than the average person, many of whom do not know one another. Expansionists are often generous with their time and energy and very likable. Conveners typically have networks composed of people they’ve known for some time who also know one another. They generally have a trusted group of individuals within their networks.  Brokers bridge between different networks which can lead to more diversity and innovation in their connections. They can effectively tailor their messages to different people.

Each of these network types can also experience challenges, whether it is loneliness and burnout for expansionists, network homogeneity for conveners, or challenges with integrating networks for brokers, among others. No network type is better than another, and King challenges readers to think of each as serving different purposes and reaching different outcomes. Additionally, having a mixture of network types or switching between network types may be useful at different junctures depending on the context.

So, how can instructors new to an institution use this information to advance their careers? At the beginning of their time at the institution, new instructors may benefit from having an expansionist network, and actively seek connections with a variety of individuals at the institution. Once new instructors develop a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the institution and start to form meaningful connections, they may consider adopting a brokering network to connect with those who can help provide specific support to help them advance in their careers. King describes how brokering networks, however, may not always be optimal on the long-term depending on various factors. In this regard, later in their careers such instructors may benefit further by developing a network of networks that combines their various social connections in a more extensive manner.

Another noteworthy application to new instructors described in the book and based on work by Cross and Thomas (2011), are six necessary partners that top-ranked managers were found to have in their inner circles (p. 185). Below are the characteristics of such partners, with specific applications to who could fulfill these roles for new instructors. Of note is that these individuals may serve within multiple areas, and thus have overlapping contributions. In the examples listed below, I also extend what is described in the book to individuals potentially beyond a new faculty member’s core network of 12 to 18 contacts. I recommend that all new instructors go through an exercise where they identify the specific names of such individuals within each of the groups below in their first year while they are at the institution, and that other groups responsible for instructor onboarding support this process. Such connections are likely to evolve over the course of an instructor’s career.

Access to Information

  • Department heads, program chairs, and administrative assistants
  • Various offices and departments on campus (e.g. centers for teaching and learning, advising offices, learning support offices, registrar’s office, human resources, informational technology, libraries, Provost’s office)
  • Mentors, both formal and informal
  • Other colleagues within or outside of the department

Formal Power

  • Provosts
  • Academic deans
  • Department heads and program chairs
  • Program directors

Developmental Feedback

  • Centers for teaching and learning and instructional designers
  • Department heads and program chairs
  • Trusted colleagues
  • Mentors, both formal and informal

Personal Support

  • Trusted colleagues within or outside of the institution
  • Mentors, both formal and informal
  • Family
  • Friends

Sense of Purpose

  • Trusted colleagues within or outside of the institution
  • Mentors, both formal and informal
  • Family
  • Friends

Help with Work/Life Balance

  • Trusted colleagues within or outside of the institution
  • Mentors, both formal and informal
  • Family
  • Friends

If you are a new instructor, consider how social networking through the lens of Social Chemistry can support your success at your institution. Take time to intentionally identify your network type and how the connections that you form can advance your career and wellbeing. If your role at your institution is to partner with new instructors, feel free to share this post with them and consider how you can support them as they network, whether by giving informal or formal advice, or through initiatives such as new faculty orientation, mentorship groups, and learning communities.

References

King, Marissa. 2021. Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection. New York: Penguin Random House LLC.

Cross, Rob and Thomas, Robert. July – August 2011. Managing Yourself: A Smarter Way to Network. Harvard Business Review.  https://hbr.org/2011/07/managing-yourself-a-smarter-way-to-network

Ways to Advance Inclusive Teaching Efforts on Your Campus

Perhaps many can relate to the challenges of not knowing where to start with inclusive teaching. Let’s consider the research. In our study of the barriers that instructors face with regards to implementing inclusive teaching approaches (Addy et al., in press), several themes emerged, including, among others: (1) not having enough knowledge of inclusive teaching approaches and (2) having limited or no opportunity to discuss inclusive teaching strategies with colleagues. The first theme suggests that a focus on the actual practices of inclusive teaching may be of benefit to instructors seeking to be more inclusive in their teaching, and underlies a primary motivation behind why my coauthors and I engaged in writing the book What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching (Addy et al., 2021). The second theme identified suggests that having more spaces to engage in dialogue related to inclusive teaching can support instructional efforts.

In this blog post I share various initiatives that have the potential to mitigate these barriers that I hope are useful to you and your colleagues. These models are based on: my observations of what others in higher education are doing to support inclusive teaching efforts on their campuses, initiatives that I have coordinated, as well as promising programming based on other effective models.

Informal Strategy Sharing

Primary Goal: To share inclusive teaching strategies

Department and program heads/chairs can set aside time during regular meetings for their instructors to share any inclusive teaching strategies that they are using in their individual courses or across multi-section courses. Additional discussions may also involve the department or program developing their own statement of inclusion highlighting their values and commitments, as well as brainstorming avenues for measuring the impact of their teaching efforts.

Informal strategy sharing sessions can also be coordinated by educational developers at the institution such as through centers for teaching and learning.

Newsletter Showcases

Primary Goal: To increase the visibility of inclusive teaching efforts across campus 

Centers for teaching and learning or communications departments can send email blasts to the campus community highlighting the inclusive teaching approaches implemented by instructors across various departments.

Video Shares

Primary Goal: To provide instructors with opportunities to learn how their colleagues are implementing inclusive teaching approaches 

Instructors can be asked to describe their inclusive teaching approaches for brief recordings (e.g. 2-5 minutes) that can be shared with the campus community.

 

Community or Small Group Readings and Discussions

Primary Goals: To foster discussion and reflection around inclusive teaching

As noted in the previously described study (Addy et al., in press), building awareness of learner diversity and inclusive teaching practices, as well as having more opportunities to discuss inclusive teaching efforts were viewed by instructors as initiatives that could advance their teaching efforts. In order to facilitate such discussions, departments and programs, centers for teaching and learning, multi-institution consortia, as well as small groups of instructors, and others can organize community readings or small group discussions around the principles and practices described in What Inclusive Instructors Do. Here are a few examples:

  • Holding weekly 1-hr community read discussion sessions for one to two months during the summer or winter interim, or less frequently over several months during the academic year, to discuss and apply principles and practices from the book. For a four-session community reading, the book can naturally be divided into Chapters 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, Concluding Remarks & Epilogue. Prior to each session, participants can read the respective sections of the book and reflect on guiding questions sent to them ahead of the session. Coordinators can choose 2-3 questions from each chapter for participants to discuss in small groups (in the event of a large number of participants) and report highlights from their discussions back to the whole group. Alternatively, groups can decide which questions they would most like to discuss (e.g. via polling). Group members can choose and assume designated roles (e.g. facilitator, timekeeper, note taker, etc.), and sessions can be held either virtually or in person.
  • Asynchronous online discussions are also possible to encourage discussion and reflection on the reading.
  • Instructors can also pair with a few colleagues to form their own small groups to discuss the content of the book. During these sessions they can reflect on their own inclusive teaching efforts, discuss strategies and plans for implementation, and possibly form teaching triangles or squares with group members to observe one another’s classes (see below).
Inclusive Course Design Institute

Primary Goal: To design more inclusive courses

A multi-day (e.g. 3-day) course design institute focused on designing a more inclusive course. Participants can read What Inclusive Instructors Do and focus most heavily on Chapters 3 to 5 of the book during the institute which explore inclusive course design, how to foster a welcoming environment, as well as general inclusive teaching approaches and strategies. Participants can bring a course syllabus at any stage of development to the institute and revise it as they apply the principles and practices from the book. Discussion questions from each chapter can guide small group conversations and individual reflection.

Classroom Observations Focused on Inclusive Teaching

Primary Goals: To observe and reflect on inclusive teaching approaches

Arguably, there is nothing like seeing inclusive instruction in action. After reading What Inclusive Instructors Do, groups of instructors can form teaching triangles or squares (Haave, 2018). They can set goals to integrate various inclusive teaching practices into their courses and observe one another in action in the classroom. During their observations they can focus on reflecting on their own inclusive teaching practices. Various models for Teaching Squares programs exist, and the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary offers a helpful guide.

Inclusive Teaching Instructor Academy

Primary Goals: To implement inclusive teaching practices and obtain feedback through an immersive experience

An intensive 1-semester academy or fellowship to which a cohort of instructors apply. Instructors develop semester-long goals for inclusive teaching, implement such practices in their course(s), meet with their cohort for progress updates and discussion of literature on recommended practices, and if feasible, obtain classroom observation or other feedback from student pedagogical partners. Cook-Sather et al. (2019) published a helpful guide for starting a student pedagogical partnership program. Instructors participating in the academy or fellowship program could also potentially form a teaching square and observe one another. Participants can read What Inclusive Instructors Do while formulating inclusive teaching goals prior to the academy.

Inclusive Teaching Fellowship Program

Primary Goals: To provide instructors with opportunities for individual growth related to inclusive teaching as well as to share new knowledge and skills with the campus community at large

Instructors can apply to participate in a year-long fellowship program and focus on a particular area or areas within inclusive instruction, implement such practices in their courses, and lead relevant sessions for other instructors at the institution. Fellowship programs may also involve instructors taking part in other symposia and conferences and disseminating their work through scholarly venues.

 

These are some of the ways that you can bring inclusive instruction to your campus. Please feel free to reach out to me with other initiatives that can be added based on your own work or those of colleagues. I am more than happy to expand this list.

References

Addy, T.M., Reeves, P.M., Dube, D., Mitchell, KA. (in press). What Really Matters for Instructors Implementing Equitable and Inclusive Teaching Approaches. To Improve the Academy.

Addy, T.M., Dube, D., SoRelle, M., Mitchell, K.A. (2021). What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching. Stylus Publishing. https://styluspub.presswarehouse.com/browse/book/9781642671933/What-Inclusive-Instructors-Do

Cook-Sather, A., Bahti, M., Ntem, A. (2019). Pedagogical Partnerships: Guide for Faculty, Students, and Academic Developers in Higher Education. https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/books/pedagogical-partnerships/

Haave, N. (June 31, 2018). Teaching Squares Bring Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/faculty-development/teaching-squares-cross-disciplinary-perspectives/

A New Journey

There are moments in time where I have an incredible urge to write to communicate a particular thought or idea that is brewing in my mind about teaching and learning. Writing it out often encourages me to form my flowing thoughts into a logical story, and also provide a sense of closure, hence, the birth of this new blog! On this blog I will share my informal reflections, discoveries, and findings that a wider audience within higher education may appreciate and gain benefits. I welcome you to join me on this journey.