Education Diversity Assignments

Diversity & Inclusive Teaching (Archived)


Both students and faculty at American colleges and universities are becoming increasingly varied in their backgrounds and experiences, reflecting the diversity witnessed in our broader society. The Center for Teaching is committed to supporting diversity at Vanderbilt, particularly as it intersects with the wide range of teaching and learning contexts that occur across the University.

The following tips are taken from Barbara Gross Davis’ chapter entitled “Diversity and Complexity in the Classroom: Considerations of Race, Ethnicity and Gender” in her excellent book, Tools for Teaching. We recommend that you read her full text to learn more about the issues and ideas listed below in this broad overview.

Davis writes: “There are no universal solutions or specific rules for responding to ethnic, gender, and cultural diversity in the classroom…. Perhaps the overriding principle is to be thoughtful and sensitive….” She recommends that you, the teacher:

  • Recognize any biases or stereotypes you may have absorbed.
  • Treat each student as an individual, and respect each student for who he or she is.
  • Rectify any language patterns or case examples that exclude or demean any groups.
  • Do your best to be sensitive to terminology that refers to specific ethnic and cultural groups as it changes.
  • Get a sense of how students feel about the cultural climate in your classroom. Tell them that you want to hear from them if any aspect of the course is making them uncomfortable.
  • Introduce discussions of diversity at department meetings.
  • Become more informed about the history and culture of groups other than your own.
  • Convey the same level of respect and confidence in the abilities of all your students.
  • Don’t try to “protect” any group of students. Don’t refrain from criticizing the performance of individual students in your class on account of their ethnicity or gender. And be evenhanded in how you acknowledge students’ good work.
  • Whenever possible, select texts and readings whose language is gender-neutral and free of stereotypes, or cite the shortcomings of material that does not meet these criteria.
  • Aim for an inclusive curriculum that reflects the perspectives and experiences of a pluralistic society.
  • Do not assume that all students will recognize cultural, literary or historical references familiar to you.
  • Bring in guest lecturers to foster diversity in your class.
  • Give assignments and exams that recognize students’ diverse backgrounds and special interests.

Resources to help you achieve an inclusive classroom that fosters diversity are provided below.

Inclusive Teaching Strategies

When instructors attempt to create safe, inclusive classrooms, they should consider multiple factors, including the syllabus, course content, class preparation, their own classroom behavior, and their knowledge of students’ backgrounds and skills. The resources in this section offer concrete strategies to address these factors and improve the learning climate for all students.

  • Creating Inclusive College Classrooms: An article from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan which addresses five aspects of teaching that influence the inclusivity of a classroom: 1) the course content, 2) the teacher’s assumptions and awareness of multicultural issues in classroom situations, 3) the planning of course sessions, 4) the teacher’s knowledge of students’ backgrounds, and 5) the teacher’s choices, comments and behaviors while teaching.
  • Teaching for Inclusion: Diversity in the College Classroom: Written and designed by the staff of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC, Chapel Hill,this book offers a range of strategies, including quotes from students representing a range of minority groups.
  • Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom, from the Derek Bok Center at Harvard University, describes how to turn difficult discussions into learning opportunities.

The Faculty Teaching Excellence Program (FTEP) at the University of Colorado has compiled a series of faculty essays on diversity in On Diversity in Teaching and Learning: A Compendium. This publication is available for download (as a PDF file) from the FTEP website (scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the download links). The essays in this volume include, among others:

  • Fostering Diversity in the Classroom: Teaching by Discussion: Ron Billingsley (English) offers 14 practical suggestions for teaching discussion courses (with 15-20 students) and creating an atmosphere in the classroom that embraces diversity.
  • Fostering Diversity in a Medium-Sized Classroom:
    Brenda Allen (Communications) outlines seven ways to create an interactive environment in larger classes (with 80-100 students) and thus promote diversity in the classroom.
  • Developing and Teaching an Inclusive Curriculum:
    Deborah Flick (Women Studies) uses the scholarship of Peggy McIntosh and Patricia Hill Collins to support a useful syllabus checklist and teaching tips that include techniques to provoke discussion about privilege and stereotypes among students.
  • The Influence of Attitudes, Feelings and Behavior Toward Diversity on Teaching and Learning: Lerita Coleman (Psychology) encourages instructors to examine their own identity development and self-concept to determine how they feel diversity and bias affect their teaching. She also shares 14 specific teaching tips.

Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

Gender Issues

Sexual Orientation


  • Teaching Students with Disabilities: From a brochure entitled “College Students with Learning Disabilities,” developed by Vanderbilt’s Opportunity Development Center, and from the ODC staff.

Annotated Bibliographies

Both of these bibliographies are hosted by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching , University of Michigan:

  • Promoting Diversity in College Classrooms: Edited by Maurianne Adams (New Directions in Teaching and Learning, 1992, vol. 52), this bibliography lists articles that encourage instructors to become conscious of their own identity development and bias to improve their teacher-student interactions in the classroom. Several lessons learned are shared, as well as curricular solutions.
  • Teaching for Diversity: Edited by Laura Border and Nancy Chism (New Directions in Teaching and Learning, 1992, vol. 49), this bibliography lists articles on topics ranging from the implications of diverse learning styles for instructional design to an ethnographic approach to the feminist classroom.

Related Vanderbilt Programs and Centers

Faculty and TAs exploring issues in diversity in teaching and learning may be interested in the following programs, initiatives and centers at Vanderbilt. They range from service units offering direct assistance to those who are teaching at Vanderbilt, to research and outreach projects that present more indirect links to-but with important implications for–the Vanderbilt classroom.

University Programs and Centers

  • Antoinette Brown Lectures – Vanderbilt University Divinity School
    Established in 1974, this lectureship brings distinguished women theologians and church leaders to the Divinity School to speak on a variety of concerns for women in ministry.
  • Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
    This center, dedicated in 1984, provides educational and cultural programming on the Black experience for the University and Nashville communities, and serves as a support resource for African-descended students. The center’s programs are open to the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities.
  • Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality
    Established in 1995, this program fosters conversation about religion, gender, and sexuality by providing education and encouraging communication within and across religious affiliations, ideological bases, and cultural contexts. The program facilitates courses of study, workshops, lectures, and provides consultation and information services. Their website includes news items on gender, religion, and sexuality, as well as a list of syllabi, papers and student projects.
  • The Office for Diversity Affairs
    This office administers an active recruitment program that involves visits by students and staff to other campuses; encourages contacts between applicants and matriculating students; and arranges visits to the Vanderbilt campus for newly accepted under- represented minority applicants. This site also links to related programs fostering diversity at the School of Medicine, such as the Vanderbilt Bridges Program and theMeharry – Vanderbilt Alliance .
  • The LGBTQI Resoure Office
    provides information about a variety of organizations that serve the needs of gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff.
  • Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center
    Providing activities on women, gender equity, and feminism through lectures, This center sponsors campus workshops and special events. These programs are open to students, faculty and staff, as well as interested members of the local community. The center’s 2000-volume library houses the only collection on campus devoted to gender and feminism, and is available for reference, research and general reading.
  • Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department
    This center, established in 1977, is Vanderbilt University’s equal opportunity, affirmative action, and disability services office. The center’s mission is to take a proactive stance in assisting the University with the interpretation, understanding, and application of federal and state laws and regulations which impose special obligations in the areas of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
  • Project Dialogue
    Project Dialogue is a year-long, University-wide program to involve the entire Vanderbilt community in public debate and discussion, and to connect classroom learning with larger societal issues. Project Dialogue has been run every other year since 1989, each year centering on a particular theme. Recent speakers have included Naomi Wolf, Cornel West, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Oliver Sacks, and Barbara Ehrenreich.
  • Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
    The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities promotes interdisciplinary research and study in the humanities and social sciences, and, when appropriate, the natural sciences. The center’s programs are designed to intensify and increase interdisciplinary discussion of academic, social, and cultural issues. Recent and upcoming fellows program themes include: “Memory, Identity, and Political Action,” “Constructions, Deconstructions, and Destructions in Nature,” and “Gender, Sexuality, and Cultural Politics.” Lectures, conferences, and special programs include: Race and Wealth Disparity in 21st Century America, a Gender and Sexuality Lecture Series, Rethinking the Americas: Crossing Borders and Disciplines, Diversity in Learning/ Learning and Diversity, Feminist Dialogues, and the Social Construction of the Body.
  • The Office of the University Chaplain
    This office offers programs to students to help them understand their own faith and the faith of others, clarify their values, and develop a sense of social responsibility. The office also provides leadership for Project Dialogue, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Series and the Holocaust Lecture Series.

International Services and Programs

  • English Language Center
    This center is a teaching institute offering noncredit English language courses for speakers of other languages. The center provides English instruction to learners at all levels of proficiency to enable them to achieve their academic, professional, and social goals.
  • International Student and Scholar Services
    This office offers programs and services to assist international students and scholars across the university.

Student Offices and Programs

Outreach Programs

  • Girls and Science Camp
    This camp was established at Vanderbilt University in the summer of 1999 in response to the gender differences in science achievement found in high school. Its goals are to engage girls in science activities, to foster confidence in science achievement, and to encourage girls’ enrollment in high school science courses.

Additional Web Resources

  • Diversity Web
    The Association of American Colleges and Universities and the University of Maryland at College Park have designed DiversityWeb to connect, amplify and multiply campus diversity efforts through a central location on the Web. DiversityWeb is part of a larger communications initiative entitled Diversity Works-a family of projects providing resources to colleges and universities to support diversity as a crucial educational priority. Supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, this initiative is designed to create new pathways for diversity collaboration and connection, via the World Wide Web and more traditional forms of print communication.
  • Multicultural Pavilion
    The Multicultural Pavilion strives to provide resources for educators, students, and activists to explore and discuss multicultural education; facilitate opportunities for educators to work toward self-awareness and development; and provide forums for educators to interact and collaborate toward a critical, transformative approach to multicultural education. The Pavilion was created in 1995 at the University of Virginia.
  • Teaching for Diversity and Inclusiveness in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM): Angela Linse, Temple University; Wayne Jacobson, University of Washington; & Lois Reddick, New York University, propose in this essay that STEM instructors use a model adapted from research on problem solving to explore the lack of diversity in the STEM student population. As expert problem solvers, STEM instructors are well-prepared to begin addressing this issue in their own courses and programs.

Articles from CFT Newsletter:

  • Teaching from the Outside In: An article summarizing interviews of Vanderbilt faculty asked to reflect on their experience of teaching from “the outside in.”
  • An International Perspective: An interview of Nikolaos Galatos, a Vanderbilt graduate student from Greece who won last year’s B. F. Bryant Prize for Excellence in Teaching for outstanding teaching by a mathematics graduate student.
  • From the Student’s View: Difference: An article summarizing interviews of several Vanderbilt undergraduate students asked to reflect on their experience as students in a course or two in which the instructor was in some significant way different from most of the students in the class.

 (English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Foreign Language, and Science)

Below are the required assignments for all secondary teaching experience – English, social studies, mathematics, foreign language, and science (biology, chemistry, physics). The order and due dates for each assignment. These days and times may vary per agreement with the university supervisor and the teacher candidate.


Secondary Education 6-12 Assignments

Secondary Education 6-12 Due Dates

Weekly Teaching LogsPer University Supervisor
Behavior Management PlanFriday, Week 3
Video CommentaryFriday, Week 5
Secondary Teacher Lesson Observation #1Friday, Week 8 (on/before)
University Supervisor Observation #1Friday, Week 8 (on/before)
Dispositional Audit #1Friday, Week 8 (on/before)
Unit Plan #1Friday, Week 8 (on/before)

Midterm Assessment

Secondary Teacher Lesson Observation #2Friday, Week 12(on/before)
University Supervisor Observation #2Friday, Week 12 (on/before)
Dispositional AuditFriday, Week 14 (on/before)
Unit Plan #2Friday, Week 14 (on/before)

Secondary Education 6-12 Assignments

The description of the assignments to be handed in during the 16-week SECONDARY experience are described below. Note:The Sequenced Unit Plan Rubric may vary, depending on your content area.

Weekly Teaching Logs

Keep a weekly teaching log, which you will email to your university supervisor. These logs are meant to provide ongoing communication between you and your university supervisor. During the first few days of your student teaching experience, the writing may include observations of student behaviors, your planning process, teaching effectiveness, and future changes. When you begin teaching your lessons, your log needs to focus on your teaching and student learning. The teaching log is a reflective writing assignment. It is an opportunity to share experiences and reflect on what you learned from them.

Behavior Management Plan                                                                                

Find information regarding your specific community of   learners:

  • A code of conduct/handbook from your school site or
  • Briefly describe your school and the community that it Use demographic data  to support your description. Site your resources properly. Describe what classroom management strategies are currently being utilized and how   you might adjust these strategies to fit your teachingstyle.
  • How will you adjust your instruction, curriculum, and behavioral management strategies to meet the individual needs of all students in your class? Discuss students with special needs and how you will use resources such as school personnel or specific supplemental materials to meet the needs of all Your paper should include references to students with special needs who have been identified or have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Give specific examples of accommodations and modifications that could be implemented.
  • Describe how you will provide students with opportunities to understand and appreciate diverse cultures, various ability ranges, and differing perspectives of their
  • Describe the strategies and the specific materials that you would use to maintain an equitable learning environment for diverse populations where students accept and appreciate their own similarities and differences in relation to
  • Discuss how you will involve parents in the learning Explain how you will collaborate with other professionals in your building and include ideas of how you will involve community stakeholders.

This evaluation will use the rubric found in Task Stream for EDCI 497 (Secondary).

Live Lesson Observations

Your cooperating teacher and university supervisor will informally and formally observe your teaching. Two of the observations (one for supervisor and one for coop) will be formal observations which will be assessed using the lesson observation  rubric. You will submit your lesson plan to TaskStream prior to your observation. In addition, please submit a reflection (after teaching the lesson) within 72 hours of the observation.

The assessment for the Live Lesson Observation must include the following information:

  • A lesson plans that demonstrate a knowledge of the academic standards and a variety of instructional methods and strategies.
  • The implementation of the methods or strategies appropriate for your grade level, as described in your lesson plan.
  • Examples of assessment opportunities for students through the creation of an original assessment rubric designed to measure student comprehension of the lesson.
  • A demonstration of classroom management strategies, showing how well you keep students on task and actively engage them in the lesson.
  • A means of showing how students make connections to prior knowledge and integrate content from other subject areas into your lesson plans.
  • A clear demonstration of accurate content knowledge beyond the prescribed lesson.
  • An ability to make decisions, anticipate and solve problems before they arise.
  • The capacity to reflect on possible lesson revisions using assessment data, student observations, and personal reflections to better meet the needs of the students.

This evaluation will use the rubric found in TaskStream for EDCI 497 (Secondary).

Video Commentary                                                                                                                                   

Videotape yourself presenting a lesson and complete a critique of your teaching. After viewing the video, complete a critique of your teaching. Reflect on the following questions to write your commentary:

  • What various teaching strategies did you implement? Were they successful?
  • How did you assess your students’ level of understanding? Discuss the assessment strategies and instruments How well did they measure student learning?
  • Comment on your classroom management strategies as illustrated in the How did the strategies promote an environment that encourages purposeful learning? Did you observe a need for the use of other management strategies?
  • How did you assist students to connect prior knowledge with new learning experiences? Comment of the evidence from the How did you integrate other subject areas?
  • Was your content knowledge accurate? What additional knowledge might improve the lesson?
  • What types of decisions did you need to make during the lesson? Why did you make those decisions? Are there other alternatives if the situation arose again?
  • Comment on your presentation of standard spoken Did you make any grammatical errors while speaking?
  • Comment on audience awareness with evidence from the Were there inconsistencies with eye contact, voice projection, or proximity? Did you provide clear and consistent feedback to the students’ when evaluating their work and or comments?

Submit your reflection and formal lesson plan for the lesson you videotaped via TaskStream under the column “Video Commentary”.  You have three options for providing your university supervisor a copy of your video: upload to TaskStream, upload to YouTube (privately) or thumb drive. Your written reflection will be evaluated on the quality of the writing as outlined in the rubrics. As always, your writing should be organized and coherent. Make sure you support your points with  evidence.

This evaluation will use the rubric found in TaskStream for EDCI 497 (Secondary).

Dispositional Audits

The university supervisor and the cooperating teacher will jointly evaluate dispositional behavior twice during the 16-week semester.

This evaluation will use the rubric found in TaskStream for EDCI 497 (Secondary).

Sequenced Unit Plan                                                                                                            

You will develop an integrated set of sequenced lesson plans. You will teach your unit and analyze student performance. The set consists of five developmentally sequenced lessons focusing on a concept or theme in a your content area. If you are teaching on a block schedule, you will develop a week’s worth of lessons. Lessons must reflect a variety of instructional methods and teaching/learning strategies appropriate for the grade level.

Impact on Student Learning

In addition, collect and upload sample work from two students you have instructed with these sequenced lessons. You will remove the student names from the work and label the pieces Student A and Student B. Work samples should include daily work samples evaluated using formative or summative assessments. Analyze student learning using a visual description (e.g. table or graph) of individual student performance demonstrating the “impact of student learning” that occurred as the result of your instruction. Include a one page reflection explaining what went well, or not so well, in the instruction of the lessons. Explain what growth and development occurred, if any, as the result of your lesson planning. Discuss adaptations or accommodations used to enhance the instruction of students with special needs in the class.

Lessons and Reflections

For each lesson, write a one-page reflection discussing the following:

  • What went well with the lesson – some part that you would definitely do again?
  • Why did it go well? Please provide specific examples from the lesson.
  • What didn’t go well with the lesson – some part that you definitely wouldn’t do again? Why didn’t it go well? Please provide specific examples from the lesson.
  • What did you learn today that will help you the next time you are in the classroom? Please provide specific examples from the lesson.
  • What did the students learn today? Please provide examples of the formative and/or summative assessment used during the lesson.
  • How do you know they learned the material? Provide both Quantitative evidence (numbers or percentages from an assessment tool) and Qualitative evidence (direct quote from students, either heard during discussion or written in notebooks).
  • How many of your students met your lesson objective? Did any particular student(s) struggle? In what ways?
  • Discuss how you adapted your lesson to benefit all students. Give specific examples of students with special needs and how you met those needs.

This evaluation will use the rubric found in TaskStream for EDCI 497 (Secondary).

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