Culturally Responsive Curriculum Plan

During the spring of 2021, I worked with Clark College’s Adam Coleman and Virginia Kyle on developing a plan to infuse culturally responsive equity-focused teaching and learning practices into our computer technology curriculum.

Below is a list of the courses and the things we will be doing as a result of our work.

Course(s) to be revised:

  • Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving (CTEC 121)
  • IT Support (CTEC 104)
  • Introduction to Managed Information Systems (MIS) (CTEC 205)

For each course identified above, describe eight or more specific course content, course activity, and/or course work revisions that reflect culturally responsive teaching principles.

1) Provide Teacher-Narrated Video Feedback for Assignments

  • Using captions and subtitles with video feedback has been proven to be effective in helping students access and process information. This is especially important when considering diverse student populations, including non-native English speakers and those with special needs. The facial expressions and tone of voice go a long way to adding to the meaning of what you are hoping to get across. A student we know of has neuro-issues, and often plays the videos back several times, stating that this is a very effective means of feedback for her. Another example is students who are dyslexic and are constantly on reading overload. This modality gives them a break.
  • Students who are more attuned to aural and visual learning styles, rather than to reading and writing, can more easily process video feedback than the rather one-dimensional presentation of the written word. The video eliminates the risk of misunderstanding based on this cultural barrier and provides a break from the majority of courses that depend heavily on the written word.
  • Teacher presence in the online environment is essential to building a community of inquiry and a sense of connection with the instructor. This is culturally relevant because that connection to the instructor comes into play when the student runs into barriers or difficulties embedded in a cultural issue. They are more likely to reach out to us for guidance if they have that sense of connection person-to-person.

2) Design TILTed Assignments – Transparency In Learning and Teaching

Our intention is to be very clear and transparent about how assignments are relevant to students in their daily lives and experiences, creating assignments and activities with this component wherever applicable. We will encourage students to bring any issues to the instructor so a conversation can be arranged. 

Examples include:

  • In CTEC 121- Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving over a dozen assignments have been TILTed.
  • In the CTEC 104 – IT Customer Service course, we will investigate how different customers (generations) communicate with respect to technology; text, phones, emails, twitter etc. 
  • In the CTEC 205  – Introduction to Managed Information Systems there will be multiple assignments dealing with collaboration that build on each other. This includes setting up teams, creating a Team charter, and working together to create policies and procedures. 

3) Variable Assignment Formats to meet Individual Learning Styles when possible/reasonable

At the onset of the course, provide links to research-based learning styles assessments that offer study and learning strategies based on styles. We will offer learners alternative assignment options that are grounded in their individual learning style(s). An example of this would be a video or audio journal submission as opposed to written.

4) Use of Pronouns

We will ask instructors and students to state their pronouns in course introductions, Zoom, and other venues. We also will include them in the course Syllabus and email signatures.

5) Email Signatures to set at one of welcoming diversity and embracing cultural differences

We will revise email signatures to include quotes about diversity and inclusion to help set a welcoming environment in the early stages of the course.

6) Disabilities and Student Course Introductions

Not all disabilities are disclosed to DSS (Disability Support Services). We realize that all challenges to learning, such as PTSD, anxiety, even autism, are not always documented. We will be direct in asking students to let us know if there are adjustments or additions that we the instructors should be aware of so that we can work together with the learner to provide an optimal learning experience with the most equitable playing field possible.

7) Meeting Students Where They Live: Use an Implicit Bias Test – Harvard Test

Have students take an implicit bias test that allows students to choose from racism, gender, sexual orientation, ageism, ableism, etc. to gauge what biases they may be bringing to an interaction with a customer who needs help with a technical issue. After the test, have discussions about it and the results students each received. Do they think the test results are valid? If not, why? Why is it important to be aware of the biases we unconsciously bring to an interaction? Then shape the discussion as it relates to the topic(s)/industry the course is covering and see how implicit bias is part of it. Not only is this best practice for the course material, it also helps to set a tone of openness and awareness of differences, including an acknowledgment from the instructors that they, too, bring an unconscious bias to their work and are open to discussion and value the concept.

8) Module Exit Slip Surveys

Offer learners a chance to reflect on the coursework in the module every week, inviting comments and suggestions to address possible barriers, such as socio-economic or health.

9) Communicating Across Cultures Film

Have students watch the video “Communicating Across Cultures” film, and then have one or more class discussions about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbIqOaFr5Rg, guiding the discussion to areas relevant to the coursework, For example, we can create some customer service scenarios that present a conflict or challenge based on a cultural barrier then follow with a role-play activity in which students can have a positive experience with skill-building in real-time. We also could brainstorm ways in which technology could assist (or does already) in  lessening or eliminating the barriers. Students can also add to the information from the film, suggesting communication issue scenarios based on their own observations or lived experiences regarding marginalized groups and identities. 

10) Wiki Page(s): Workshops, Events, and Opportunities

Create an ongoing Wiki page of workshops, events, and opportunities around campus that support student diversity, including student panels, speakers, scholarships, celebrations, etc. Students will be invited to contribute to the Wiki page. An example of this would be the panel in May at Clark regarding supporting trans individuals who are Pacific Islanders. These events are promoted each week to faculty in emails and announcements and can be easily copied and pasted into the weekly updated Wiki page. 

Author: Bruce Elgort

You’ll find this technology professor – an award-winning instructor at Clark College – working hard to inspire and challenge his students with meaningful web development and programming experiences. With a skinny vanilla latte (no foam) in hand, Bruce loves to tinker and test the boundaries of existing and emerging technologies, to then guide hungry minds through memorable, educational journeys to showcase with passion the ever-evolving innovations of society. An industry leader, Bruce is known for co-developing Elguji’s IdeaJam software, and is recognized by IBM as an ‘IBM Champion’ for being an innovative thought leader in cloud technologies.

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