In March 2023, educators Kelly A. Hogan and Viji Sathy wrote a piece for the Chronicle titled “How Can ‘Inclusion’ Be a Bad Word?” At the time, they both worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and they had been asked by North Carolina state lawmakers to provide data about DEI programming at their institution. In their op-ed, they wrote:
“How does it feel to have your work in this kind of political spotlight? Frustrating. In large part because of the disconnect between how these topics are discussed on social media and on the news versus what we know to be true about them based on evidence, research, and practice.”
I reached out to Viji and Kelly to ask them about that disconnect and about how they communicate with a variety of audiences, including with their own students and with faculty colleagues, about inclusive teaching. Kelly Hogan is a professor of the practice of biology at Duke University, having recently moved there from UNC-Chapel Hill, and Viji Sathy is the associate dean for evaluation and assessment at the Office of Undergraduate Education at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as professor of psychology and neuroscience. The two are authors of the 2022 book Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom and speak frequently at colleges and universities about inclusive teaching and student success.
The three of us had a wide-ranging conversation about inclusive teaching and what it looks like in practice in higher education. I hope you’ll listen to it and share it with friends and colleagues who are interested in a practical understanding of this work.
“How Can ‘Inclusion’ Be a Bad Word?” by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy, https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-can-inclusion-be-a-bad-word
Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy, West Virginia University Press, https://wvupressonline.com/inclusive-teaching
Viji Sathy’s website, https://sites.google.com/view/vijisathy
Kelly Hogan’s faculty page, https://scholars.duke.edu/person/kelly.hogan
inclusifiED, Kelly and Viji’s joint website, https://sites.google.com/view/inclusified
DEI Legislation Tracker, Chronicle of Higher Education, https://www.chronicle.com/article/here-are-the-states-where-lawmakers-are-seeking-to-ban-colleges-dei-efforts
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Derek Bruff 0:06
Welcome to Intentional Teaching, a podcast aimed at educators to help them develop foundational teaching skills and explore new ideas and teaching. I'm your host, Derek Bruff. I hope this podcast helps you be more intentional in how you teach and in how you develop as a teacher over time.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, there have been 40 bills introduced in 22 state legislatures since 2022 that would limit the ability of colleges and universities in those states to pursue diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in some fashion. Some of these bills would prohibit institutions from having DEI offices or staff, some would ban mandatory diversity training, and some would eliminate the use of diversity statements in hiring and promotion. According to the Chronicle, just seven of these bills have become law, but they are all part of a larger conversation about DEI in higher education, a conversation that has become intensely political in recent years.
In March of 2023, educators Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy wrote a piece for the Chronicle titled "How Can 'Inclusion' Be a Bad Word?" At the time, they both worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and they had been asked by North Carolina state lawmakers to provide data about DEI programming at their institution. In their op ed, they wrote:
"How does it feel to have your work in this kind of political spotlight? Frustrating. In large part because of the disconnect between how these topics are discussed on social media and on the news versus what we know to be true about them based on evidence, research and practice."
I reached out to Viji and Kelly to ask them about that disconnect and about how they communicate with a variety of audiences, including their own students and with faculty colleagues, about inclusive teaching. Kelly Hogan is a professor of the practice of biology at Duke University, having recently moved there from UNC Chapel Hill. And Viji Sathy is the associate dean for evaluation and assessment at the Office of Undergraduate Education at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a professor of psychology and neuroscience. The two are authors of the 2022 book "Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom," and they speak frequently at colleges and universities about inclusive teaching and student success.
The three of us had a wide ranging conversation about inclusive teaching and what it actually looks like in practice in higher ed. I hope you'll listen to it and I hope you'll share it with friends and colleagues who are interested in a practical understanding of this work.
Hi there, Viji and Kelly. Thank you for being on the podcast today and for sharing some of your experiences and your expertise throughout teaching. I'm really glad to have both of you here today to talk about this.
Viji Sathy 2:54
Thank you for asking.
Derek Bruff 2:56
Absolutely. Before we jump into that topic, I'd like to ask a question that I'd like to start my conversations with you. Tell us about a time when you realized you wanted to be an educator.
Viji Sathy 3:08
I guess I would say for me, it was during grad school when I was assigned to to the course that I often teach now. It was really just a great moment for me to realize how much I enjoyed helping
people understand material.
I think I probably had a lot of little moments leading up to it, but I distinctly remember one moment. I was a postdoc. I was doing research in developmental biology. I had set up an experiment that took nine days and it was time to figure out the results. I had to get up out of my chair while I was doing PowerPoint planning and getting ready for a summer course, and I had no desire to stop getting ready for teaching to go find out the results. I was like, I think this is telling me something.
Derek Bruff 3:57
Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you both. Let's start by defining some terms here. How do you use the terms diversity, inclusion and equity?
Viji Sathy 4:09
Well, I'll start with diversity. I would say that, you know, I think commonly people think about pretty visible attributes when they think about diversity, like gender, potentially, race. Right. Like all kinds of things that you can see about a person. I think those are what people sort of hearken first. But when we think about our work and when we talk to faculty across the world, really, when we say, like, what does diversity mean to you in terms of what you encounter in the classroom, We see faculty say all kinds of things that are often invisible when you look at a student, right, So they're... if they're a first generation college student, if they're from, say, maybe a more rural setting and the state that you're in or they have a job that is pretty demanding outside of their school work, or they are a caregiver for their parents or for their children, like things that that obviously impact the way that they're able to learn in your course and how much time they can devote. Those are the kinds of things that people often grapple with when they're thinking about how to manage, say, the assignments and the coursework. And so I think there's just a wide variety of descriptors that we could use to talk about students. And that's what I think makes it really challenging for us when when people limit the kinds of descriptive descriptors for diversity, because it really limits the approaches and techniques that we can harness to really help students, all the students.
Kelly Hogen 5:43
Yeah. And to add to that, I think part of the national dialogue and problem we have right now is that it is seen as a very limited set of characteristics. It's often race, ethnicity, gender. And as Viji said, you know, we're thinking far more broadly and that doesn't seem to be part of the conversation, or at least it's not the loudest part of the conversation.
Derek Bruff 6:08
Kelly Hogan 6:11
So I guess I will jump in a little bit with inclusion and equity. So it's not enough just to have diversity in a space, right? I mean, think about welcoming people and making them feel a sense of belonging. That's an important part of... once you have a diverse group of students, you know, how are you going to help them stay engaged, retained, feel respected, all of those things. And I think that's where the equity piece can really help. When we think about the diversity of students and how to make them all feel included.
We often talk about analogies to help people think about what that kind of equity can look like. And more recently, we've been using an airport example where if you think about all the structure that exists at an airport, from the signs that may be ahead, they may be on the ground there, they may be in multiple languages. When you're getting ready to board a plane, often there is an audio announcement. There may be a sign that's sort of flashing about which zone can be boarding right now. And those kinds of things can help some people more than others. Right. So in an individual that is hearing impaired is really going to benefit from some of those visual cues, but they're going to help individuals who speak multiple languages, maybe not the language where they are. They're going to help people who don't have a lot of experience in airports. Maybe it's your first time in an airport and you're not one of these savvy travelers who is at an airport every week. Right. So it doesn't harm those savvy travelers to have that kind of structure, but it's really going to help a lot of people. And you don't even know how many different kinds of people it's going to help. It's just good practice to add that kind of structure.
And that's what we think about in the classroom. What are the ways we can add all of those structures that are going to help a student navigate our course from course design all the way to being in a classroom, interacting with peers in a way that isn't going to harm anybody who maybe has a bit more experience or doesn't need all of those scaffolds, but they probably need some. And that's how we're going to bring inclusion into the classroom.
Derek Bruff 8:28
What I hear also is that just as the designer of an airport would like all the passengers to get to where they need to go, your goal as a teacher is to help all of your students get to where they need to go, right?
Viji Sathy 8:44
Derek Bruff 8:45
And so and that's that's an important mindset, right? That it is really about helping all those students succeed.
Kelly Hogan 8:52
Yeah, I like I like the way you just put that.
Derek Bruff 8:55
Viji Sathy 8:56
Yeah. And it's it's not a given, right, that everybody understands that approach. And and I think that's a challenge to communicate even with the public when you think about it, because they may have experienced classrooms where they didn't feel that was the goal, where they felt like only certain people could potentially do well in a course and succeed. And so, you know, part of the job of "school" is to weed out certain people. Right. And what we're saying is and we have a different approach, we really want to help everybody who walks into our classroom understand the material well and succeed in whatever their future endeavors might be. And that is a goal we should all strive for. But but it might not be something we've all experienced.
Derek Bruff 9:39
Sure. And I certainly I know faculty who sometimes see themselves as having that weed out function. Right. We've met faculty like that. Do you find there are students who walk in with those expectations as well, that this is a competitive environment and only some of us can succeed? How do you talk to your students about this approach to teaching and this type of equity that you're trying to foster?
Kelly Hogan 10:08
Yeah, I think on day one I start telling them this is not a weed out course. They use that word as if it's a fact, like it's a course characteristic that you can find in the bulletin. Right. And from day one, I like to sort of not just talk about it, but have them experience what I mean and then repeat it throughout the course. So, for example, I might start on the first day and I teach hundreds of students, but this would work in any class size. Throw a question out to the class. Maybe it's a little bit personal, maybe it whatever that question is and just watch that nobody raises their hand. They're all a little nervous. Maybe one person does, right? But the point is to just say, okay, how did that feel? It probably didn't feel very inclusive. You were probably nervous. You were overthinking. You were you were thinking about what your peers were thinking about you, all these things. What if I did this a different way, you know? And then I introduce polling, which is a tool I'm going to use throughout the semester, and I explain to them how that probably felt more comfortable to a lot of them and that the technology would become more comfortable.
And then, like I said, it's not enough to just do that on the first day. Every time I'm using a tool or I'm having them discuss something with each other, I'm often bringing back that metacognitive piece to be thinking about Why are we doing it this way? Not only how is this helping you feel included, but how it's helping your learning at the same time?
Viji Sathy 11:34
Then I'd add, in addition to the first day, really sort of stating that as an as an outcome for me, that that I want all students to do well, that it's that I mean, I it's not even sort of a joke like it's what I tell them every semester is, you know, I'll retire the semester where everybody earns the top grades, right? That you all master the material, that that is what I want. Like, that's what I'm aiming for and supporting their, their wins. Like I use polling technology as well. And I, and I say like, let's celebrate when 100% of students get an answer correct. Let's decide what the celebration looks like. And then semester to semester, they think of weird things and I tell them some examples. The one that didn't work so well was I had to tell a joke every time they did that. And I'm not a good joke teller, so I lost out. Another group offered. I don't know if you have. I've seen this game. It's called like Pie Face or something like that, where it's a game where there's like a little arm that swings up and it can it simulates like a pie in your face, but you just spray with whipped cream. And so for everyone they would accumulate these and then on the day of the exam they could would get three or four pies thrown at me.
And that was a fun one. But just, you know that these are moments to celebrate, that I want to celebrate them, that they should celebrate them, that these are things that we aspire to as a community to learn together and to succeed together. I think that's really important, in part to sort of really deprogram some of the things that they learned about what school looks like. And when you think about it, when they come to our classrooms, we're a pretty selective institution. They have worked really hard to get in, to get a spot at our school and to be in our classroom. And so we really have to work actively to remind them that, you know, this next part is about really just focusing on learning and not trying to come out ahead of your peers, for example. Right. So focusing on the collaboration piece of it, at least that's that's our approach is to think about that that being an integral part of their learning is the collaborative piece.
Kelly Hogan 13:46
Sadly, I think a lot of students have heard the opposite message, and so saying a few things explicitly around your care that they all do well is kind of shocking sometimes. And even on the first day they'll be like, Wow, I can't believe that this class is going to be this way, Right? I really appreciate what you just said, which makes you realize that they aren't hearing this message enough.
Derek Bruff 14:12
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I find that a lot of students, when they believe that their instructor really wants them to succeed, it just opens up a lot of doors for teaching and learning. Do you do you use words like inclusive teaching or diversity or equity when you talk to your students?
Viji Sathy 14:34
That's a good question. It's not like I would actively avoid them. I, I think I tend not to only because I care to show them what I mean rather than to really like put terms around it. But but I do think it's an important practice that maybe we should all be thinking a little bit more about being explicit. I mean, we talk about transparency as a as a goal in our teaching, and maybe this is something that we also need to be thinking about. What is it? What do we mean by equity and inclusion in the classroom? I've asked my students that. I've asked them to tell me what does it feel like to be included in a classroom? What does it feel like to be excluded? You know, give me examples. But I'm not sure that I've ever said, okay, the reason we're doing this this way is because of inclusive teaching, right?
Yeah, but that's just my approach. And I also fairly flipped format class, but I never refer to it as a flipped classroom. I think in part that's more strategic just to not stereotype the classes. But in general, I think my tendency is to just do the things and not to call them a certain thing.
Kelly Hogan 15:46
I've definitely shown students some data that get at the idea of equity and inclusion. But yeah, I'm not always super explicit about linking with those words. It's a good question. But recently Viji and I wrote an article about inclusion and I sent it to my students. It was towards the end of the semester and I sent it out to them. Totally optional if they wanted to take a look. And I didn't hear from most of them, but a few students came to me either right after class or in my office hours and specifically said, I really like how you framed what you were talking about around diversity. And, you know, one student went so far as to like, really have a deep conversation with me about this is so helpful. I feel like I can share this with my family that has a certain political leaning where they they don't really understand that this is a much bigger viewpoint in terms of including people. I feel like I have a little bit of a language that I can use now, so that was super rewarding, I shared that with Viji right away. This is this is ringing true for students and it's helping them.
Viji Sathy 16:53
We have a course that we've launched here. Our last year was the first year of the general education curriculum launch, and we call it a first year thriving course. And and there's a unit in that course that Kelly and I really spent a lot of time thinking about. It's it's around basically learning strategies and being a good student. But. But really giving the names like retrieval practice, for example to students. And we feel pretty strongly about this because I think that our sense is that our students know when a course is good for them, but they may not know why it's good for them. And and we wanted to give them sort of to arm them with terms that would help them see, oh, when a when instructor is asking you a question, for example, let's say in the next class period, they ask you a question from a previous class session. Here is what that is called. And why they're using that technique. Right. And and we felt that that was important to incorporate in a course that all students would encounter because not all instructors have the bandwidth to describe that technique, nor do they even maybe understand why they're doing it either. Right. They might just know it helps when students have to retrieve information more regularly but not know the science behind it.
And so that's that's where I feel like we should be heading, is really thinking about how do we give our students the language in terms to be able to advocate for themselves If they're not seeing retrieval practice in a class, how do they then give themselves retrieval practice? Right? So these are the kinds of things that I think we should all be thinking about systematically giving our students the opportunity to understand. And it can't be everything because there's people, who know... It's like getting a PhD, right? You can't learn everything. But what are the key things that we know are important for success and learning? And and oftentimes they don't know it because they just haven't been given that information, right? We just sort of throw them in trial by fire into group work, but we don't talk about what makes group work effective. So really thinking about how to systematically offer that to more students.
Derek Bruff 19:00
Yeah, I like that. Well, you mentioned other instructors, and that's something I wanted to ask you about as well. When it comes to inclusive teaching, how do you talk about that with other faculty, either at your own institutions or elsewhere?
Kelly Hogan 19:16
Viji and I generally have a philosophy that we like to talk to faculty and talk concrete concretely about practical tips and ideas, and we share a lot of our ideas, but we always really appreciate it when people share other concrete, practical tips with us.
And of course, talking to faculty, you can speak a little bit more technically than you might with students, right? So whether it's, you know, showing somebody that PowerPoint now has the ability to live Subtitle. I think a lot of us got used to captioning through Zoom when we were online and students appreciate that. And lots of students benefit from it. Well, we can bring that back into the live classroom, right? So a tip like that is someone's like, oh, I didn't even know it could do that, right? How do you do it? And you show them it's this little button you click here, right? Right. And I think those are the kinds of things that are really valuable, but also the bigger ideas, right? People want those tiny tips, but also why is it important that your LMS is well designed? Who is that helping? Right. So the theory behind structure and then where those places are that you can add structure, whether it's facilitating small groups, updating your syllabus to be more clear with lots of daily objectives and goals, a good LMS design all those types of things.
Viji Sathy 20:43
And I'd say adding to that one other piece of it is to experience it right, to be in a setting where we're modeling these approaches and really being explicit that we're modeling them. And also, what does it feel like to be in that situation? Kelly gave the example earlier of like throwing out a question in a room, and what does it feel like to just sit in that moment of silence usually and and just remember? Because I think sometimes as educators, we forget what it's like to feel like a student, to feel awkward, to feel like you don't know what the "instructor is looking for" as an answer. We just we get a little removed from that experience. And so as much as possible, we try to give faculty a chance to to experience it and appreciate the difficulty it can it can feel like for a student, but also, as Kelly said, like the why behind it. And and the tips right? Like the little things that you can do in addition to the big things you could work towards that might help more students succeed.
And I think a big part of it is that we just speak from experience and from talking with faculty. And we are you know, we are faculty. It's not it's just something that I think people really appreciate when you when you know, this is coming from people who do this, right, and it is attainable. And also that your peers have wonderful ideas that you can turn to them over the course of the semester and the coming years, really giving them a sense of community amongst themselves to to to reach out and work with each other. I think those are the kinds of things that are really helpful, just mimicking what a what a classroom experience can feel like when you do these kinds of approaches.
Kelly Hogan 22:24
And then I think when you're talking about change, whether it's individual faculty or broader department or institutional change, you know, some people respond to data, right? So you can certainly share data with faculty. Some people respond more to the narrative storytelling. So you could explain the one student that was impacted and and how that was so meaningful. So I think there are a lot of tools and it just really depends on who you're talking to and in your goals, how long you have to work with them.
Derek Bruff 22:54
Yeah, well, and one thing I've noticed about the ways that you talk about inclusive teaching is that you use the language of "structure" a lot. And I'm a little curious why and where that came from. I can guess, but I'd love to hear you say a little bit about your choice of that word when we're talking with faculty.
Kelly Hogan 23:15
So it comes out of a lot of the biology education research world. I've worked with Scott Freeman and Sarah Eddy in the past looking at my own classroom and data, and Scott Freeman had started doing a lot of work around what he and his post-docs and graduate students were calling a more highly structured classroom. I was doing some some of the work in parallel, but there was a moment when he published some data. I can't remember it was Science or PNAS, but it was a big deal, and I realized that I also had added structure to my classroom and had some preliminary data that it was really helping students that needed it most, minoritized students in particular. And I met him at a conference and I just walked up to him and said, Could you come to my poster? And I was really nervous to ask him, but he is the nicest person on this planet. And within minutes he was like, What can I do to help you? This is amazing. And so he took me under his wing in the best kind of mentorship. He put me and Sarah Eddy together, who was a postdoc at his time, at at that time. And Sarah and I did a lot of work to put this together. But under the framework of higher structure, and you'll see it certainly sort of originating in a lot of biology education research, whether it comes from another field, actually don't know.
Derek Bruff 24:49
Viji Sathy 24:51
Then we you know, we wrote a book on this topic of inclusive teaching and obviously the word structure appears multiple times in the book. So something that you're pointing out really resonates for me and that one of the pieces of feedback we got early on was we need to pull structure out as its own chapter. And so we worked really hard on thinking about how do we do that because it is such an integral part of the idea. And, and for us, it's so enmeshed in what we do that we didn't think about pulling it out as its own thing to talk about. And I think it's a stronger book because of that, because it is such, it's one of those things where it's like, yes, it's helpful to weave it in throughout, but it's also helpful to call it out as a really powerful tool. And I think people know and have experienced what a lack of structure can feel like in different settings and and help you empathize with that. And once you start to see and I see it everywhere, right, like in everyday life, I see when there's a lack of structure and how people are lost, when that structure is not available
Derek Bruff 26:03
And it's it's, it's those retail establishments where like there are multiple checkout lines and sometimes every checkout line gets it, every checkout facility gets its own line. And other times there's one line that branches out and occasionally you're not sure which one is happening. And it's yes, it's very.
Viji Sathy 26:22
Whether you zip or merge into the freeway or not. But right, like there are so many things where it went unstated. It creates chaos and confusion and it does create a sense of like, I don't know how to navigate this, so I must not belong here. Right. Like that ultimately is what it's about. Like, I can't figure this out. And, and so when you add structure, when you add signage, when you do all of these things that really help people sort of plop into a place and know how to navigate it, then you're really starting to communicate that not only is it important for them that you don't want them to have these experiences, but that you've thought ahead like you have really considered what it might feel like to not know how to do this and what what will be beneficial and effectively like get people through and not be irritated. Right? There's so many byproducts of that. But but I think it really ultimately shows the care that goes into the planning. And that's where I think that structure piece is really, really helpful, is giving people a concrete tool to think about when they launch a course assignment, for example, how do I add structure to that? Or when I set up my learning management system, what is what is that structure like for students to navigate? I think that's definitely something that's helpful for people to then turn into a practical element of planning.
Derek Bruff 27:42
Well, and you might appreciate, I made a comment at a conference recently where I used the language of structure to talk about equity, and I was sitting next to a postdoc in biology and she leaned over to me and she said, Have you read this book called Inclusive Teaching? And I was like, Yes, yes. It's awesome.
So you're both STEM educators. I'm wondering, do you address these topics differently when you have a room full of STEM educators versus a more mixed audience?
Kelly Hogan 28:20
Not really, no. We we learned pretty early on doing workshops that
we had everybody from every kind of discipline and the feedback and the ideas we were sharing seemed to resonate with everybody. So few opportunities exist for faculty to talk to each other about teaching and really share ideas. I think faculty can, for the most part, recognize like this would work in my classroom, I might tweak it a little bit. I would say it probably comes down to more like class size. I have eight students versus 400. What's feasible now? Less about discipline. We've gotten very little pushback about this wouldn't work in my discipline.
Yeah, and I say it doesn't hurt, though, when you have a couple of STEM educators talking to other STEM educators. I'm not sure why, but sometimes that sort of lends some credibility.
But yeah, in general, you know, when you think about the practices associated with teaching, we're doing them all and all the different kinds of courses, small group work. Assessments might look different in one course from another, but we still have them and we still think about how do we help them get to, say, a bigger assessment from smaller assessments. So there's all kinds of things that are really comparable from course to course. And like Kelly said, when in the in the instance, like we we've had faculty who teach things that are wildly different from what we teach, right? Like I'm thinking about a technical school we were at and you know, that they were training EMTs and they were also people who were woodworkers. And I had a moment of panic like, Oh, no, what if, like, what if this doesn't feel like it applies to them? And no, in fact, they all talked about like how helpful it was to have this kind of information to work with their students.
So there's there's just things that are pretty universal about being in a classroom space with students that that do help more students learn whatever it is that we're trying to teach them.
Kelly Hogan 30:26
I think we've gotten better at it too, though. There's a moment when we talk to faculty. A lot of times you say you introduce some of your own story by saying, My students say I'm not a math person, and you sort of start there with you say you're not a math person, but let me show you why you can do this. And immediately people are like, Oh, yeah, I teach writing and people say, I'm I'm not a writer or I teach art. I'm not an art person. And so it doesn't really matter what discipline.
Derek Bruff 30:55
Kelly Hogan 30:55
You always find the parallels.
Derek Bruff 30:57
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And that's also interesting what you said about class size. I had Robert Talbert and David Clark on the podcast recently and they were looking at alternative grading practices and they had talked to a lot of faculty and I asked them this question about disciplinary differences and they said, no, it's, it's more course size. That seemed to be a bigger difference in how people approach some of these teaching practices. So that makes a lot of sense.
Well, when you're and I don't know how often you have a chance to do this, but when you're speaking to people who are maybe I don't know if this is the right way to say it, but they're kind of they're stakeholders in higher education, but they're not students or faculty, right? They're not kind of in it on a daily basis. But parents, alumni, members of the general public, maybe even legislators. How do you talk about these ideas with those folks who are not maybe in a classroom on a regular basis? Are there are there are there ways you approach those conversations differently than with students or faculty? Are there terms you like to use or not use with with those audiences?
Kelly Hogan 32:03
I think in general, using some of the analogies we talked about, like the airport analogy and there's others we could use, and then bringing that back to one or two examples in the classroom, right? And then maybe using a student example as to how that helped that particular student or that kind of student or how it helps multiple student groups, you know, some of the outcomes. So I think it's it's it's just good communication. It's a mix of the data, the storytelling, the analogy, all of that seems to work. And we've we've had practice talking to diverse groups of faculty. So I think that gives us some confidence. We have practice talking to our own administrators. So I think it helps the more experience you have talking about it. It does get easier and the benefit of working together is often when Vijy is talking and we're talking to a group, I stare at the group of people and see when she's getting head nods and she does the same for me. And then later we'll share notes and be like, When you... do this again, that worked.
And it really points to the sort of how much we value the collaboration that we have amongst ourselves, but that this is a this should be a team effort, right? That I know everybody feels like they're out on their own, especially in an academic setting. It feels like you're on your own a lot of the time. But I'd say this is one place where I think it is helpful to partner up to find people to work together with. The product is always better when when there's a couple of people working on it, right? Like that's why we have committees oftentimes is to really produce something good. But but as Kelly is saying, it really gives you a more accurate sense of what's landing. Well, for people, what kinds of things are helpful.
And we don't have to invent this. I mean, there's a lot of really great training and information about science communication. Like I borrow from that a lot when I think about how do we make information accessible to people for whom this is not their everyday terminology. And so I think there's a lot of different places we can grow as educators to think about expanding who we educate and and the tools that we could do it with. Right? And so even Twitter, what vestiges are left of it or Threads or wherever we go next, like these are potentially public places where we could be communicating a little bit more and and thinking about how do we help people understand what we're trying to do in the classroom today as opposed to maybe what they have experienced.
Kelly Hogan 34:37
Yeah, And I do think maybe it's the time that we all need to jump in a bit more. You mentioned legislators, but I think the stakes are high these days to counteract this very narrow message that's out there that we're all out here teaching critical race theory, making people feel bad about their own whiteness and that is not what we mean with DEI kind of work, right? I mean, that might be a very small component in some classrooms, but it has become the talking point. Right. And I think if you've never met a professor before and you're in the general public, what we are assumed to be is not very good lately. Right. And so I think we have to counteract that by just coming in as very reasonable, reasonable people talking about what we mean by diversity and inclusion in the classroom and not only talk about it, show it and help people experience it best they can. So I do think it's an important time that maybe we never felt like we had to speak up and maybe we're not the most outspoken political people. I don't think we have to be that either to just be representative of what we mean by being inclusive in the classroom.
Derek Bruff 35:54
Well, thank you. You've... I was going to ask you if if you could wave a magic wand and change our discourse around equity, diversity and inclusion, what would you change? But I think you've just identified it that that it's it's more than just this narrow view. And I think about, you know, and you've mentioned several times the experiences people had as students back in the day, either faculty remembering their own experiences or members of the public thinking about that. And, you know, if I think about my college experience and what, you know, the physics class and the math classes, I took, what they look like and the kinds of teaching that you're describing, there's a big difference, actually, like like just the kind of functions and practices in the classroom are very different. So I appreciate the work that you do trying to help faculty colleagues everywhere advance their teaching, but also communicate that in really useful ways.
Viji Sathy 36:49
I guess I'll just add, I'm not sure why we don't have a tolerance for that in the teaching space as much as we might in other spaces, right? Like, would you want your surgeon to be using techniques from 20 years ago now? I mean, we say that technology advances, we say techniques and science advances. The same should be true of this profession as it is for other professions. Right. And so I think it's really important for educators to be, to continue to educate about what what is necessary for us. Right. These kinds of techniques and approaches. It's not just being nice to our students. It's about being effective educators. And it's not, it's not optional. It really is core and principal to what we're trying to do with our students. And and as Kelly said, we were being called to really speak about that. And we should as as many opportunities as we have any any spaces that you can write, you know, write maybe letters to your like an op ed or something like that. We've seen people really approach this as let's just start talking about what we're doing so that other people aren't making up what we're doing.
Derek Bruff 38:04
Kelly Hogan 38:05
Yeah. Could even start with the parents of students in your own class, right? Like, here's what you're getting, here's what your students are getting.
Derek Bruff 38:15
Yeah. And I think, you know, putting aside a few people who may really want to do the kind of weed out process, I think most people, most stakeholders in higher education do want all students to succeed, no matter their backgrounds, no matter their identities. It would be great if all the students did well and were were able to kind of move on and do great things with the education they received. So I think that's some common ground that sometimes gets lost in these conversations.
Well, thank you both for coming on the podcast. This has been really great. I appreciate you sharing your experiences, your expertise, your wisdom in these areas. Thanks. Thanks so much for being here.
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Derek Bruff 38:58
That was Viji Sathy, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Kelly Hogan, professor of the practice of biology at Duke University. They are authors of the book "Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom," which I would recommend to any instructor in higher education. Thanks to both Kelly and Viji for taking the time to come on the podcast and for their willingness to share their perspectives and experiences on this sometimes contentious topic. And thanks to all who listen to this conversation. I hope you've picked up some ideas for how you can talk with your students and colleagues and others about inclusion and equity in higher education.
In the show notes, I've put a link to Viji and Kelly's March 2023 essay "How can 'Inclusion' Be a bad Word?" You'll need to log in to the Chronicle of Higher Education to read it, although you don't need a paid subscription. You'll also find links to more information about Viji and Kelly and their work.
This episode of Intentional Teaching was produced and edited by me, Derek Bruff. See the show notes for links to my website, the sign up form for the Intentional teaching newsletter and my Patreon, which helps support the show. For just a few bucks a month you get access to the occasional bonus episode, Patreon-only teaching Resources, the archive of past newsletters and a community of intentional Educators. As always, thanks for listening.