Opportunities for TAs to Explore Diversity and Inclusion in Biology Education
Outlined below are multiple ways in which Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Course Lecturers can learn about, and reflect on, diversity and inclusion in biology education.
Biology 5001 – TAs in our Professional Development Course have numerous opportunities to read, discuss, and reflect on Diversity and Inclusion issues and how to apply it in their own classrooms.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) journal group- each semester we have a 5–6-week journal group centered around DEIJ. Participants choose peer-reviewed articles to present and discuss as a group related to teaching biology. We end each discussion with a share-out of our own take-away from the article. We’ve explored issues around race, disabilities, gender, SES, 1st generation status, social anxiety, and religion.
- Writing a diversity statement- Students can craft a diversity statement for job applications or for their syllabus. For the syllabus statement, we provide prompts for students to reflect on and then use to craft their statement. Feedback and revisions are part of this process.
- Workshops- Many departments/units across campus offer wonderful workshops our instructors can attend and reflect upon. The Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning, the Multicultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Student Wellness Center, the Kirwin institute, and CFAES all offer valuable workshops to explore diversity and inclusion in teaching.
- Implicit Bias training- The Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity has an Implicit Bias Module Series that helps TAs identify their own implicit biases.
- Diverse Scientists group- In Spring 2021 a group of instructors aligned the work of diverse researchers to course learning objectives in two introductory biology courses. This can be used by other instructors and faculty to foster a sense of belonging in science for all students.
- SABER (Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research) seminar series- In Autumn 2020, SABER offered the series: Striving for Racial Justice in Academic Biology; In Spring 2021, the series expanded to: Seminar series on Inclusion. Recorded videos are available on their website.
- Book group- Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele explores student stereotype threat.
- Inclusive Teaching Endorsement offered by The Drake Institute: Instructors participate in six DEI-related workshops and reflect on their experience for a university recognized endorsement.
- Independent project- TAs have chosen their own projects, such as creating a document for other instructors to aid in Supporting ESL students (by Colin Sweeney), or exposing students to the work and images of diverse scientists by creating activities around primary literature.
Biology 6001- Graduate TAs enrolled in the Biology College Teaching course read, reflect, and discuss peer-reviewed literature during a specific unit on Diversity & Inclusion. In their course artifacts they reflect on how the materials they create help all students learn biology. Students also write their teaching philosophies in which they are encouraged to reflect on DEIJ.
- CLSE staff and Course Lecturers formed an anti-racism reading group in the Summer of 2020. We meet bi-weekly to read and discuss anti-racism, and how we can apply what we read to our work. In addition to several books, we’ve discussed articles about how race is taught in Biology courses and brainstormed on how to make our educational practices/policies antiracist. Books read include:
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad.
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Black Faces, White Spaces, by Carolyn Finney
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson
- What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching, by Tracie Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah Mitchell, and Mallory SoRelle
- Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Trouble History of America's Universities, by Craig Steven Wilder