Teaching Center offers new institute focused on diversity and inclusion

two men in a discussion
During the inaugural STEM Faculty Institute on Teaching in Seigle Hall, Jay Turner (left) and Marcus Foston, both of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, participate in a discussion June 19, 2014. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

As Washington University in St. Louis strives to increase diversity among faculty, staff and students, the Teaching Center is working to help faculty capitalize on that diversity and encourage learning across differences.

The Teaching Center will offer a new program in May, “Inclusion and Diversity to Engage All: Faculty Institute on Teaching,” or IDEA FIT, with support from the Office of the Provost.

Adrienne D. Davis, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, explained the mindset behind the institute.

“As the diversity of Washington University’s student population grows, we are excited to support The Teaching Center’s IDEA FIT, which will create a learning community for faculty who are developing innovations in their courses and working together to apply evidence-based strategies that can enhance student learning at Washington University,” Davis said.

“Informed by student and faculty perspectives on diversity gathered in the university’s Mosaic report, IDEA FIT will provide an opportunity to transform our teaching and expand our knowledge about how to improve learning and create welcoming environments for all of our students,” she said.

Beth A. Fisher, director of academic services at the Teaching Center, added, “Part of the universitywide efforts to create inclusive learning and working environments, IDEA FIT will provide opportunities for faculty to develop strategies for facilitating learning across differences in the classroom.”

IDEA FIT will bring faculty together in interactive workshops to help instructors capitalize on diversity to help students recognize and understand different perspectives. IDEA FIT is open to all faculty and will take place May 25-26. To apply, visit the Teaching Center website.

STEM FIT returns

IDEA FIT builds on the success of STEM FIT (the STEM Faculty Institute on Teaching), which began in 2014. STEM FIT offers an opportunity for faculty to collaborate with colleagues to integrate evidence-based, active-learning pedagogies that can help retain students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. STEM FIT also includes research on, discussion of, and strategies for inclusive teaching. STEM FIT 2016 will take place June 14-16.

Like IDEA FIT, STEM FIT consists of interactive presentations as well as working groups in which faculty members collaborate to refine aspects of their courses.

“STEM FIT alumni have said that the institutes energized and sparked innovations in their teaching,” Fisher said.

Jay Turner, associate professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, participated in STEM FIT in its inaugural year and as an alumnus last year:

“The thought of revamping an existing course can be daunting,” Turner said. “After all, if it is not broken, then why fix it?

“But from STEM FIT, I learned how to introduce a series of incremental changes that could be implemented over time and have a significant cumulative effect on student engagement and learning,” he said.

STEM FIT is open to full-time STEM faculty. To apply, visit the Teaching Center site 

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