Welcome to episode 74 of the Think UDL podcast: Inclusive Instructors Use UDL with Tracie Addy. Dr. Tracie Addy is the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning and the Director of the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Along with her co-authors Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell, and Mallory SoRelle, she wrote the book What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching. I have wanted to have Dr. Addy on the podcast since I participated in one of the webinars associated with her book as I saw so many correlations between UDL and the practices and principles that she highlights. In today’s conversation, we take a look at barriers to inclusion, what facilitates student learning, and what creates or hinders a sense of belonging. We also talk about course design, inclusive syllabi, how to engage students, and how to create inclusive assessments. Dr. Addy has provided quite a few resources besides her book that can help all of us to become more inclusive instructors. You’ll find those in our resources area on the ThinkUDL.org webpage associated with episode 74. Thank you so much for listening to this conversation on how UDL is so closely related to inclusive practices.
The Who’s In Class? Form is available through this link from Lafayette college, and soon a publication about the form will be out and the form will be available without needing to ask Lafayette for a copy. We will update our resources when it is available!
Addy, T.M., Dube, D., Mitchell, K. (2021). Chapter 14: Measuring the Impact of Pedagogical Efforts for Equity & Inclusion. In Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education:Strategies for Teaching, Edited byR. Kumar and B. Refaei. University of Cincinnati Press.
Addy, T.M., Reeves, P.M., Dube, D., Mitchell, KA. (2021). What Really Matters for Instructors Implementing Equitable and Inclusive Teaching Approaches. To Improve the Academy, 40(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3998/tia.182
Cook-Sather, A., Addy, T.M., DeVault, A., Litvitskiy, N. (2021). Where Are the Students in Efforts for Inclusive Excellence?: Two Approaches to Positioning Students as Critical Partners for Inclusive Pedagogical Practices. To Improve the Academy, 40(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3998/tia.961
Lillian Nave 00:00
Welcome to think UDL, the universal design for learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian nave, and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters. Welcome to Episode 74 of the think UDL podcast inclusive instructors use UDL with Tracie Addy. Dr. Tracie Addy is the Associate Dean of teaching and learning and the director of the Center for the integration of teaching, learning and scholarship at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Along with her co authors Derrick Dubey, Khadija Mitchell and Mallory Serral. She wrote the book what inclusive instructors do principles and practices for excellence in college teaching? I have wanted to have Dr. Addy on the podcast since I participated in one of the webinars associated with her book, as I saw so many correlations between UDL and the practices and principles that she highlights. In today’s conversation, we take a look at barriers to inclusion, what facilitates student learning, and what creates or hinders a sense of belonging. We also talk about course design inclusive syllabi, how to engage students and how to create inclusive assessments. Dr. Addy has provided quite a few resources besides a book that can help all of us to become more inclusive instructors. You’ll find those in our resources area on the think udl.org webpage associated with episode 74. Thank you so much for listening to this conversation on how UDL is so closely related to inclusive practices. Thank you so much, Dr. Tracie Addy, for joining me today on the think UDL podcast. Well, I’m very excited about what you have to talk about today about being an inclusive instructor. I have followed and watched several of your webinars and your book. And I think you’ve got a lot to tell us about the intersection of Universal Design for Learning, and what inclusive instructors do. So I’ll start off with the question I asked my guests, which is what makes you a different kind of learner.
Dr. Tracie Addy 02:50
I really like the big picture. So give me the big picture first, then fill in the details later. So when I was in school, I remember some of my teachers actually going into depth with those small parts of things. And I couldn’t place it all together. And I think that’s good for many people, you know, to get the big picture. So we have the frameworks, but it’s especially important to me. Oh, great.
Lillian Nave 03:14
So you have written a book with with several colleagues about what inclusive instructors do. And some may, I’ve heard this criticism about inclusive teaching, as being outside their job. I don’t agree with it. But I’ve heard this idea about that’s outside my job, my primary directive is to teach the material, you know, the material only. And so I’m interested in how you combat that criticism and and ask you what is your definition of inclusive teaching? And why is it important?
Dr. Tracie Addy 03:50
Yeah, that’s a great question. So this also very much so aligns with a study that we recently did. This study was looking at barriers to inclusion that were expressed by participants like why or what barriers are there that can impede, you know, this implementation or adoption of inclusive teaching? And it also looked at, like, you know, what are some promising things that could help it as well? And so one of the items mentioned, and, you know, we saw on our thematic analysis was this very thing that you mentioned, responsibility. It’s not my responsibility to create an inclusive classroom environment as a major barrier as well. And a personal one, because they had personal barriers. They also had institutional barriers that they that they talked about, as well. So with regards to thinking about what about what do we say to those right, who, who feel like it’s not their responsibility? You I would typically have some type of conversation with them, but of course, it would be very context dependent, you know, and also I would be very aware of how they’re responding, but one The things I think that’s good to introduce when people you know, don’t feel it’s their responsibility is to ask a little bit about what do you think facilitates student learning, you know, and just, you know, kind of tell me some ideas of what you think, you know, helps learning. And then also, what do you think hinders student learning in the classroom? And, and get a sense of the things that they describe? And add to that if it’s not their sense of belonging, right, equitable approaches to teaching. And so when you ask about what is inclusive teaching, that’s what we’re getting at there. Right. So it’s this idea that we’re fostering a welcoming environment for students, and it’s inclusive, and that it’s inclusive of all of our learners. So we’re teaching a diverse, you know, student population, and we’re responsive to that in our teaching. And so, for that particular individual who might not feel it’s a responsibility, you know, talking a little bit about, you know, we’ve seen and we know, from, there’s evidence that belonging is critical for student learning, so you can actually add that to the facilitating learning in the list, right. And also, you know, creating a more equitable environment, add that all, you know, to that list. And, you know, think about ways in which this is why we wrote what inclusive instructors do that we as instructors can actually facilitate that, and probably get into more of a conversation with them about how do they facilitate those other aspects in which they thought promote learning, right. So there’s ways actually that we can also do that for Inclusive teaching as well. And so I probably kind of have that kind of back and forth, right conversation and kind of see how they’re reacting. And if they actually described a few strategies that actually embed it or you know, inclusive teaching kind of within them in some way, I probably say, wow, you’re actually doing, like, so affirming that these are actually things that you you probably you might do in your class, but you don’t even label it maybe inclusive teaching, but they are. So I think, in general, having those conversations is important to really parse out that this is something that helps our students learn, we know it, it’s from the research, you know, we know people who practice it, you know, we see it in our classes when we teach this way, and how it helps facilitate learning.
Lillian Nave 07:22
You know, it, this seems like it is trying to put some glasses, some corrective lenses on our faculty. And if we can make the comparison that that they don’t realize it’s happening that this is that there may be some sort of way that we are excluding some students, and we didn’t realize it. Absolutely, yeah, if we don’t have accessible materials, or if we don’t modify our format, or our content, that that makes it accessible for all of our students, it makes me think of I can definitely remember times when I have given like, I’ve been giving a lesson in a classroom. And after like two or three minutes, I’m going on about some, you know, painting or work of art, it’s very visual. And I realized that the camera or the projector has been muted, like, they can’t see what I’m talking about, you know, like, I started to just go in, I was really excited about it. And then every once in a while, I after a couple minutes, I hear, you know, finally students like, we don’t see what you’re talking about at all. And I didn’t realize I had created that barrier, you know, just I’d forgotten to flip the switch, I had turned it off to get it ready. So I wasn’t, you know, going through all of my email in front of them. And I was ready to go and hadn’t flipped that one scratch, switch for them to see. And therefore I’d made it completely inaccessible or unable for my students to do actually get to the learning. And I think this is very similar. We just don’t realize we’re doing it sometimes that we have. We haven’t turned on the projector because maybe we didn’t. We have not opened up the classroom to all of the students. We’ve left several outside the door. We just didn’t realize that we’d close the door before they got in. Yeah, absolutely speaking.
Dr. Tracie Addy 09:13
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s really important now to think about that, because, you know, yeah, in higher education, there’s many students that have been excluded in various ways. The other thing to think about and this is something that we do a lot I do a lot at my institution is student voice. So hearing it actually from students that how they’ve been excluded in various settings in the classroom in a, you know, non in a non threatening, you know, kind of non confidential way has been a very powerful method for our faculty to see the things that you know, how students perceive it to and, and increase that awareness, right, like so when we actually can hear from them as well because like you mentioned in your class, you didn’t realize it so Right, right, right students said so it’s like when we have you know, that voice also and allow it and able it right, then we can also start to hopefully be able to see, right that these are some things that are happening that we can change, you know, in there in the classroom.
Lillian Nave 10:08
Yes, absolutely. So, this, this seems to be a very important topic today. And is there any? Is there anything that made you say, We’re gonna need to write this book now? Like, what is it about? Why is it important right now?
Dr. Tracie Addy 10:29
Yeah, I think we were just very kind of favorable and timing. When the book came out, we wrote it before all of the pandemic, and all of that, you know, we were in the process of writing it before all of that. So we kind of, you know, that when it came out was, it just happened to be at a moment, I think, in institutions in higher education, where it’s this, like, kind of reckoning and understanding of like, oh, wow, we really need to pay attention to this, right. So we initially, you know, did the study and the study, we were focused on really the research and thinking about, as I mentioned before, about barriers, adoption and things of that nature. And what we realized was that there was a lot of rich information that really got at what inclusive instructors do that it would be really great to actually have some practical kind of guide or tip like the book that we always wanted, right for thinking about inclusive teaching, you know, in our teaching, and to incorporate, you know, these voices of instructors, across disciplines, across institutions, so that everybody could see that this is something that we all can do or contribute to, and creating these inclusive learning environments as well. So those were kind of some of the major things and in addition to, you know, having a passion and an interest and importance of inclusive teaching as excellent teaching, those were some of the big reasons, you know, to going in this direction, also, even at my own institution, I was thinking about different ways in which to support instructors when they were like, well, what is inclusive teaching? What does it look like? Right? So there’s a lot of confusion around that now, I think we’ve been able to operationalize it more, you know, kind of show it more in different ways, different strategies, and things like that. And so there’s less, kind of hang up over the term, and more, you know, focus over what does it kind of look like in the class? And so this book also was able to do that, and, and to really show like, what it is right, but that inclusive instructors can do? And how do we build this culture of really thinking about inclusion?
Lillian Nave 12:35
Yeah. So I that’s what I loved about reading and watching your webinars is that you actually have lots of practical strategies, right? We want to know, what does it really look like to have an inclusive environment learning environment, inclusive syllabus, inclusive strategies, inclusive assessments? So I do have a couple questions about that. And wanted to start with what I think is a great place to start with, which is your syllabus? How can we make our syllabi more inclusive? What should we What expectations do we set for students? Or what students can expect from instructors or each other? You know, what can we do in a syllabus that makes a difference?
Dr. Tracie Addy 13:17
Sure, yeah. So starting very broad with the syllabus, which I integrate into kind of the course design right phase of your, you know, your course, we can focus on tone. So that’s one thing that can be there when students you know, first see the syllabus, and it’s kind of dry kind of contractual, you know, there’s not this warm feeling of that there’s a human behind this, you know, and, you know, it’s not like a community kind of thing, then that’s, I think, at the detriment, so what can we do, instead, we can start to use also good language, like we language, community building language, we can also mention in the syllabus, ways in which we are kind of respectful a student diversity in the class and how we’re going to kind of work through that together as a community. So fostering kind of this, you know, sense of community language and putting that in the syllabus is a really good thing for, for building an inclusive environment. In addition, we want to make sure that, you know, we know that we’re teaching but we’re often teaching right as parts of institutions that have more partners to support students with inclusion, you know, with inclusion outside of the classroom. So connecting students to resources. So whether you put that up on your learning management system, whether, you know, you embed some in the syllabus, but like, you know, there’s there’s we’re part of a whole community of resources here to support you, whether it’s, you know, tutoring, whether it’s, you know, offices of accessibility services, mental health services. I’m actually working right now on a project at my institution, where we’re building a centralized site, that instructors will link to their syllabus, it’s actually embedded in our course management system. Students can access the site, but it has a whole variety of resources for them, right from college transition support to like, even like, you know, a pantry, like if they need food or, you know, and as well as tutoring and all these things. So by actually including those types of things, also on the syllabus, we’re also showing students that there’s all these other things available to support them at the institution, right in that go beyond our class. And the important thing about that is also just normalizing that help seeking right like, this is stuff that I know lots of students, you know, use, and, you know, helps helps them achieve their goals, right, well, while they’re in college, so having the community language having the resources there. And then you can also think about the content that will vary, right, depending on the the course too. But if there’s ways in which you can include material that can resonate with students from diverse backgrounds, right, so that’s another area to really consider in a course, as well to make it a more inclusive course. Having assignments where students have agency where they have choice, and I’m thinking of all of these, you know, great UDL, kind of, you know, principles of Yeah. Yeah, yeah, as well. So having that also, I think, is really great. And then coupling this with welcoming statements to students, right, we can do this outside of our syllabus. So there’s our learning management system, we’re emailing students, we’re having welcome videos, we talk in the book also about the who’s in class form. And that’s also something that can be done early in the course, you could potentially, you know, link to it on the syllabus, I suppose, as well. But just, you know, that’s a form that really thinks about who are the diverse students in my class and getting that information early. And then actually even potentially tweaking the syllabus, right, so that it can actually include that, a couple of other things on the syllabus to include growth mindset type language, right. So that With practice, you know, we can get better, you know, working harder, you know, together on this course, you know, they can help accomplish and achieve their goals, setting up a pathway for success. So students can actually see that there are kind of structures in place, and it’s well organized, that they’re kind of it’s leading them on to this journey, right, so that they can be successful in the course, we want to get away from these deficits, or lack of, you know, fixed mindset type things that like, you know, students can’t do this, some students can do that. Yeah, we’re having a growth mindset here, right? In this course, that you can do get better at writing you, you know, you can improve this, etc. You’ll learn more about this. And so incorporating that type of language is also a great thing to building a more inclusive syllabus and more inclusive course, very early on.
Lillian Nave 17:49
Yeah, I must say that, I have found out so many helpful things. When I asked my students like who’s in the class you’re using class form, I know is excellent to find out really, who you’re dealing with you it’s always different, every semester is different. And the, you know, kind of a funny one. But something that really helped me is I teach first year students, and I teach in sort of the arts and the creative, you know, sides, a lot of humanities, and I end up getting a lot of music majors, we have a really good music program, and at our university, and many of them are required to be in the marching band, like or that’s part of it. And then I found out that most of my students in the fall were in the marching band, which is a huge time commitment, especially in the afternoons or evenings. And so when I had planned to do some kind of outside of class, some service learning some civic engagement, or even a showing of a movie, they needed to see, of course, now we can throw it online, I realized that wasn’t going to work with my student body who had to be on the field in marching band, and I was never a marching band person I didn’t know, I had no clue about all of those requirements on their time. And I thought, oh, I need to be a little bit more flexible, at least in the fall in the spring. Totally different, completely different set of students. But yeah, I never would have known if I hadn’t done that, that form. And maybe it’s something kind of silly, or it’s that I found out that just a large group of the students had had problems with, you know, when we were trying to do some things together. And so getting that voice that feedback from students changed, and helped me to have a more successful class, it changed what I was doing, or at least helped me to understand I needed to be more flexible, even before I’d heard of Universal Design for Learning, you know, many years ago.
Dr. Tracie Addy 19:46
That’s wonderful. That’s good news. And that’s very much aligned with I work with a lot of instructors on the who’s in class form. The same things, you know, finding that information out early is just so transformative. Yeah. And setting that you know, tone and making the decisions that you make rate for for an actual course. So yeah, that’s, that’s nice that you know that, that you were able to do that?
Lillian Nave 20:05
Yeah, I would have been setting them up for failure Honestly, if I had stuck to like the original plan, and it would have been conflict after conflict after conflict anyway that that didn’t have to happen. Right, I could definitely redesigned. So it wouldn’t, wouldn’t have been a problem. So those are fantastic. I also appreciated how you said to normalize help seeking, because I’ve definitely seen that as part of the hidden curriculum, that only some students know that they can ask for an extension that they can, that there’s flexibility in some things, and they can go to a tutoring center, they can, you know, any number of things that will help them. And some students thought, nope, It’s sink or swim. If you can’t do it, you don’t belong here. And I didn’t really think about that, until recently about being in the syllabus, that we really have to state that very clearly to our students so that everybody is on an even playing field, not just the ones who, who came from parents who’d been to college and can say, Hey, did you ask for an extension, and you know, or talent, tell them what sort of the ins and outs are? That isn’t spoken? So we really have to speak those things? Or write them down or send them to our students? Or they’re not going to know? Definitely. So? Well, after we have this inclusive syllabus, there are lots of strategies for instructors in the classroom. So what is it that instructors are actually doing in the classroom that you would consider inclusive strategies?
Dr. Tracie Addy 21:47
Yeah, inclusive strategies can look like so much, right? Like there’s a whole diversity there of what instructors can do to build this type of classroom environment? Well, a few things to start with, you know, they’re they’re co creating guidelines with their students. So let’s say they have like a discussion course, they’re, they’re working with their students to think about how do we work or function as a community? And what kind of guidelines can they, you know, kind of abide by, they’re being very welcoming. And like using their students names, they are making sure that they can pronounce them using their student pronouns, they’re calling on students are engaging students equitably, right. So ensuring that, you know, all students are engaged, and they’re using different strategies to support that. And they might not only be, again, focus on let’s who who’s raising their hand, right? Because we can know, we know, engagement can be in many different ways. And that’s just one form of it. In a class, they’re using a wide variety of different teaching strategies. So thinking about like, you know, different active learning strategies they’re using to engage students, you know, they might be doing things like polling to make sure you know, there’s more equitable participation that students are engaged, etc. And across, you know, the board. There, they’re getting feedback on their teaching around these topics as well. So we find that a lot of inclusive instructors, you know, that they might be implementing strategies, very strategies, but they want to know how they’re working, right. So they’re also getting that feedback as well. They’re also you know, incorporating or creating environments that scaffold students and learning. So sometimes, you know, people refer to these things like thinking about, like, you know, things like high structure or, you know, the way that things are put together in a class that will help students kind of build upon their prior knowledge, move into, you know, what, what they’re currently kind of discussing, and grapple with that because we know, you know, students being novices, right, like, we’re, we’re, we’re in an expert thinking often mode, not always, you know, depending on your teaching, but like, we’re often in that type of mode. But helping students actually and thinking about employing learning science, right, that’s like what we know about how people learn. So they’re carefully scaffolding, you know, the environment for that purpose purposes. And I know we’re going to talk a little bit about assessment, that’s also a big thing, when thinking about inclusion as well.
Lillian Nave 24:08
So, one of the things you do touch on there is not always, you know, calling on people with their hands raised or you know, a variety of different ways of kind of moving through the class if you’re like in person or even on mine, you know, the quintessential kind of if you saw a movie, the classroom would be a professor cold calling on somebody you know, you are or here’s a question and waiting for a hand to come up. And recently I came across this I can’t remember where but probably on Twitter, the idea that the the first person to answer the question, that is the quick thinker, so and that really signifies confidence, rather than competence. So oftentimes, it’s the the confidence student who’s ready to talk And sometimes it’s not even the right answer, but they are pretty confident that they’re, they’re able to talk. And then we have 2040 100 other students who the wheels are still turning, they’re thinking there’s processing and handling. Yeah, how do we get at those and not just privilege, those who are ready to answer really quickly, because that’s just who they are as people. But there’s so many other students who are, can be just as successful, I should say, and can be just as engaged. But we need to offer, like you say, polling or other ways for the different students who process things differently, who think about things differently, and might be slowly and then come up with, you know, a really brilliant answer to the question that everybody else should hear too.
Dr. Tracie Addy 25:53
Yeah, definitely. And I will say, like, even like me, as a student, like, I like writing things down. So like, you know, a professor asked a question, I’d like to have a few minutes, I’d like write it down. You know, there’s so many different strategies that we can think about that are more holistic, and I agree, you know, like, we call them the first student all the time, we’re calling on the quick process, or the one who’s eager. Right. So waiting, having some time to also wait for other students, you know, I’ll wait for five more hands, you know, before, you know, we’ll call them someone. Or if you’re doing group projects, you know, maybe every table right gets some time in one, you know, they get called on but they know, you know, in advance, you’re never going to come up with an answer. But then, you know, everybody can actually contribute right? To the conversation in some type of way. In the back of the of the back channels, we talked about pulling all of that are wonderful ways, as well as writing discussion boards, you know, we’re finding all kinds of neat strategies right now that we’re using in classrooms that are alternates to, you know, just, you know, hand hand raising.
Lillian Nave 26:56
Right, right. And technology has just brought us leaps and bounds ahead for everybody writing an answer and then press return at the same time. So you can see all 20 responses, and you’re not. Yeah, you aren’t, you aren’t clouded by what somebody else said. And you can also see, Wow, 15 out of 20 of you said it, you know, like this. So it seems like that’s the consensus for our class and even talk about those differences. And it does, it gets to all those students, or at least more of the students, then traditionally, we’ve sort of seen, especially in movies, when I think about the way classrooms are, are handled. So the the idea of including more students engaging or students, that’s very UDL, by the way. So the first column on our UDL table is all about engagement, and thinking about the ways that different students will process things will, will be able to engage with whatever the the teaching, modality is that day, right? So sometimes there’s many lectures, and sometimes there’s group work, and sometimes, you know, maybe you’re online, maybe it’s a hybrid. And every student is going to be comfortable, more comfortable with some and more comfortable with other ways. So it seems like if you are mixing it up, you’re you’re going to hit somebody’s stride at some point, right? So when, okay, so you’re teaching and engaging our students with these inclusive strategies, strategies, what do the assessments then look like? How can you design or create inclusive assessments?
Dr. Tracie Addy 28:41
Yeah, so thinking about assessments that are more equitable, in general, and you know, could also foster a sense of belonging in a different way. But we’re also kind of focusing here a lot on equity. Thinking more so in terms of formative Lee, is a good way to think of assessments too. So putting more emphasis on formative assessments is what many inclusive instructors do. So they’re low stakes. They’re not going to be tied to a very, you know, high weight or grade. And we know that, you know, from learning sites that like, this is how people learn, they learned, you know, when better, you know, when they have more frequent and lower stakes, types of assessments, they can practice retrieval, and all of those wonderful things that you can do in those types. So emphasizing more the formative would be one way would also be thinking about even the ones that are a little bit more higher stakes, how they’re how they’re designed and put together. So we know that there’s, you know, this issue of like, you know, so we can have a time test right and like, you know, have have that in our class, as well. But what we can think about too is that is a time test necessary like do we is are there flexible options here to allow students more time to so some students, you know, they might need more time we know like, you know, we’ve taught like, you know, there’s students that take, like, you know, really quickly turn to the test, right, and then there’s some in that other round, and then there’s some that will wait to the very end. And it doesn’t necessarily always mean that they don’t know, sometimes students will, like, you know, want to be very careful, you know, they might know the information, they want to wait till the end. But sometimes also they might not, you know, know, so why do we need that timing factor in there? Can we allow them to have more flexibility, there is another way, so taking home assessments or designing them in other ways and projects that students can complete, that don’t necessarily have a time bound? Now we have this big conversation on the field and more openness, I would say, even with COVID, towards alternative assessment, so rethinking, you know, do we really need that traditional exam. And the alternative assessments are beautiful, some of them in various ways, because they can allow students to have not only just more time, but they can also be designed in ways that students can integrate, you know, aspects or things that resonate with them. So sometimes they’re given more choice and agency, right in those assignments and how they complete them. So that can be a very inclusive thing, because it can resonate more with students, right, and they can, you know, have some have some choice there as well. And she was like, how to represent that I’m thinking also UDL, you know, with regards to, maybe you have an assignment that students can, you know, represent in any different way, like, they can come up with any form format for the end product, but, you know, you’re going to grade them on certain things where you have your criteria, but they can, like, you know, come up with an in any way. And so having that flexibility built in, and having more choice and agency in the assignment. So having these alternative ways is definitely more inclusive. Otherwise, I would say, you know, now we’re having kind of more movements towards grade. So you know, thinking of assessment and thinking of that grade, right, like what you get, like, you know, for with regards to grading, and I’m opening up that and going back to kind of the formative way, but focusing more on the learning that’s happening, more formative ways of looking at that learning, more self reflection on learning itself. And there’s many ways to kind of do this and grading, right, like, there’s various forms that can take to the degree in which you want to explore it. But that can also be a very include inclusive way approach to thinking about, you know, grading, as well. Because then it takes a little bit of that anxiety onus off of that focus on grades and more on the learning. And I know a lot of students really will appreciate that we know that also, with tests, we see, you know, anxiety and things like that we see disparities between students and, and whatnot, so why not knock those things out of the picture a little bit, right, like, so that we can reduce those barriers and focus on learning. So those are, you know, a few ways to really think about inclusive assessment. And of course, there’s small tricks like, you know, if you can do blind grading, so, you know, in your class, and not every assignment is going to allow for that, but to be able to not carry in your own, you know, biases in the way you think about how the student has passed, performed in that particular class, etc. To try to reduce that, as well. So those are, those are a few ways we can really think about inclusive assessment.
Lillian Nave 33:25
You know, I think the pandemic has really pushed a lot more options. It really certainly has into our, you know, quiver of of arrows that are assessments because we can’t do what we used to do. There’s no longer well, not long for a while we couldn’t, you know, stuff, 100 students in a chemistry lecture hall and say, take this test, because they weren’t six feet apart. So yeah, so we had a lot more need. I mean, we’re really pushed to think of these alternative assessments. And I asked my students this week, and we’re midway through the fall semester, and 2021, as we’re recording this interview, and I asked this, my students who said, Tell me you’re a college student during a pandemic, without telling me you’re a college student during a pandemic. And, you know, some of them are like, well, I could tell the swab was a different size, you know, for my latest COVID test. Yeah, things that you wouldn’t realize, you know, you wouldn’t think about, and one student said, I just went in to take my first seeded test in six months. So we’re three, you know, three months into a semester, and I have first year students so they were probably in high school in the last semester. And that’s phenomenal to think there’s only been one seated test for this year in their five classes over three months. And that is absolutely not what it was two years ago, these students would have been showing up for midterms and taking quizzes and a whole lot of things. have been radically shifted. I thought when I heard his answer. Yeah, definitely in for the better mean, now got lots of ways, lots of ways to be much more inclusive.
Dr. Tracie Addy 35:11
Mm hmm. Yeah really pushed, I think us in higher education and outside of higher ed, k 12, etc, to really rethink the way we did things.
Lillian Nave 35:19
Yeah. And we didn’t realize it’s like, we didn’t know that the projector was off, we didn’t realize that we were excluding and that we were making it, you know, harder and putting roadblocks in the success, or the road to success for our students, until we found out oh, I can do it this way. My students are performing better. They’re, they’re demonstrating that they know the material, they’re just demonstrating it in a different way. And we just hadn’t thought about doing it until now, or until we had to, really until we have to. Yeah, you also mentioned the the idea of more formative assessments. And I had never heard that term until I was asked to give a little faculty. Oh, a little workshop about some of the things I was doing. And my good friend who was running these wonderful workshops, said, Hey, Lillian, I want you to come in and do the the kind of the group quizzes that you do. And I want you to kind of teach some of the things that you do. So something on formative assessment and summative assessment, and I said, Oh, I’d love to that sounds great. What does that mean? Do you want to tell that tell us the difference between formative and summative?
Dr. Tracie Addy 36:33
Yeah, absolutely. Formative assessments are usually pretty low stakes, they’re often not tied to a grade. So you know, they’re the little things that students can do in a class that still promote learning, even like polling, right is one example of writing down everything you know, about this topic, right? Like those types of things, or things that are just not graded. So maybe you have them write like a, you know, a paragraph about something they learned or something, you know, but it’s not graded. So these are just very kind of opportunistic times to incorporate in our teaching ways to help students like, think about what they’re they’re doing and what they’ve been learning, and to be able to capture that right. And in a way that doesn’t, you know, tied to all this like more high pressure, right, in a high in a high stakes. Setting the summative assessments on the other hand, right? They’re the opposite, where they’re more high stakes, they’re usually kind of weighted high in terms of, you know, they’re graded, as well. So it’s tied, it’s typically tied to a grade. And we’re thinking like projects, we’re thinking papers, we’re thinking tests, you know, all of those types of things that are more of the, you know, the high stakes assessments. And so what we know is that, you know, even making those shorter, like, even if it’s like a paper and like doing drafts that are kind of more formative building to that final project, or that final paper, is actually going to be beneficial and move, improve the overall quality, typically, of the students, if they get feedback, etc. And they go through this iterative process, then actually just having that end product, so I’m focusing more on the formative, we’re thinking more developmentally. The other thing about formative is that a summative is it’s too late. So like, yeah, if you just do the test, right, then students don’t have a chance to improve it till the next time they do something similar, right? So formatively, we can actually see how they’re doing, students can see how they’re doing. And then they can make changes right to that they can learn, sometimes I like in these. And when I talk about it more to like a GPS, where we’re trying to, you know, have that end goal, right, our learning goals at the end, and we’re trying to get there. And we’re following this kind of, you know, this path, but there’s multiple paths that we take. And along the way, we’re assessing how students are doing through these formative measures, right. And so if we waited until the end point, we got to our destination, right, that’s too late. We need to like do it along the way, and then we can help them, you know, get to that path, right to get to that point that we want in terms of their learning.
Lillian Nave 39:03
Yeah. So it sounds like a more inclusive strategy is to if you’ve got only formative assessments, maybe a midterm and a final to switch or or add in a lot more formative assessments would help your students to be successful and might include the more students and take away some of those barriers that we may not realize we had put in our classroom.
Dr. Tracie Addy 39:31
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So having more formative and especially early on in a course when students are trying to kind of fill out this professor or even college right you’re teaching first year students, but waiting those less and helping them kind of see the process as well and how, how you know how to take these things in school, how you know how they’re going to learn, that can be very useful in general and not only support their learning but also like their their ability to do on the class and focus on things that you want them to focus on, right? We want them to learn, we’re not just take, learn how to take the test, we want them to know, the material. Right? And so some students will come in and advantage there. So having those, you know, points of practice early is going to help everybody,
Lillian Nave 40:18
right, there’s a difference between being an expert student who can take tests well, and can remember information and then forget it right away. So they can stuff their brains with the next set, and an expert learner, where you actually make that material into your own and, and really understand it. And I, you know, we get a lot of experts, students coming in to higher ed, because they’ve been trained to be really, really good students to make it into high read. And I think there’s a, there’s a movement or a change into becoming those lifelong learners and helping our students to become lifelong learners. And I think that shift into more formative assessments is, is really key to know about changing and growing and a tuning your, your essay writing or whatever it is to make it better along the way, rather than just to be judged, or evaluated. You can you can learn in the process.
Dr. Tracie Addy 41:15
Yeah, and it helps also, it aligns with the growth mindset model, right, where we can continue to have this practice right over time, and we can, you know, get better rather than just this in thing where I’m like, Oh, I didn’t get it. Yeah, so I guess, right, right, right.
Lillian Nave 41:27
Yeah, I’m a failure. Yeah. Well, one other thing that you mentioned that I love, in the book, what inclusive instructors do is about reflection, and that’s very important in being an inclusive instructor. And you include a lot of reflection questions in your book. And I wanted to know if you can elaborate on why reflection is so important to becoming a more inclusive instructor.
Dr. Tracie Addy 41:54
Sure, reflection is important, regardless of you know, what we’re our occupation is right, when we reflect on who we are what we do, that’s actually going to help us think more deeply about what we can do or what we should do, what we’re doing well, etc. In the book, we do include those reflection questions very intentionally, because we wanted to ensure that we presented this information, but we wanted to have those reading it, apply it to their context. So if I was, you know, I’m an educational developer. So if I was in a setting where I could talk through those things, I would ask, you know, those questions, right, to those who are participating, but knowing that, you know, I can’t do that. But how can we embed this right still within the context of framework of a book and actually encourage that reflection? And this is so critical, because with Inclusive instruction, we also might not know what to ask, I mean, sometimes, you know, when we’re reflecting, it’s like, what do we reflect on? What am I supposed to be asking? What am I, you know, what am I supposed to be getting at here. So very intentionally, we put those questions in, so that there were really key moments and key principles and ideas around inclusion that could be grasped that they could grasp, right, those who are reading the book, or readers could grasp and actually reflect on those. And so we know that inclusive instruction in general is ongoing, right? It’s a continual process of reflection, because we never arrive, right? We never, you know, get to like being the most inclusive instructor like at the end point. Right? Yeah, we’re always going to be working hard at it. And so it is going to be growth. And so we wanted to show that like that reflection is growth. And this is a way we can grow by reflecting on it by thinking about it by inspiring discussion and conversation on it within our own personal context, but also within our institutions, too. So the the discussion questions go beyond the, you know, the person and they can also be applied in in group settings, right, as well, to really think about what other people are thinking about those questions, too.
Lillian Nave 43:59
Yeah, I’ve noted that the way my students learn, and the way I learned best is through that experiencial learning cycle. So you have to, you know, try something out. And then you reflect on it, you are, you know, try to figure out what went well, what didn’t, and then you’re ready to try it again. You know, tweak it, change it. And when I first heard about service learning, and civic engagement, I learned about how crucial that reflection process is that now I kind of think, is there even any learning without the reflection part, you can just sort of put it down on paper and say you pass the test, but unless we’ve had a chance to really look at what did I learn how did I learn it? And and how did I feel when I was learning it? I’ve asked my students to include their emotions, like I was surprised or this made me feel somewhat angry and I had to really work through that feeling, it’s just become a much more important part of my learning that I’m paying attention to that I never, ever would have said, when I was, you know, in high school or college, I would have thought that’s sort of weird. Or just a little touchy feely. And here I am now, thinking that’s the most important part of learning. I was critical. Yeah, well, I guess I’m reflecting now.
Dr. Tracie Addy 45:30
In in this moments, like, sometimes, you know, teaching, we have so many responsibilities right every day, and it’s so hard to take that time to reflect. So one of the things to think about with inclusion is that, like, let’s take that time and then the book, you know, we’re encouraging those to take that time to reflect to really think about these things. It’s not easy, you know, it’s important, as you mentioned, but it’s not easy always to find that, that that space to do it and have the habit forming.
Lillian Nave 45:56
Right, yeah. And it takes a lot of humility to to say, Oh, my, I had the I had that projector off wouldn’t whatever that means. That my students couldn’t access it, I, I did not do that. And here’s something that I can do that’s going to be more helpful for my students. That’s, that’s not a barrier to them. So, so if an instructor is listening to this podcast out there and interested in becoming a more inclusive instructor, what is your best advice? Where do you suggest someone would start?
Dr. Tracie Addy 46:31
That’s a great question. So I would say start small. So start with changing one thing in your class, and really think about those your goals, like think about your class, or do that reflection piece, and what area would be really, you know, something you really want to work on. So let’s say like, I just want to work on, you know, equitable participation, okay, in my class, so do a few, you know, get a few resources, you know, think about ways in which you know, that could, you could do that in your in your class, whatever you choose, and then try it out, try it in a small scale trial and one class and see how it’s working. I’d also say, get some feedback from your students as well. So that, you know, you know, their perspectives also on how it’s working. So one of the things I think about inclusive instruction is it can look in so many different ways, right, like, so whether we use different frameworks, UDL, culturally responsive teaching, you know, whatever ones resonate with us. And you know, that we can pull from elements of, we don’t want to also just get overwhelmed and say, we have to do all of these things. Right, right. In my class to be inclusive, it’s not the case, right? We can take small steps. And so I would say, start there, to any instructor who was new, or trying wanted to try something out, take that risk, right? And then, you know, see how that goes, improve it, get the feedback, and then try something else. So just go through this process of, you know, continued awareness of like, wow, there’s things I could do better, right, like, like thinking about your class and how you’re teaching. And then just taking little small, small steps, we really don’t need to change the entire, you know, class like to make it more inclusive, there’s small things we can do we talk about that a lot in their book that can build, you know, an inclusive environment.
Lillian Nave 48:21
You know, I think our students can pick up on those things to just that small intention, if they read that syllabus and see that you’re earnestly and honestly trying to include all the students, and that humility to say, hey, I want to make this a space for everybody. If there’s any chance that I’ve messed up, or I could use some, you know, direction, or you can, you know, you have any suggestions, you know, I’d be willing to listen, that student voice, you know, like, I can’t access these, you know, these assignments, or this is something that’s getting in the way of my learning. I mean, just being open, gives us a lot of room to that, rather than aloof and far away and a large power distance. being approachable has has been a big change for me. And, of course, it’s different for everybody. When I was first starting out, I didn’t want to be approachable. I wanted them to think they couldn’t question me because I was not sure I knew enough in order to teach when I was first starting out. But sure, sure. So I think it depends where we are on that continuum, but being able to seek the voices of our students is I think, going to be helpful and in how we create this equitable environment and an inclusive environment to make sure we are serving our students. Well. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, um, that you have really whetted my appetite to again to dig into more of the book. And I know you have lots and lots of practical strategies there. So I’ll definitely have a link to the book. And you also mentioned a study, which I think just came out recently. Yeah,
Dr. Tracie Addy 50:13
we have a few studies that came out, that’s one of them. And then there’s another one on student partnership, we will have our whose in class form study come out as well, and hopefully in the near future, but I can give you the link to those also, groups that you know, come out.
Lillian Nave 50:27
Yes, so I’ll have the links in our resources section for the webpage and people can find them there. And I just want to say thank you so much for spending your time with me Tracie and, and sharing your knowledge with me and all my listeners.
Dr. Tracie Addy 50:41
My pleasure, thank you.
Lillian Nave 50:42
You can follow the Think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the think udl.org website. The think UDL podcast is made possible by College STAR the star stands for supporting transition, access and retention in post secondary settings, and the website provides free resources and instructional aides based on UDL principles. If you’d like to know more, go to the college star.org website. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw in Appalachia. The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell and Jose Cochez our sound engineer is Tanner Jones and I am your host, Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on The Think UDL podcast.