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Should We Be Teaching Differently?

Generally students from under-represented groups do not seem to require any different strategies for effective teaching/learning.

But the emphasis is on effective rather than different.

PER has provided a number of strategies that promote effective teaching/learning.

All of these are student-centered, emphasize constructive learning, and most are communal-based.

However, there are certain techniques and perspectives that can benefit al students but particularly those who are at risk (not only from under-represented groups).

Play theory provides a set of meta-guidelines to begin to structure a learning environment and there are additional insights provided by optimal psychology (popularly known as flow) for in-depth assessment.

M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perrenial, New York, 1990).

M.W. Smith & J.D. Wilhelm, Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men (Heinemann Portsmouth, NH, 2002).

Burciaga, Juan R.,Designing Inclusive Learning Environments Using Play Theory, PERC 2013

Additional strategies for at risk students at the introductory level are found elsewhere. A good article with which to start is

Strategies to Improve the Performance of Minority Students in the Sciences
Lillian C. McDermott, Mark L. Rosenquist, Emily H. van Zee
Teaching Minority Students, 1983
Editors: James H. Cones, John Noonan, Denise Janha

And an application to the physics laboratory is in

A Journey into Inquiry, Research, and Social Community in the Introductory Physics Laboratory: A Short Course in Experimental Philosophy
Juan R. Burciaga
Conference on the Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at the Liberal Arts Colleges
St. Olaf College/Carlton College, 2004

Alternatively, faculty can begin to model the preparation and delivery of those faculty who are successful while working in a diverse classroom.

The following list is an example of the characteristics that faculty may wish to consider as they begin working with a diverse group of students.

Characteristics of Effective Teachers in a Diverse Classroom

Acknowledging the Learning Style of Diverse Student Populations: Implications for Instructional Design
James Anderson, Maurianne Adams
Teaching for Diversity, (Jossey-Bass, 1992)
Editors: Laura Border, Nancy van Note Chism