Equitizing Higher Ed through Humanized Online Teaching

Workshop Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

We will explore why supporting the non-cognitive factors of learning in online courses is critical to increasing graduation rates for students from minoritized groups, particularly in STEM. You will receive a tour of a humanizing PD course in use in the CA Community Colleges, learn how PD is creating change in STEM instruction across California, and receive a toolkit of humanized online teaching practices.


Michelle Pacansky-Brock (@brocansky) has received two Sloan-C/OLC awards for her online teaching effectiveness and served as Chair of the 2015 Sloan-C/OLC Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium (ET4OL). She is the author of Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies, in its second edition with Routledge, and is currently serving the California Community Colleges as Faculty Mentor for Online Teaching and Learning with CVC-OEI/@ONE. Michelle is also researching the impact of humanized online instruction to improve equity gaps in online STEM courses with grant funding from the California Education Learning Lab.

Extended Abstract

This workshop will explore why supporting the non-cognitive factors of learning -- a hallmark of face-to-face community college teaching -- in online courses is critical to increasing graduate rates for students from minoritized groups. Together, we will see examples of humanized online teaching practices that accomplish this examine why it is particularly important in lower division online STEM courses. Participants will leave the workshop with toolkit of humanized online teaching practices that improve the productive academic mindset of students and encourage students to commit themselves at a higher level, resulting in increased engagement and success.

Online courses are critical to supporting first generation college students and students of color achieve their academic goals. However, students from minoritized groups are less likely to succeed online than white and Asian students. In the California Community College system in 2016-17, 51% of online students were underrepresented minority (URM) students. However, while the statewide online success rate was 66%, the success rate for Black students was about 15% lower and for Hispanic students it was about 6% lower (CCC Chancellor’s Office, 2017).

These equity gaps are concerning for many reasons, including their impact on the future workforce, particularly the diversity of those who enter STEM careers. Unsuccessful learning experiences in STEM courses, especially early on in a student’s academic career, can be particularly consequential for URM students: a black student who withdraws or fails his/her introductory STEM course had a 67% chance of not earning a Bachelor’s degree, compared to a 47.9% chance for a white student (Chen and Soldner, 2013). As a result, the United States’ inability to achieve STEM workforce diversity goals can be largely attributed to the failure of the academic pathway to maintain a steady flow of underrepresented minority students (Estrada et al., 2016).

To address this complex problem, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District (FHDA) and California Virtual Campus-Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI), has been awarded a $1.3 million, 3-year grant from the California Education Learning Lab to initiate a systemic shift in the culture of online and hybrid STEM teaching across the three systems of California public higher education (CCC, CSU, and UC). The grant project will scale a large-scale online professional development (PD) program, the Humanizing Academy, across all three systems and will result in the development of evidence-based Open Educational Resources (OERs) to support faculty development.