Does the “D” in EdD stand for “Diversity?” We think so!
Concurrent Session 6
Interested in supporting a diverse student population? The student population of our online program reflects considerably more racial, generational, and professional diversity than our university’s broader demographics. We will share the systems we developed to support the diverse student body in an online setting, including mentorship from program staff and individualized writing support from a departmental writing center.
Session Topic and Relevance
Educational systems often view diverse populations from a cultural deprivation paradigm. According to Banks (2013) cultural deprivation theorists view individuals from low socio-economic and diverse backgrounds as having cognitive deficits and that “learning problems of low-income students result primarily from the cultures in which they are socialized” (p.75). In contrast to this perspective, our program is grounded in viewing our diverse student population from an asset-based perspective and we view “cultural differences as assets; creating caring learning communities where culturally different individuals and heritages are valued” (Gay, 2010, p. 31).
As a part of this presentation, presenters will briefly highlight the positive contributions and the benefits of having rich and varied perspectives, experiences, and values within the program.
As a program we recognize that historical inequities in the education system have perpetuated opportunity gaps for many of our students (Cantwell & Taylor, 2019). In an effort to combat these opportunity gaps, presenters will share program supports that have been established for these students.
The students we serve are dynamic individuals who are passionate about improving the world in which they live. This is consistent across all of the scholars in our program and makes for lively online discussions and collaborations.
Our students are also extremely diverse - within and across cohorts and in comparison to our university’s demographics. While most of our students are female, we have a growing group of male students enrolled in our program. The racial diversity is vast, including students who are African American, Mexican, American Indian, and White. Our students range in age from 23 to 61, and we serve students who work in the fields of education, healthcare, the military, and much more. Additionally, many of our students are the first in their generation to pursue an advanced degree while others have a lineage of ancestors with doctoral degrees.
We have developed systems to support all of our students so that they graduate with the confidence and expertise to reach their professional goals. One strand of this support is in how we monitor each student’s progress in each course. We have implemented a formal grade check halfway through the semester so that we can reach out to the students who seem to be struggling. We have created a Student of Concern form so that any of the 22 faculty teaching within our program can immediately share concerns they have about a student. In this session we will share the specifics of these tools as well as how we consistently use them to support our students.
We also have a Writing Center that is dedicated to supporting the students in our program. Since students enter our program with a wide range of writing comforts and proficiencies, we are intentional to craft individualized writing development plans for each student. Our consultants are intentional to approach the process in a non-judgemental way. They identify where the student is and what steps the student can take to grow as a writer.
Knowing that adult students may have a strong aversion to math class after 15+ years of being out of the classroom, we completely redesigned our Statistics curriculum to offer a softer re-introduction to the course. In addition to working toward understanding our population in this way, we offer complimentary private and group tutoring for Statistics and other courses as well.
We know that diversity and inclusion are often discussed together, but are two entirely different concepts. Verna Meyers, an activist and expert in diversity and inclusion, says that “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” In an effort to detect ways in which we have “asked our students to dance,” we gathered data from students who met one or more criteria for diversity.
In this session, we will describe the steps we took to gather and analyze the data and will share our findings. More importantly, we will provide recommendations for inclusivity based on the results of our study.
Format of Session
While the presenters share their strategies and findings, there will be an opportunity for participants to submit questions in an online format. These questions will be addressed throughout the session and will guide the conversation around diversity and inclusion.
Plan of interactivity
This session will involve a number of interactive elements whereby participants will work directly with program documents, watch videos of program practices, and hear from students and faculty involved in the program. Using a variety of technological tools, such as mentimeter and slido, participants will have the opportunity to not only learn about our program, but also to consider how to apply these ideas to their own programs.
Connect with audience members using a pair and share activity
View student breakdown of diversity areas
Brainstorm ways in which our success can be applied to their programs
Learn about our systems for student support including processes
See unique student profiles from our population
Key Takeaways for Participants
Participants will leave with an understanding of the issues and differences between diversity and inclusion. They will learn specific strategies for supporting diverse students within a doctoral program and will have an opportunity to engage in a scholarly conversation about the topic.
Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.).
New York: Teachers College Press.
Banks, J. A. (2003). The construction and historical development of multicultural education,
1962-2012. Theory into Practice, 52, 73-82.
Cantwell, B., Taylor, B. J. (2019). Unequal Higher Education: Wealth, Status, and Student
Opportunity. (n.p.): Rutgers University Press.