Does the “D” in EdD stand for “Diversity?” We think so!

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

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.

Additional Authors

Dr. Tony L. Talbert is a Professor of Social/Cultural Studies Education and Qualitative Research in the School of Education at Baylor University. Dr. Talbert refers to his field of research and teaching as Education As Democracy which integrates social/cultural, diversity, and democracy education into a focused discipline of qualitative and ethnographic inquiry examining school and community stakeholder empowerment through activist engagement in political, economic, and social issues. Dr. Talbert’s thirty-three (33) years as an educator has included teaching, research and service in public schools, universities, governmental and corporate institutions. Dr. Talbert began his career in education as a public school history and government teacher where he applied his previous training as a stage actor by engaging his students in the exploration of the human story by integrating the students’ own lived experiences with the historic drama and comedy that encompassed the lives of the characters and events being studied. As a high school history/government teacher Dr. Talbert earned a Master of Arts degree in American Studies at Baylor University. While a public school teacher he became a popular invited speaker at several national conferences where he showcased such creative teaching seminars as He Ain’t Crazy Mama He’s My History Teacher and Thinking Thoughts That Need to Be “Thunk”. After seven years as a high school teacher, Dr. Talbert was asked to serve as an Education Specialist with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) where he facilitated professional development opportunities for educators statewide and nationally. After two years with the TEA Dr. Talbert was recruited to serve as the Executive Director of the Sam Houston State University Center for Professional Development where he was provided the opportunity to collaborate with public school and university educators and students in the exploration and application of cutting-edge digital technology integration into curriculum and pedagogy. During this time Dr. Talbert earned his Doctor of Education Degree in Cultural/Social Studies and Qualitative Research at The University of Houston. Upon earning his Ed.D. Dr. Talbert combined his passion for creative teaching with his highly developed skills as a qualitative researcher and began his career in academia with a commitment to fully integrating the scholarship of discovery with the scholarship of teaching. During his twenty-five (25) year career as a university educator, Dr. Talbert has held or holds the position of Professor, Associate Dean, Department Chair, Graduate Program Director, and Assistant Department Chair at such institutions as Sam Houston State University, Mississippi State University, The University of Houston, and since 2002 Baylor University. During his career Dr. Talbert has published over forty-five peer-reviewed books, chapters, and articles, presented more than eighty-five peer-reviewed and invited research presentations, collaboratively obtained in excess of $2.8 million in funded research, served as the chair and methodologist for over one-hundred masters and doctoral theses and dissertations, served as associate editor and editorial review board member for several academic and professional publications, and has been elected to leadership roles for several professional organizations. In 2013 Dr. Talbert decided that it had been far too long since he had been fully immersed in the real world of teaching. Therefore, he submitted an application to Baylor University for a research sabbatical and returned after more than a twenty year absence to the high school classroom where he taught World history to one-hundred and sixty-six tenth grade students. His experiences have been captured in both academic journal and popular press articles and will be the subject of a book in the future. Most recently Dr. Talbert was named as the recipient of the 2014 McGraw-Hill Distinguished Scholar Award for his contributions to qualitative research in the field of education. Dr. Talbert is pleased to discuss and offer consulting services in qualitative research design and analysis; social/cultural studies education (e.g., democratic education, multicultural-diversity education, peace education), and, public education policy and practice. Dr. Talbert can be reached via email at and/or

Extended Abstract



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. 


Participants will: 

  • 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.