Over three decades of research in a variety of disciplines demonstrates that when learning environments are designed to promote a sense of belonging and support for student learning, students are more likely to take advantage of campus resources to support their success, persist through challenges, and help close outcome gaps by group membership.
The Student Experience Project is drawing on this research base in the fields of social psychology, educational psychology, and brain science, along with feedback from students, and on the ground expertise from instructors, staff and administrators to develop practical approaches that instructors can use in their courses to bolster student engagement and increase equity in academic outcomes. This collection of evidence-based, field-tested resource guides outlines steps that instructors can take in their courses to: promote engagement, increase equity in students’ experiences of their learning environments, and support academic success.
While these resources can be used by individual instructors, early evidence from the Student Experience Project indicates that the change ideas are most effective when used collectively by groups of instructors in a community of practice. The SEP is currently developing a series of toolkits designed to support institutions in implementing change recommendations on a large scale. The first toolkit in the series, which focuses on course preparation and the first day of class, is scheduled to be released November 2021. If you are an administrator who is interested in access to our toolkits, please sign up here for the SEP Newsletter to be notified as resources become available.
Syllabus Review & Revision
Your syllabus is a powerful tool for course planning and development. Conducting a syllabus review provides instructors with a framework for creating a course that promotes equity in students’ experiences and outcomes in its structure and content throughout the term. By ensuring that the messages, policies, and practices included in course syllabi communicate a growth mindset about student potential, and promote a sense of belonging, course instructors have a powerful opportunity to support student achievement, foster well-being, and contribute to equity in education.
Syllabus Review Guide: A step-by-step guide for creating a syllabus (and course!) that promotes equity, belonging, and growth for all students
The resources included in this section provide general guidelines and evidence-based practices that can be used to design a course that promotes equity in students’ experiences and outcomes in its structure and content throughout the term.
Overview: Effective Social Belonging Messages: A foundational overview on how to craft messages that promote social belonging, why they work, and how to use them
Overview: Effective Growth Mindset Messages: A foundational overview on how instructors can convey a growth mindset, why they should, and how to use growth-mindset messaging
Policy Review: Creating Student-Centered Course Policies: A step-by-step guide for crafting course policies that promote equity and acknowledge and accommodate the lived experiences of diverse student populations
Establishing Expectations: A Growth Mindset Approach: Approaches for communicating about academic standards and course expectations in a way that promotes student engagement, learning, and academic success
Creating a Belonging Story: Guidance on developing and adapting a brief exercise to help students understand that belonging concerns in college are normal, and not a signal that they do not belong or cannot succeed
Encouraging Connections in the Classroom: Approaches for encouraging connections between students and the instructional team, and among students
The following evidence-based practices provide instructors with guidance on how to provide critical feedback in a way that promotes student engagement and learning.
Creating an Attuned Assessment Wrapper: Resources for developing a practice that helps students prepare for, and debrief, key assessments in a way that emphasizes potential for growth, connects to resources, and does not inspire identity threat
Creating a Wise Feedback Framing Statement: Guidance on delivering critical feedback in a way that engenders trust, increases academic engagement, and helps close academic outcome gaps
Helping Students Develop Self-Efficacy in Your Course: Approaches instructors can use to help bolster students' belief in their ability to do well in their current course
Supporting Self-Efficacy by Integrating Self-Relevance and a Sense of Purpose into Your Course: Approaches to help students see their coursework as relevant to their own experiences and their future goals
The following evidence-based practices provide recommendations for creating an inclusive classroom environment where students feel valued, respected, and as though they can reach their full potential.
Ensuring Classroom Identity Safety: Approaches for creating classroom learning environments where students from diverse identities feel welcome, valued, respected, and as though they are recognized as having the potential to succeed
Addressing an Identity Threatening Incident: Guidance on a straightforward and practical approach for addressing identity-threatening incidents in a way that promotes students’ identity safety and social belonging, and builds connection and trust
Supporting Financially Stressed Students: Recommendations for practices that can help support financially stressed students' learning, sense that they belong in college, and belief in their ability to succeed
The following is a list of references cited throughout the above-linked resources.
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