IDEA FIT 2016: Inaugural Faculty Institute on Facilitating Inclusion in the Classroom

Seventeen Washington University faculty from the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Medicine participated in The Teaching Center’s first Faculty Institute on Teaching (FIT) focused on inclusion in the classroom: Inclusion and Diversity to Engage All, or IDEA FIT. The institute, which took place May 25-26, 2016, drew participants from the Departments of Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Emergency Medicine, Environmental Studies, History, Occupational Therapy, Physics, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Center for Interprofessional Practice & Education.

IDEA FIT provided an opportunity for cross-disciplinary learning and conversation about how best to create and maintain learning environments that challenge and engage all students. The multidisciplinary aspect of the institute reflected the broad-based interest among faculty at Washington University in developing and integrating teaching approaches that can not only help students learn in diverse groups, but also harness the power of divergent ideas and perspectives to advance knowledge across the disciplines.

The institute included interactive workshops on topics including understanding and responding to bias and stereotypes, facilitating challenging conversations, promoting a growth mindset, and designing inclusive course materials. It culminated, moreover, in a “Gallery Walk” in which multidisciplinary groups of faculty presented the inclusive-teaching approaches that they had developed in their working groups. Projects included Academic and Social Belonging in General Chemistry, Race, Class, and Gender in St. Louis Urbanization, and A Syllabus Template for Introductory Courses.

In addition to the ideas presented at the Gallery Walk, IDEA FIT spurred interest by participants in the formation of a learning community focused on inclusive teaching and learning, to meet periodically during the 2016-2017 academic year. If you are a WashU faculty member who is interested in joining this group, please contact me. The group will be open to all faculty; participation in IDEA FIT is not a “prerequisite.”