Edubytes: Emerging trends in higher education
Welcome to the April 2019 edition of the Edubytes newsletter. Edubytes features articles that focus on emerging trends and innovations in teaching and learning in higher education.

This month, we will be exploring inclusive teaching, which is also the theme of UBC Vancouver's annual week-long showcase of teaching and learning opportunities, Celebrate Learning Week (April 29 - May 5). You are invited to join us for a variety of events focused on inclusive teaching, including:
Our guest editors, Hanae Tsukada, PhD, and Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, PhD, have curated the first part of this edition of Edubytes. Hanae is an educational consultant for the Student Diversity Initiative, who works with the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT). Hélène is an educational strategist for the Student Diversity Initiative, who works for the Equity & Inclusion Office in partnership with CTLT.

If you have any suggestions on higher education trends you would like to read more about in future editions of Edubytes, feel free to contact us at We would love to hear your thoughts.

Inclusive TeachingGuest editors: Hanae Tsukada and Hélène Frohard-Dourlent

As more and more research shows that diverse groups produce better ideas, discoveries, and solutions to real-life challenges, universities are increasingly focused on creating a culture of belonging for diverse students and instructors. An important practical component of this shift is inclusive teaching.

This umbrella term is used to describe many different approaches that consider how equity, diversity, and inclusion can be incorporated into teaching and learning. Inclusive teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students feel a connection to the course material, and a sense of belonging in all aspects of the learning experience. It is increasingly gaining influence across disciplines, from STEM to the humanities.

An underlying goal of inclusive teaching is to upend the ways that systemic inequities around race, gender, and other axes of difference operate in teaching-learning spaces. 

Podcast: Inclusive Pedagogy 

“We are not teaching content. We are teaching students.” In this Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, Professor Sylvia Kane, Director of Education at Vanguard University, explains how inclusive pedagogy has informed her teaching style. She asks what knowledge, experiences, and assets do students themselves bring to their learning processes? How can instructors build upon students’ unique assets in order to help them excel? Kane also shares how the process of learning more about her students’ backgrounds and everyday lives has enabled her to become a more effective instructor.

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Building Diversity in Science, One Interaction at a Time

Why do Latinx, Black and Indigenous people make up a disproportionately small number of science professor positions at North American universities and what are the outcomes of this? This Undark article discusses how the everyday experiences of marginalization, which affect racialized students and women in science classroom settings, may be derailing their careers in science. Incorporating inclusive teaching principles into STEM classrooms can help address the crux of this problem: a non-inclusive culture where success requires leaving one’s humanity and identity at the door.

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Building a More Inclusive Curriculum

While “diversifying” or “decolonizing” learning have been increasingly high priority goals for universities, this process involves more than just adding diverse perspectives to existing curriculum. Rather, it requires building a university-wide “diversity infrastructure” on the part of deans, administrators, faculty councils and instructors, with the outcome being a stronger, more supportive institution. In this Dal News article, professors from Dalhousie University and Simon Fraser University explain how diversifying curriculum has important implications both within the classroom and beyond.

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Faculty Beliefs About Intelligence Predict Racial Achievement Gaps in STEM Classes reports that a recent study has shown that professors’ beliefs about intelligence play a major role in the success of all students, but especially for underrepresented students taking their first college-level STEM courses. Racialized students in particular earn significantly higher grades in STEM courses when their professors believe intelligence is “malleable” and can be developed over time, rather than something that students innately either have or do not have. This study has important implications for inclusive teaching, providing specific tips for increasing student success while potentially helping close racial achievement gaps.

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Dechinta ‘Bush University’ Eyes Expansion with 5 Years of Federal Funding

Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning demonstrates the possible outcomes when inclusive teaching philosophy and practice foreground Indigenous land-based knowledge. This CBC News article features UBC professor Glen Coulthard, who sits on the board of directors and faculty for Dechinta, explaining the deep engagement with various communities within all aspects of curriculum and delivery that inform the Centre’s approach to learning. The federal government’s recent $13 million grant to diversify its programming sends a powerful message about the future of diverse inclusive teaching pedagogies in Canada. 

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April 2019 Edubytes roundup

Do Universities Put Too Much Weight on Student Evaluations of Teaching?

This University Affairs article explores the history of using student evaluations of teaching in Canadian universities as an indicator of teaching quality and presents a discussion of the various faculty concerns around this practice. As research becomes more clear about the limitations of using student evaluations as an indicator of effective instruction and the potential for bias, universities are beginning to explore alternative approaches for using the feedback from student evaluations and developing more nuanced approaches for assessing instructor quality. As the article explains, “Setting a standard around good teaching, accepting what can and cannot be measured, and understanding the biases of students and faculties all give universities much to examine.”

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Royal Roads Joins MITx MicroMasters Pathway Program

Royal Roads University has announced a partnership with MIT that will allow students completing one of three MITx Micromasters programs on edX to receive credit towards a Master’s Degree at Royal Roads. Students can pursue MITx Micromasters certificates in Supply Chain Management, Principles of Manufacturing or Data, Economics and Development Policy, from which they can transfer up to nine credits towards a Masters of Business Administration in Executive Management.

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When Grading Less is More 

This Inside Higher Ed article presents several professors’ reflections on their experiments with “ungrading,” which has sparked renewed interest in this student-centred assessment practice. They view that “grades aren’t necessarily a good measure of student learning.” Many scholars express the positive sides of the self-reflective evaluation by students. The ungrading approach can be integrated into any context or discipline. Unlike the K-12 educators who often share their teaching experiences, post-secondary educators tend to think they are on their own. As the article cites, “If ungraders need better networks and professional development opportunities,... we (educators) need to push hard on the culture of assessment - the reduction of students and their work to data points - that has taken root across so much of education.”

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