Ways to Change Your Teaching Activities to Help Our Diverse Student Body to Thrive

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am Gordon: Sonata Meeting Room

Session Chairs

Gary Weissmann, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Roberto Ibarra, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Science and academia have a culture that can be challenging for students, particularly those from groups underrepresented in the STEM fields. This session will guide participants in supporting students and building a sense of community across cultures.


Why are we having difficulty attracting a diverse population of students to the geosciences? Are we doing things in our classrooms that inadvertently dissuade students from underrepresented groups to choose the geoscience major, and if they enter the field, are we supporting these students in a manner that helps them thrive? Does the academic and scientific "culture" act as a barrier for some students? This workshop will lead you through exercises to help you understand your cultural self and how this may affect your teaching, explore the Western scientific approach to knowing and doing, and learn about other ways of knowing and doing that may be important in different cultures. We will evaluate approaches to learning from different cultures, and explore things you can do in your classroom to broaden participation. The basis for much of the workshop will be Multicontext theory, and we will explore how this concept may be applied in your teaching. You may find that many of the approaches you already use enhance learning for all students, but Multicontext theory may explain why this is so.

Target Audience

The workshop is targeted for faculty and administrators who are interested in some potential reasons we have not attracted a diverse community in the geosciences, and explore things that can be done programmatically and in curricula to broaden the appeal of geosciences and help retain and support students once they choose the major.


When you complete this workshop, you will:

  • Recognize aspects of your personal cultural upbringing that may influence how you teach, your expectations in the classroom, and how students may learn from you;
  • Be able to evaluate aspects of your teaching that may be more conducive for different student populations using a contextual diversity model;
  • Be able to build classroom exercises that are conducive to Multicontextual learning.


We will use activities during the course of the workshop to help you explore cultural difference in our approaches to learning and science. Activities will include development of a cultural autobiography, exploration of context diversity concepts, and development of activities that you may use to approach Multicontextual learning.

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