Toward creating a fully accessible, inclusive, and trauma sensitive learning environment in an online introductory geoscience course

Wednesday 2:05 PT / 3:05 MT / 4:05 CT / 5:05 ET Online


Kat Cantner, Minneapolis Community and Technical College

We've navigated the transition to an online environment. We've heard the call to arms for equity and diversity, for the decolonization of science, and for increasing accessibility. What do you tackle first? How do you objectively assess your own courses? This presentation provides a framework for course assessment and outlines numerous pathways toward a more equitable learning environment for all students.

I will review the effect of trauma on learning and demonstrate methods for mitigating these effects through course website design. I will share examples of incorporating student experiences into coursework, place-based learning, supporting student communication pathways, and anti-oppression grading practices. We will explore the importance of increased scaffolding and multimodal content in online learning and discuss how backwards course design supports the creation of fully accessible course content. Lastly, I suggest methods for course assessment and paths forward through incremental change.

These methods were developed in response to teaching two semesters of Physical Geology at Minneapolis Community and Technical College during the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The students include Black, Indigenous, LatinX, LGTBQIA+, first generation, and ESL students as well as students with no vision, auditory processing disorders, students experiencing mental health disorders, addiction, hospitalization, and the death of their friends and family members. Course assessment and redesign are ongoing as students continue to provide feedback and encouragement.

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