GCCIS: Creating an Effective and Inclusive Learning Environment
Dates: Thursday, August 22, 2019; Tuesday, August 27, 2019; Tuesday, September 10, 2019
This three part series was designed to support the GCCIS software engineering department in creating a vibrant learning environment their students. There were three different sessions each geared towards the senior design coaches, faculty, and first-year students in the SE department, respectively.
The first session was designed for coaches and sponsors who work with our SE senior-year students within their final design course to create a vibrant learning environment that respects and values all individuals. This session first used gender related statistics and challenges that women face in the technical field for bias training and then built from this to provide practical instruction on how to implement a vibrant learning environment for their students. Learning objectives included using constructive feedback to encourage students to succeed, making a positive and encouraging atmosphere, and focusing on overcoming challenges that hinder the creation of a vibrant learning environment. Facilitators were Professors Margaret Bailey (KGCOE) and Carol Marchetti (COS/Math).
Over 30 individuals attended this workshop, with positive reflections based on the surveys. Participants commented on their willingness to “encourage students to help identify challenging issues related to vibrant learning environments” and “be more patient and take more time to listen when someone has an issue”. Overall, this session encouraged great conversation and thoughts on how to achieve a vibrant learning environment for the SE senior design project course.
The second session was directed towards the faculty to reinforce the department’s commitment to enhancing gender diversity and inclusion among all groups. As in the previous session, the goal was to encourage the faculty to think about how to implement a vibrant learning environment for the students, while also providing them with the necessary resources and tools.
The last session was specifically designed for first year SE students to engage in their thinking about what type of environment qualifies as vibrant, and what they want to see in their student group expereinces. Creating the most inclusive and engaging learning environment was shown through hands-on activities and statistics about the SE field. Learning objectives included setting ground rules, comparing vibrant environments to non-vibrant environments, becoming aware of unconscious biases, seeing how society has shaped the way we see women and minorities, and how to overcome challenges that arise from trying to create a vibrant learning environment.
Almost 100 students attended this session and the positive feedback was overflowing. This session inspired the students to think about their inner biases and what they want from their student groups. When asked how they may act differently as a result of participating in this session, many responded with their willingness to “be more aware of unconscious bias” and to “respect other’s knowledge and be a positive influence”. The student session stressed the importance of attitude and group communication to create an effective and inclusive learning environment.