As we welcome our students and faculty back into the halls of the Kelley School of Business, we in the Marketing Department recommit ourselves to ensuring that each student is receiving an equal and impactful learning experience. Cultivating an inclusive climate allows students to feel valued for their differences and feel comfortable participating in class activities. It has also proven to increase student motivation and learning. Outlined here are some best practices our faculty are using to create a welcoming classroom environment.
Preferred Names and Pronouns
One way to support gender inclusivity in the classroom is by asking and using each person’s preferred pronouns and names. Here in the Marketing Department, we believe that faculty set the tone of inclusivity in the classroom, which is why they model strategies such as, introducing themselves with their preferred names and pronouns and encouraging students to do the same. Additionally, our faculty may include their preferred name and pronouns on class materials such as in their email signatures and syllabi, to continue modeling this behavior throughout the semester. Lastly, apologizing when misgendering someone and correcting others if they make the same mistake are other ways our faculty promote inclusivity in the classroom.
Model Inclusive Language
Another best practice we have adopted that goes hand-in-hand with respecting other’s preferred names and pronouns is using inclusive language. In the classroom, our faculty use gender-neutral language, by using terms like “everyone”, “people”, or “all” when referring to a group of people. They strive to speak in truly generic language because it shows respect to all students. Saying “winter/holiday break” instead of “Christmas Break”, “parent/guardian” instead of “mom/dad”, and “significant other” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend” are all examples of inclusive language. Incorporating these small reference changes into the classroom environment helps support a positive culture at the Kelley School of Business.
Use Multiple and Diverse Examples
Incorporating multiple and diverse examples allows for more students to connect with the content that is being discussed. So, our faculty make a point of using references that speak across gender, age, socioeconomic status, disability status, religion, culture, etc. to ensure they are not marginalizing students. Also, they choose content that is diverse in idea and perspective, allowing for our students to appreciate different perspectives, develop their own thoughts/beliefs, and draw stronger conclusions about the topic.
Regularly Examine Curriculum
Consistently examining curriculum is a technique the Marketing Department uses to create and maintain an inclusive classroom environment. At the end of each semester, students can submit anonymous feedback on a variety of aspects of the class. This evaluation is a great tool to measure if the best practices our faculty implement are effective and successful. Additionally, a benefit of regularly reviewing the curriculum is it helps ensure we are keeping up with the ever-changing world culture.
Set Expectations Early
Setting expectations early is very important for fostering an inclusive environment. As mentioned in the earlier stated best practices, sharing, and asking for each person’s preferred names and pronouns is a great way to set the tone for an inclusive classroom. A best practice many of our faculty apply to their syllabi is including a diversity statement. This direct communication shows our students that we are committed to creating a safe and supportive climate and will not tolerate it if they do not do the same. Also, the Marketing Department faculty share specific grading/rubric guidelines early, so students are aware of what is expected from them and helps ensure consistent grading across the class.
Why Implement these Best Practices?
Incorporating these best practices into the classroom environment allows our students to reach their highest potential. Here in the Marketing Department, we are dedicated to ensuring an equitable and inclusive experience for all students. The best practices of using preferred pronouns and names, modeling inclusive language, having multiple and diverse examples, regularly examining curriculum, and setting expectations early, help our students feel supported academically, mentally, and emotionally.