A Graduate Student Look at Inclusion

An engineering associate dean mentors a student

Partners across the University of Iowa (UI) community are working together to help support the needs of graduate students n developing teaching skills, improving research and learning, and having a stronger understanding of diversity and inclusion.  

One UI strategy includes utilizing the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CITRL). CIRTL’s mission focuses on evidence-based practices to advance effective teaching practices and competencies used in better supporting underrepresented learners. CITRL’s three-tier model of teaching development to encourage progression from associate to practitioner to scholar is one of the main components being used by UI.

During the 2017-18 academic year Sarah Larsen, associate dean for Academic and Administrative Affairs in the UI Graduate College, and Tonya Peeples, associate dean for Diversity and Outreach in the UI College of Engineering, implemented CIRTL diversity -focused work supported through the CIRTL INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot (DDLP) funded by the National Science Foundation. The DDLP was created to “develop STEM faculty, for all sectors of postsecondary education, able to use and adapt evidence-based, inclusive teaching, mentoring and advising practices that yield increased success of [students who are from groups historically marginalized in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics].” The two-year project officially ended in March 2018. Drs. Larsen and Peeples are documenting the year’s success and awaiting the outcomes of the full proposal for the National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty (NAIDSF). 

The Office of Graduate Inclusion has also been working with partners to create levels of skill building trainings available to graduate students that meet the competencies desired to be effective and inclusive faculty members. In fall 2017, graduate student leaders received a seed grant from the Chief Diversity Office (CDO), which invited Intergroup Dialogue trainers to campus to educate about awareness, privilege, and classroom best practices. As an extension of the grant, the team of graduate students hopes to partner with the CDO to provide large-scale Intergroup Dialogue training. This project is in its early stages, but those involved will continue to build on this work in the 2018-19 academic year.

Also new to campus is a certificate program for graduate students led by the Center for Teaching and Learning. This certificate includes trainings that are connected to campus-wide professional development opportunities, such as the Building University of Iowa Leadership for Diversity (BUILD) certificate program. This past year, graduate students were invited to an exclusive BUILD course on Challenging Conversations in the Classroom.

Expect to see an increase in opportunities this year as these student-led graduate programs develop to create more training and mentorship opportunities or all to complete their degrees and succeed.