Final Reflection

Although I have taken a diversity course during undergrad, which offered a lot on changing my perspective as a whole, this course offered more on diversity in the context of education. Given my prior knowledge it was easier connect with the course content. The biggest takeaway I had from the course was the impact of political decisions on educational institutions and how heavily decisions are influenced by dominate groups. Before, I was aware of the politics within the education system, however, I was unaware of the bias which soiled the system. Starting as a new teacher, I have come into this profession with the mindset of creating equal opportunities for all my students, spreading awareness of social justice issues, and creating a classroom environment which is responsive to the needs of individual students. It is disheartening to know that many institutions struggle with diversity issues, still today. Additionally, I was unaware that social justice standards existed. Although the world in which we live is not a perfect one, I am glad I have the tools to teach my students about social justice issues, so that they can make a difference.

Thank you for a lovely semester!

Alexis DeRitis

Stereotype Threat

Infographic: https://www.easel.ly/infographic/sn6z7a

Stereotype threat is an invisible pressure placed upon a person when they are at risk of confirming a stereotype for which they fall under. As Steele explains, “When people… are in a situation for which a negative stereotype about their group is relevant, they can feel stereotype threat; they can feel under pressure not to confirm the stereotype for fear that they will be judged or treated in terms of it” (2010, p.89). As result, the persons performance and abilities pertaining to the matter and negatively impacted.

            In a classroom context, the student’s academic abilities are impacted, as they begin to exert extraneous effort; Vivaldi calls this, “over-efforting” (2010, P.105). His studies suggest that the over-efforting and resulting academic underperformance, is caused by stereotype threat.

He states,

“Frustration on these tasks makes the stereotype personally relevant as a plausible explanation for why they are having the frustration. It threatens them with the fear of confirming the negative stereotype, which causes distracting emotion and thoughts. Performance gets worse. The risk of confirming the stereotype gets worse. A vicious cycle ensues” (2010, p.108).

 It is the responsibility of the teacher to reduce stereotype threats in the classroom environment. Vivaldi describes an intervention study in his text, the study found that, “stereotyped students consistently got better subsequent grades than non-stereotyped students with the same prior test scores or grades” (2010, p.187). Teachers must make a conscious effort to use strategies which eliminate or lessen the effects of stereotype threat. Essentially, they are responsible for creating a safe space for students to feel valued as individuals. Thus, the stereotype threat is combated. Part of this responsibility includes avoiding using assessments which are culturally biased.  A culturally biased test is considered, “a test that yields clear and systematic differences among the results of the test-takers. Typically, test biases are based on group membership of the test-takers, such as gender, race and ethnicity” (Hurst, 30 seconds). However, classroom teachers who use strategies to work against stereotype threat, will most likely eliminate the possibility of biased assessment as result of their efforts.

References

Hurst, Melissa. (2003-2010). Testing Bias, Cultural Bias, & Language Differences in Assessment. Retrieved at https://study.com/academy/lesson/testing-bias-cultural-bias-language-differences-in-assessments.html#/lesson

Steele, Claude. M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect us and What we can do. W.W. Norton, New York.

Digital Citizenship

            The digital age is a time that has begun and transformed faster than it was established. In other words, technology has come about and is developing at an unforeseen rate. Therefore, younger generations are born into a digital world, and most have a difficult time imagining their lives without such technologies. As educators, it is imperative that we begin to evolve education with the transforming digital world around us.

            Although the way in which we communicate is evolving, that does not mean the communication itself is changing. If anything, it has become increasingly easier to open discussions around kindness, just as it has become easier to spread hate. Technology has not brought hate into the world, rather it has changed the platform for which it is spread. Teaching children empathy is not a new concept, however, the way in which we teach empathy has changed. It is imperative for educators to inform their students on digital responsibility and teach them empathy as well as kindness, through a new context. Specifically, we are teaching students the same ethical values and behaviors we want to see in a citizen, that we also want to see in a digital citizen.

One teacher shares their view in a blog post on “The Teaching Factor,”
“Digital citizenship is an ongoing lesson that needs to be addressed every year with every student. Social media is not going away, blocking websites in schools or telling students they cannot use phones is not a realistic solution. These events have helped me to look more closely at the role that social media plays in our lives and how I can promote positive digital behavior in my classroom, so all of my students use their digital powers for good.”

            With consideration to technology being a worldwide connection, the current practices in teaching digital citizenship vary and there are several issues with digital citizenship which complicate the topic. However, I believe just as any other subject students are learning, it is important to build on prior knowledge and previous experiences. For example, students cannot understand how to be safe online, without first understanding the violence or potential dangers that they may encounter. Since the issues with digital citizenship are branched around the same idea, they may be taught in a manner that connects the ideas and provides students with opportunity for in depth learning (Infographic). The current framework for such curriculum in the United States follows the ISTE standards and was designed to “empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world.” Overall, the digital world is a fast evolving and complicated universe but given the appropriate tools our students will be able to engage in digital affairs just as they would in the physical world.

O’Neill, B., Council of Europe, Soriani, A., Tomé, V., & Frau-Meigs, D. (2017). Digital Citizenship Education: Volume 1: Overview and New Perspectives. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Unknown. (2018). Teaching Digital Responsibility in the Age of Online Hate. The Teaching Factor.

Infographic. Issues with Digital Citizenship.