Module 1: Creating a Community of Learners

Diversity and Classroom Management:

Valuing Racial and Cultural Diversity


Community colleges continue to attract a rich mix of racially and culturally diverse students. These groups have traditionally been underrepresented in American higher education, and every effort should be made to help them complete college programs. Many educators believe that such students are much more likely to succeed when allowed to learn math, science, or technology in small working groups. Especially at the start of a course, these students might learn more if they are allowed to choose their own working groups.

Racism or cultural prejudice is often invisible to white instructors because they are not followed in stores, stopped by police when simply going for a walk, or made to jump through numerous hoops in order to secure a bank loan. Institutional manifestations of racism can reinforce an erroneous notion that some races are superior. Be careful to include examples from cultures other than Western European in your teaching.

Regardless of the racial and cultural range of your students, point out that when they are employed, they will be assigned to work with people they did not previously know. When placing students in teams, tell them to pretend they are "on the job" with teammates and other classmates as coworkers. This will greatly enhance their workplace readiness. Members of the class, most of whom will have had jobs in the past, can share their personal experiences of coworkers with fellow students. What made someone a bad coworker? A good coworker? How can they develop skills that can always put them in the "good" category? A student's ability to get along with teammates, communicate well with classmates, and bring out the best in the group will help ensure their success in the future.