Checklist: Diversity sensitive content

This guide serves as a checklist for instructors and lecturers to take into account diversity sensitive learning content while planning their teaching content, when interacting with students or in giving assignments.

Planning your content

  • Integrate material on gender/race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, national/cultural identity, etc., throughout the course.  Don’t confine a diversity aspect to a single section of your syllabus.
  • Check your terminology, language and basic disciplinary concepts: do they reflect the diverse student body and the current multicultural societal environment?
  • Avoid easy generalizations. Know the purpose of your approach (macro vs. micro level).
    For example: Do you wish to compare cultures and their typical behavioral patterns or study intercultural encounters on the “grassroot” level?
  • Include diverse voices: Be open for multiple experiences and introduce different perspectives of your topic. Question assumptions of centrality and present globally alternative theories and approaches.
  • Avoid presenting the examples as wholly representative of a culture.
  • Avoid “othering” – defining a person through imagined often negative characteristics of a particular group
  • Include diversity within regions, focus on selected themes across a few chosen regions.
  • Visualize your material by including diverse people (age, gender, cultural background, social class, disabilities etc.)

Interacting with students

  • Consider a model in which instructor and students are co-inquirers: In this setting, culture(s) are understood as dynamic “doing together”, being evolved in interaction and also shaped by other social group characteristics such as age, gender, power etc.. Thus, studying and interpreting together how these dynamics evolve will provide wider perspectives into understanding culture(s).
  • Vary pedagogical processes so that a range of approaches are utilized to cater for diverse learners
  • Make students significant sources of knowledge for each other
  • Aim at deeper understanding of various voices and experiences by careful listening
  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Avoid academic jargon or difficult terminology without explanations. Use microphones as appropriate.
  • Suspend your judgement, do not stereotype your students beforehand
  • Do not assume students’ self-identities or belongingness to certain groups

Giving assignments

  • Make assignments methodologically more diverse. Discuss, what and how cultural phenomena can be approached in order to learn about the from more diverse perspectives.
  • Aim at clear guidance, allow additional clarifications.
  • Encourage students to include material from diverse perspectives, ask inclusive questions, to use different approaches, and to think in a variety of ways.
  • Allow use of and point out alternative and non-traditional sources. For example, ask your diverse students to provide sources from their country of origin.
  • When setting return deadlines, respect diverse life situations (e.g. religious holidays, care responsibilities, school holidays)

Source: The checklist is based on the Dominican University’s Diversity Faculty Guide