Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Related people and/or projects: Implementing Remote Experiential Learning

Looking for ways to support students who finds learning in English challenging? Consider the Care and Culturally Reponsive Pedagogy.

The 14th University of Toronto Teaching and Learning Symposium hosted by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation focused on humanizing pedagogy, reflecting the past year of teaching online, and practices that we can keep for the post-pandemic era. There are two other blog posts on the symposium:

In the session, “The Efficacy of Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for at-Risk Students in Online Learning and Teaching” by Dr. Xiangying Huo and Dr. Elaine Khoo, they discussed the Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and how it is implemented through the Reading and Writing Excellence (RWE) Program at University of Toronto Scarborough. This pedagogy, along with the model of the RWE Program can be adapted to engineering education. A handout was shared during the session for attendees to collaborate on ideas about the Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. 

This post will introduce you to:

The RWE Program

The RWE program includes 40-min reading and 20-min writing each day and a 30-min tutor meeting every two weeks. The materials used for reading and writing are typically drawn from the course material which is thoughtful since it will help students in both improving their linguistic skills and succeeding in their academic course. You can learn more about the program in the following resources: 

Closer to home, there is FASE's Engineering Communication Program, which features Professional Language Development Tutoring. It is designed to assist students with using English, specifically in the engineering context. For vocabulary-intensive engineering courses, such as biology, the instructor may consider designing a breakdown of the vocabulary, similar to that of the RWE program to help students familiarize themselves with the terminology progressively. This would be particularly helpful considering the difference in exposure to biology among students.

Six strategies of Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy:

1. Cultural Bridging - focuses on the students’ life experiences and existing knowledge and how they can be help students learn and adapt to the new environment and challenges they will be facing in the future.

  • Example: supplementary video content

This is an ideal format to add additional information to lecture material. It could be videos that explain the course concepts from a different perspective, or optional videos that would extend the students’ knowledge on the subject. This would also be a good place to introduce applications of the concepts discussed in lecture, especially in the global context, reflecting the culturally responsive part of the pedagogy.

2. Personalized Feedback - aims to track a student’s individual progress. 

  • Example: using the Quercus Inbox function to provide feedback

It is hard to provide individual feedback in large courses. One of my instructors used the Inbox function on Quercus to follow up on tutorials. The message was sent to specific tutorial group asking for feedback and experience, reflecting the Care and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, especially the “personalized feedback” strategy.

3&4. High Motivation, Learner Autonomy and Empowerment - both High Motivation and Learner Autonomy and Empowerment are about encouragement and building confidence in the student. Pages 16 and 17 of the slidedeck contain descriptions of the strategies and their implication on student experience.

Techniques used to exercise these strategies include (taken from the session and the handout):

  • In one-on-one conversations: identify the student’s own interests and values; provide positive feedback before giving suggestions for improvements
  • In class: utilize a mix of different content delivery methods (e.g. visual, text, etc.) to aid the learning of students with different learning styles; use stories of role models to inspire and stimulate interest in learning a subject

5. Teachers as Facilitators - as Dr. Huo and Dr. Khoo stated in the presentation, it is not about what we do for the students, but more importantly, what we do with the students. 

  • Example: creating mini quizzes and/or let the students create questions and answer each other’s questions

Both the quizzes and the activities of creating and answering questions are effective ways to help students keep on track with the course material, especially in the online learning environment. In my opinion, the weekly quizzes in one of my courses really helped me stay on top of the course concepts and practice problems. It is also a good idea to use the quizzes to decrease weight on midterms and final exams, releasing some stress from the students.

6. Humanize Learning - is an integration of the first five strategies. 

  • Example: having detailed solutions to practice problems

Some instructors may decide to give only the final answer in the interest of encouraging students to think on their own instead of just looking at the answer. However, this would likely results in students spending time and trying to figure out questions they could not solve, or making TAs very busy answering the students’ questions. One may consider publishing solutions on a certain date to help students prepare for evaluations while guiding them to think independently on problem sets. Please see these instructions on how to add files to a course module and how to lock a module until a certain date

Now it's a good time to review the blog post written by Alli, “EngSci’s Top 10 Recommendations for Online Learning” in January 2021 and see how some suggestions was implemented in the Winter 2021 term. 

Additional Resources from the Symposium:

Article Category: Student Perspectives