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DEI Collective Professional Learning Series

DEI Collective Professional Learning Series

Each month the School of Education and Human Development's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will engage faculty and staff in Professional Learning focused on DEI. The monthly professional learning will have four parts:

  1. Read: Short and impactful articles, chapters, or blogs to help frame the topic for the month (Week 1).
  2. Watch/Listen: Watch a pre-recorded presentation, YouTube recordings, and/or listen to a podcast focused on the topic for the month (Week 2).
  3. Write: Journal, write reflections, and respond to prompts/questions based on the "read" and "watch/listen" for the month reading and recording (Week 3).
  4. Engage: Participate in a live Zoom session, which may include authors from the readings, presenters from the pre-recorded session or podcast, or an expert on the topic of the month (Week 4).

The DEI Professional Learning is intentionally framed in this way to allow faculty and staff to build a shared understanding of topics and concepts (read and watch/listen) before engaging.

January 2021 - Sense of Belongingness: Teaching Workshop

College students' sense of belonging matters because it is related to their academic success and emotional wellbeing. Although there are more research and emphasis on the sense of belonging in K-12 educational environments, higher education leaders have increasingly begun to emphasize the sense of belonging in college student populations. The success of college students is related to whether or not they feel welcomed in specific college environments, such as classrooms. Sense of belonging is associated with several things, including college students' engagement and persistence, course grades, and academic motivation. College students who feel that they belong in your classroom are more likely to succeed.

  • Read:

    Ahn, M. Y., & Davis, H. H. (2020). Four domains of students' sense of belonging to university. Studies in Higher Education, 45(3), 622-634.

    Gopalan, M., & Brady, S. T. (2020). College students' sense of belonging: A national perspective. Educational Researcher, 49(2), 134-137.

    Johnson, E. (2020, January 2). Students' Sense of Belonging Varies by Identity, Institution. Insider Higher Ed Retrieved January 3, 2021, from

    Smith, A. (2018, June 26). First-Generation College Students More Engaged Than Peers Insider Higher Ed Retrieved January 3, 2021, from

  • Watch and Listen:

    Watch: (19 minutes) Inalienable Rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Belonging by Terrell Strayhorn TEDx (YouTube)
    When students don't feel like belong in your classroom, they will likely be less engaged (i.e., not participating in class discussions, group activities, and not paying attention during lecture). A student who lacks belonging may even skip your class more often than students who feel a sense of belonging there or be prone to show up to class late. Students who lack belonging may choose to sit in the back of the classroom or away from other students. Regarding language, students who don't feel like they belong may use "other" terminology when describing other students in their class. For example, "students in this class seem to like the subject we are studying," versus "students in our class….". If you hear one of your students talking as if they are not a part of your class, that is a pretty strong indicator that they don't feel like they belong.

    Watch: (7 minutes) Encouraging a Sense of Belonging.
    In this video, Stanford psychologist Gregory Walton explains how a relatively small psychological intervention can improve student achievement and workplace environments.

    Listen: (26 minutes) Conceptualizing 'Sense of Belonging' Among Students From Historically Minoritized Racial Groups Within Higher Education.
    Colvin Georges Jr. talks with Dr. Nidia Ruedas-Gracia about what it means to have a sense of belonging and discusses her research in this area. They also discuss how a sense of belonging affects college students from historically minoritized racial groups.

    Listen: (53 minutes) Cultivating a Sense of Belonging. Leading Out of the Woods Podcast host Matthew Woods
    Terrell Strayhorn joins Matt Woods to discuss his research and provide steps to our listeners so they can cultivate a sense of belonging with their students in their classrooms.

  • Write:

    "It's hard to put into words what sometimes you pick up in the ether, the quiet, cruel nuances of not belonging—the subtle cues that tell you to not risk anything, to find your people and just stay put." - Michelle Obama.

    1. Reflect on the above quote by Michelle Obama.
      • What does it mean to you?
      • What does the “cruel nuances of not belonging” look, sound, and feel like in our collective spaces?
    2. For many students, staff, and faculty, engaging or participating can be risk-taking because a sense of belonging has not been fully cultivated. What structures must be in place for you to cultivate a sense of belonging?
  • Engage:

    Engage for Faculty, Staff, and Students

    January 26, 2021
    3:00 PM
    Zoom - Registration Link

    DAC Teaching Conference

    January 26, 2021
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    Zoom - Registration Link