It is with this question that Bryan Dewsbury, Assistant Professor for Biological Science at the University of Rhode Island, opened the conservation with our HSTEM class.
One by one, all 8 HSTEM students answered Professor Dewsbury’s question, sharing their aspirations and hopes for the future. While a student was answering his question, Professor Dewsbury listened attentively. After a student finished, he followed up with questions, insightful comments and jokes that made the entire group laugh. Professor Dewsbury’s questions lead to an animated discussion, fostered open dialogue and created a welcoming environment.
In addition to teaching at the University of Rhode Island, Professor Dewsbury is researcher. His research work focuses on the development of inclusive STEM teaching practices. Inclusive teaching, he says, is a “philosophy of teaching that provides equal opportunities for all students to have a successful learning experience” (Dewsbury, 2017). He argues that, to create an inclusive academic environment, it is paramount that faculty be culturally competent and cognizant of their students’ identities. This requires that teachers commit to receiving training in pedagogical and cultural competence. Professor Dewsbury also underscores the importance of having both teachers and students engage academically in a wide range of issues, including those that are polarizing. He believes that such conversations will help ensure that all students in a classroom will have an equal opportunity to learn.
References: Dewsbury, Bryan. (2017). On faculty development of STEM inclusive teaching practices. FEMS, 364 (18). doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnx179.
This article was written by Natalie Braun (Amherst College class of 2019) for the Spring 2019 HSTEM course.