Jeanie R. C. Toscano, DTEI Pedagogical Fellow
Department of Spanish & Portuguese.
I attended Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching & Learning in San Diego, California in January of 2022
The in-person conference was a refreshing change of pace after living in such a two-dimensional pandemic world over the past two years. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas with faculty and graduate students from all over the country who came to discuss ways to improve as teachers.
Best Practices in Second Language Teaching
My presentation “Warming up to music: Incorporating Audio Texts in Second Language Teaching” discussed research-based methodologies for incorporating lyrical music in second language teaching. I drew on research on second language acquisition to discuss a strategy that turns lyrical music into warm-up activities for vocabulary-building lessons.
I had the privilege of engaging with various professors of second languages (including French, Italian, English, German and Chinese) about best practices for incorporating music for second language teaching. Though my presentation centered around vocabulary-building lesson design, other scholars proposed informal ideas for incorporating music for grammar lessons as well.
It was wonderful to connect with faculty who also love languages and are seeking to become more effective and engaging second language teachers.
Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom
Beyond my own presentation, I took advantage of the variety of topics being presented at the conference. I was particularly drawn to presentations related to inclusive and equitable teaching practices, so I jumped at the chance to attend as many as I could fit in my schedule for the day.
From the various presentations addressing equity and inclusion throughout the conference, I found the talk “What Can ‘Wise Interventions’ Teach Us About Equity in the Classroom?” by Dr. David Gooblar to be particularly compelling.
Gooblar discussed the importance of understanding negative psychological phenomena affecting historically marginalized students in higher education. He argues that understanding these psychological phenomena can inform pedagogical interventions that are meant to offset psychological barriers to learning. Gooblar was careful to point out that such negative psychological phenomena (including stereotype threat and identity incompatibility) are created by an unequal world and not by psychological deficiencies in individuals.
Of the various interventions meant to offset the negative psychological experiences of historically marginalized students in higher education, two stand out:
The growth mindset intervention targets the phenomenon of stereotype threat, or the fear of proving true the negative stigmas about one’s social group.
The growth mindset is the view that talent and knowledge are malleable, and thus everyone is capable of learning and growth. As such, teaching from a growth mindset that actively acknowledges everyone’s learning potential is a suitable intervention to offset stereotype threat, particularly if marginalized groups are stigmatized as having a fixed or limited learning potential.
The social belonging intervention targets the identity incompatibility phenomenon, or the experience of one’s identity as a deficiency and as an obstacle in higher education. This psychological phenomenon is related to lack of representation by historically marginalized groups in these settings, creating an environment in which adverse experiences compound to exacerbate the already existing feeling that members of such groups don’t belong in higher education.
As an intervention to this phenomenon, the social belonging intervention promotes the belief that adversity and setbacks are normal in higher education, and that even severe adversity and challenges does not mean one doesn’t belong in higher education.
The social belonging intervention proposal received some push-back from members of the audience, pointing out that isolation and the feeling of alienation can at times be so strong among historically marginalized students, that discussing adversity as normal is not often enough to mitigate the effects of identity incompatibility. Nevertheless, the social belonging intervention still appears to be a promising intervention that can be combined with other strategies to mitigate the negative psychological forces that result from unequal opportunities in higher education and beyond. In combination with other strategies, the social belonging intervention may contribute to generating the feeling of belonging and wellbeing among historically marginalized students.
I really enjoyed Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching. I was impressed by the level of engagement among the conference attendees with the various discussions on equity and inclusion. I appreciated the lively discussions and the serious interrogation of ideas presented.