Driver 2 - Supportive Instructor & Course Interactions

Resources in this Change Idea

Evidence Base

An identity safe classroom is one where students from diverse identities and backgrounds feel welcome, valued, respected, and recognized as having the potential to succeed (Steele et al., 2002; Steele, 2007). Working to create identity safe classrooms is particularly important for students who come from backgrounds that are negatively stereotyped in society or who are numerically underrepresented in college settings. Identity safe classroom environments that communicate that all students are valued, respected, and capable of success enhance student learning and bolster engagement (Umbach & Wawrzynski, 2005; Walton et al., 2015; Murphy & Destin, 2016). 



College Transition Collaborative/Equity Accelerator

Sushilla Knottenbelt
Senior Lecturer III, Department of Chemistry, University of New Mexico

Sandra Robinson
Associate Lecturer, University of Toledo


Instructors across the SEP network used evidence-based resources in the SEP Classroom Practices Library to develop their approach to establishing identity safety in their classrooms. The resource guides in the Classroom Practices Library helped instructors establish norms for course conduct, acknowledge diverse identities, address social or historical context, and employ routine inclusive teaching practices. Sandra Robinson (University of Toledo) assigned her students to read biographies of diverse mathematics scholars and to reflect on their stories. Dr. Sushilla Knottenbelt (University of New Mexico) reached out to former students and asked them to share stories of struggle and success with her current students. The supports in the Classroom Practices Library help instructors like Ms. Robinson and Dr. Knottenbelt be successful in implementing these practices in ways that are attuned to students’ experiences. Click the link below to learn more about creating identity safety in the classroom, review the evidence-based implementation guide, and see how Ms. Robinson and Dr. Knottenbelt adapted this practice for their classroom context.