Student-Centered Institutional Structures & Policies
A key lever for improving equity in student outcomes is designing institutional structures and policies that enable faculty, staff, and administrators to create environments where all students have the opportunity, resources, and support they need to learn and grow. Approaches to improve equity in education that do not take into account these aspects of the learning environment – and instead focus only on changing students – perpetuate deficit frameworks about students and are often ineffective. That is because they fail to acknowledge or address the structural and environmental factors that contribute to students’ ability to learn and grow (Walton & Yeager, 2020; Yeager et al., 2021).
By clearly locating the responsibility for change on the university, and not students, institutions can begin to address and dismantle systemic barriers to success that perpetuate inequities and undermine students’ persistence and achievement in higher education. This work requires building awareness of these inequities among stakeholders across the university (administrators, faculty, staff, and leadership), while developing a shared responsibility and clear roles for everyone in order to change systems, learning environments, and overall culture.
SEP institutions worked to establish student-centered institutional structures and policies by establishing communities of practice that engage instructors in improving the classroom experience, and deeply involving students in creating more equitable learning environments. Browse the library below to learn more about their efforts.