Supportive Instructor & Course Interactions
A key lever for improving equitable student experience is equipping instructors with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to create an inclusive and supportive classroom environment. Instructors create and communicate the “mindset culture” of their classes through the norms, policies, procedures, and messages in the classroom, as well as in their interactions with students (Murphy & Reeves, 2019).
For example, if instructors make statements implying that some students do not have what it takes to pass the course (i.e., communicating their fixed mindset beliefs about students’ abilities), it raises questions in students’ minds about whether they belong in the course and can succeed at the institution. However, if instructors communicate their growth mindset beliefs about ability—that all students can improve their knowledge and skills with effort, learning, and effective strategies—and provide the resources and strategies to do so, students believe that they can succeed in the course (Boucher et al., 2021). Importantly, faculty’s mindset beliefs and practices relate to student performance in their classes: on average, all students tend to perform better in STEM classes taught by instructors who self-report more growth than fixed mindset beliefs (Canning et al., 2019). These psychological experiences, in turn, predict better course engagement, interest in STEM, and course performance (Muenks et al., 2020).
The institutions in the SEP cohort focused deeply on engaging instructors to use classroom practices that communicate that all students are able to learn and grow their abilities and that all students are valued in the instructor’s classroom. Browse the library below to learn more about these practices.