Page content expands on Carleton LTC Session Acknowledging Class in the Classroom, November 1st, 2016

Carleton students represent the full spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds. At the campus scale, the college has been actively supporting critical conversations and TRIO peer leaders lead Class Act every term to create a supportive dialog about socioeconomic issues. In your classroom, creating an inclusive environment can lead to a richness in perspectives and better learning and academic performance for all students. Socioeconomic status is one aspect of students’ backgrounds that is not necessarily visible, but can have a significant impact a students’ stress level, sense of belonging, growth-mindset, and readiness to utilize resources (including office hours). These social-psychological aspects of the learning experience directly impact GPA.

Why Acknowledge Class?

Acknowledging class in the classroom can produce better learning outcomes by reducing stress, validating the experience of individuals, and closing the academic achievement gap, which positively impacts all students.


Four minute strategies

These short strategies help create an inclusive environment by validating individual experiences in an authentic, respectful, and non-patronizing way:

  • Course descriptions – by including known fees and funding opportunities in official course descriptions, all students have access to and feel welcome in your course
  • Syllabus statement – a short statement that establishes the expectation of an inclusive environment can give students confidence that all opinions and experiences are an important part of learning in your course, and one that acknowledges different socioeconomic burdens of additional course fees shows that you are aware and supportive of students with differing economic statuses.
  • Selecting new course readings and materials from a variety of socioeconomic perspectives can broaden the conversation.
  • Strategies to create a welcoming environment on the first day of class include:
    • Acknowledging the full spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds
    • Being explicit about classroom expectations—leveling the playing field by removing uncertainty
    • Debunking the myth that course resources are only for students that are failing by emphasizing that utilizing resources is part of an effective and proactive student toolkit (including office hours, academic skills center, librarians, prefects/lab assistants, etc.)

5–60 minute strategies

  • Social-belonging interventions: In education research, there are a growing number of very brief social-psychological exercises that have a profound impact on student GPA’s. Interventions are most effective when they are short in duration (5-30min) and “stealthy” where students aren’t told that they are doing “an intervention” to improve their performance.  (Yeager and Walton, 2011, Aguilar, Walton, & Wieman, 2014).
  • Incorporate self-regulated learning techniques (increasing self-efficacy and metacognitive skills)
  • Kuh’s High-Impact Educational Practices help all students, but disproportionately positively impact  to close the achievement gap and benefit the full range of socioeconomic backgrounds (see more teaching strategies on TRIO’s For Faculty and Staff page)

Longer term strategies