I am committed to engaging in activities to enhance diversity and equity efforts on in STEM. Through my research, teaching, and service activities I strive to keep equity and underserved people in mind, and possess an intrinsic aim to attain inclusion which guides all of my plans and actions.
My work on accessibility was highlighted in the CU Independent news:
Everyone should have access to education. I was awarded a Universal Design Fellowship from the Office of Information Technology at CU Boulder. As a result, I learned a variety of Universal Design principles to create accessible materials and support multiple points of entry, and regularly use these principles to create lectures, caption videos, and convert content into several accessible formats. To evaluate whether students benefit from these practices, I conducted research to use data analytics to measure usage of accessible versus non-accessible materials, and used qualitative surveys for mixed methods. I found that the small amount of time it takes to create accessible materials, is WELL worth it for the amount that students benefit (Pinzone in prep). Thus, I have presented at meetings to encourage other faculty to increase accessibility of teaching.
In the School of Continuing Education, classes usually contain students who are first-generation, on academic probation, non-traditional, international / ESL, or from groups underserved in STEM. As a first-generation college student, I rarely felt a sense of belonging in a stadium-seating classroom with 1,100 other students. I aim to create an inclusive community of practice in my classes, where students work toward common goals and engage in an academic context. Students have commented they will truly miss their classmates, an opportunity commonly missed in traditional lectures.
I intentionally design courses to support accessibility and inclusion, through in-class practices, active-learning, and course policies. There are systemic inequalities that affect student success, that are often external. As such, I conduct pre-assessments to evaluate the strength of background knowledge, and provide resources for catch up. Participation in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity at the University of Georgia, we explored the myth of meritocracy in which each person is a diverse set of privileges and obstacles, which create different starting points regardless of individual investment. Thus, I mainly focus on low-stakes assignments, so that students can succeed with sincere effort, and those that had a really slow starting point are not further left behind, while maintaining intellectual challenge through the support of their peers.
I use active-learning largely because of evidence in narrowing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students, such as those in underserved groups and with low socioeconomic status (SES) (Haak et al. 2011), while still enhancing learning gains for more advanced students over traditional lecture. However, focusing mainly on activities in the classroom may disadvantage students with a hard time attending, such as those with young children, disabilities and long-term illnesses, or long commutes on public transportation due to low SES. To overcome this, so that all students can gain from active learning and participate in the academic environment, I have devised a make-up system where students who attended can earn extra credit by helping students who were absent to engage in the activity. Therefore, students are able to enjoy the same learning experience in an effective and inclusive manner with equivalent ease.
Finally I have had the opportunity to advocate for students with extreme personal circumstances, and find resources for those in need of extra help. I would have benefited from having someone to discuss issues with in college, and am extremely grateful that I am able to serve in that role for others.
I have presented work on accessibility at a variety of venues (see “CV” page)
“What can YOU easily do to make your teaching more inclusive and accessible?”,
9th Annual STEM Symposium, Center for STEM Learning, Fall 2017 CU Boulder
“Teaching Evolution & Biology to a diversity of learners: Accessibility & Inclusion”,
Society for the Study of Evolution, Evolution Conference, Summer 2017, Portland, OR
“Making a Flipped Course Fully Accessible”, presented both at the Teaching with Technology Symposium, hosted by ASSETT in Spring 2017 at CU Boulder, and also at the 2017 Diverse Learners Awareness Week, CU Boulder (see above press story)