Hidden STEM Curriculum
Guiding Principles of Inclusive Curriculum
Our inclusive curriculum encompasses curricular practices that promote success across all students. The salient characteristics of inclusive practices that we focus on include representation of diverse STEM figures, providing safe spaces for failure, promoting collaboration over competition, and supporting student autonomy. Each of these practices is founded in the literature as ways to support inclusive learning environments.
Introducing examples of underrepresented persons in STEM and humanizing them by telling their personal and professional stories, students develop a personal connection to the course material that often does not occur in STEM courses.
The ability to grow from failure, also referred to in the literature as “performance-avoidance,” has been demonstrated to serve as an important predictor of retention of underrepresented students in STEM.
Peer learning and collaborative working have been shown to improve student outcomes, promote inclusion, and have been demonstrated in problem-based learning pedagogies.
Student autonomy is an important predictor of student success and motivation, and it has been demonstrated specifically to improve learning outcomes in underrepresented students.
Considerations for Inclusive (and Equitable) Classrooms:
There are many opportunities to bring in intentional pedagogical practices to improve inclusion and equity in your courses. In the design of our own courses, our four guiding principles motivate how we: present and motivate the technical content, create learning experiences for our students, and assess our student's learning. The curricular activities we share on this site are licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 and thus free to copy, distribute, and adapt with attribution and for non-commercial use. On our Recommended Resources page we share a number of ideas that have inspired us. Our key tips include:
Be intentional: syllabus, learning outcomes, assessing learning, policies, and class materials
Check your own biases
Be transparent: be explicit with your decisions, allow students to make learning visible to others, ask students for their feedback and close feedback loops
Keep it simple: you don't have to reinvent your entire course. Small changes let you better see what is working and what isn't
Keep it authentic: Not every technique will work for everyone, and that is ok.