Why Diversity Matters

Although all students who enter the College have gone through a rigorous selection process, each student brings a unique set of characteristics that affect learning. Previously, teaching has relied on a "top down" model with the instructor (expert) at the center and the student (novice) as the receiver, compiler and assimilator of information. We have come to understand that what is "effective" instruction for some students is much less so for others. Their backgrounds, skills and personal resources differ to such an extent that colleges now have revamped how they think about and engage with students. Instructors are partners with a variety of support resources: research librarians, TAs, tutors, mentors, coaches and centers that support writing. All are part of the equation designed to allow students to learn effectively.

Research has shown two main contributors to student success:

  • Time spent on academic activities (effort)
  • Timely use of resources that promote essential skill and strategy development

These apply to all students but the balance between them will be different for each student. More time using ineffective practices and little time using good practices will yield limited results. As the manager of this complex system, the instructor promotes learning by building systems that take different learner characteristics and needs into consideration.

For more on creating conditions for student success, read:

Kuh, George D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., Whitt, Elizabeth J, and Associates (2010).  Student Success in College: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: jossey-Bass.