handbook serves as a supplement to the Teaching Resource Center publication
Teaching at the University of Virginia. Though some material will
necessarily overlap that in the other handbook, Teaching a Diverse
Student Body expands upon issues of diversity in a series of interrelated
chapters. At the end of the book, you'll find appendices listing relevant
university and community offices and organizations as well as additional
print, web, and video resources to consult for further information. Please
note that the handbook is meant to be a helpful source of ideas based
on current research and not a doctrine insisting upon certain "correct"
procedures or beliefs.
chapters can be read separately: the table of contents and lists of chapter
sections will help you locate specific topics. Because some will prefer
to read a chapter at a time, particularly effective teaching strategies
may appear in more than one chapter. Overall, though, the chapters are
meant to build upon one another to form a general scheme for responsive
and inclusive teaching. Since students vary in their backgrounds and learning
preferences, these suggestions-taken as a whole- should prove helpful
in recognizing and addressing the individual learning styles of all our
students, not just those who fit into specific categories. Recognizing
and responding to the increasing diversity of our student body can help
us become more effective teachers, enriching our classrooms in the process.
30% of the entering Class of 2007 were students from underrepresented
groups (9% African American, 11% Asian American, 3% Hispanic American,
and 5% international). Over half were women. Racial, ethnic and gender
differences account for only a part of our students' diversity, however.
U.Va. students vary in many other ways as well, including religious values,
sexual orientation, fluency in English, cultural background, and types
of physical ability. Although knowing these details helps us become more
aware of the differences among our students, "[n]aming patterns is
like charting the prevailing winds over a continent, which does not imply
that every individual and item in the landscape is identically affected"
(Frye 180). As Marilyn Frye suggests, while it is sometimes useful to
recognize patterns of differences, we must also remember that these general
patterns will not apply to every individual student and that many students
fall into more than one category. Terms such as "female student,"
"African American student," or "Asian American student"
can encompass vast differences in cultures, educational backgrounds, psychological
types, and learning preferences. The suggestions in this handbook are
meant to help faculty and teaching assistants recognize some broad ways
in which students may differ from one another-and from each of us-and
to examine what effect these differences may have on our students' learning
and our teaching. The most effective ways we can recognize and teach this
diverse student body are by following the same general principles good
- making our
students comfortable in the classroom
differences in their reactions and learning preferences
in a flexible manner
the ways our students participate in the classroom
to students equitably and inclusively.
hope this handbook will help you to enact these principles in your classroom.
Please let us know what you think by contacting us at trc-uva@