Class Year

2021

Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Education Department

First Advisor

Christopher Bjork

Second Advisor

Jodi Schwarz

Abstract

The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has distributed our lives in every aspect. After a year of living under the ‘new normal, we are finally seeing vaccinations becoming available, which greatly benefits everyone at risk. This pandemic uncovered the importance of scientists, particularly life scientists, holding hands and working together to tackle life-threatening, global, and emergent health problems. However, what accompanies this ‘new normal’ is the pandemic is the distressing racism and hate crimes against black and Asian Americans that have happened across the country. International political confrontations also escalated the tensions against Asians in the country. As a consequence, foreign scientists, especially scholars from China or Chinese Americans, feel less secure in working in STEM fields in the United States. This has largely destroyed the long-standing harmonious and inclusive environment of the STEM community both domestically and internationally. These call for research that contributes to potential reforms to re-build a global STEM community that is collaborative, welcoming, and inclusive to all scientists. The Grand Challenges Program at Vassar College works towards such reforms to foster STEM inclusive excellence at the college, with one research direction of inclusive STEM pedagogy. This work aimed to study the inclusive teaching practices employed by Vassar STEM faculty, and faculty perceptions of inclusion. Interviews were conducted with four STEM professors from the departments of Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and Statistics, and Computer Science. These interviews focused on discussing their inclusive pedagogy and the reasons or philosophies behind employing such practices. In addition, a section was dedicated to investigating the impacts of COVID-19 in inclusive teaching and potential lessons that could be learned from hybrid or remote teaching experiences. A central finding of my study uncovered the fact that genuine care and a desire to get to know students and facilitate their growth is essential for successful inclusive teachings. The outcome of this work will provide critical insights into the status quo of inclusive STEM education at Vassar and suggest potential directions of reforms of improving inclusion and diversity of the STEM community at Vassar.

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