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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Academic Senate discusses how to increase equity in Canvas courses


Five City College faculty members presented their results from an intercollegiate workshop to help aid student equity and inclusivity at the Academic Senate meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Executive Vice President of Educational Programs Kathy Scott sponsored the faculty members to take part in Long Beach City College’s Cultural Curriculum Audit Winter 2022 cohort.

The audit covered areas including understanding success and equity data, principles of student equity, thinking about identity, implicit bias and areas where courses and content can be redesigned to incorporate these ideas.

“Consider where as a senate we can institutionalize these practices,” Academic Senate President Raeanne Napoleon said. “Where in ten-plus-one can we pull in to our processes can we pull in some of the things we’re seeing here?”

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The five “deliverable” items from the audit were demonstrations on making a Canvas home page more welcoming, how to make a syllabus more equitable, ways to make assignments more transparent, how to make a Canvas page more culturally responsive, and an example of an active learning activity.

Napoleon was joined by psychology assistant professor Josh Ramirez, Chicana/o studies instructor Melinda Gandara, social sciences senator Tara Carter and history assistant professor Justina Buller to give the presentation, who also took part in the program.

During Gandara’s presentation on assignment transparency, she highlighted how grading based on expressing ideas allows students to “see how they have their own lived experience, and how they can incorporate it into [an] assignment.”

Carter shared her challenges with getting students to connect with hunter-gatherer cultures as part of the section on making a Canvas page more culturally responsive.

She cited that previously she would receive papers centering on how “primitive” hunter-gatherers are. The section was redesigned to highlight areas such as the deep community support and impact on the environment the cultures have.

“I needed to find a way to really engage with students on their own terms and to demonstrate that it had purpose and meaning,” Carter said. “Students now are reporting to me that this is their most favorite topic.”

The audit was completed over a three week period, consisting of two weekly Zoom meetings as well as through a shell on Canvas. Scott helped make the connection between City College and Long Beach City College, and secured the faculty members a stipend for their participation.

The senate president highlighted how being required to do every part of the audit helped “put theory to practice” and allowed them to get a better understanding and to see what has worked in their classes.

“I think that we want to do something very similar for our faculty here,” Napoleon said.

The Academic Senate will reconvene on Wednesday, Mar. 9.

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