The Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) is dedicated to supporting academic excellence and the future endeavors of all Mills students. We continue to attract and cultivate faculty and students who are scholars, leaders, artists, scientists, and researchers who seek new ways of knowing and learning. Leveraging the following pedagogical ideas and strategies helps us to break down the barriers that would prevent inclusive and equitable practices in our classrooms.
As an antiracist institution, Mills works to equip its faculty with knowledge of and resources for evidence-based antiracist teaching practices. These practices take faculty through self-reflection on white privilege to examining the role of white supremacy in higher education, whether inside or outside the classroom, to applying antiracist principles to their teaching.
Approaching this as the development and cultivation of a practice and a mindset, the CFE guides faculty in developing an outlook on and approaches to inclusive teaching that, through course content, assessments, and pedagogy, ensure that all students have equal access and opportunity to become successful learners.
As the literature shows, trauma can affect students’ executive functioning and self-regulation skills, which means that they experience difficulties in planning, remembering, and focusing on what they need to learn. The CFE assists faculty in learning about trauma theory and adopting teaching and learning policies and practices that avoid retraumatization and promote resilience and growth.
Universal Instructional Design (UID) or Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) is an educational framework for applying universal design principles to learning environments with a goal toward greater accessibility for all students, including students with disabilities. As educators, instructors, professors, and leaders, we know that despite our best efforts to plan for variability, the unpredictable circumstance will arise and we might have to adjust our instruction to meet that challenge. Ability access means promoting the principles of universal design. UID targets the best practices of teaching for each student’s learning needs.
Universal design originates in barrier-free design and architectural accessibility. According to the Center for Universal Design, "Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." In recent years, this approach that was originally applied to building design has been applied to instructional practices. Universal Design for Instruction targets the best practices of teaching for each student’s learning needs.*
*Source: Darby, Alexa. Understanding Universal Design in the Classroom. National Educators Association.