Equality, Equity, or Both?

Have you seen these images floating around educational social media that offer a visual comparison of equality and equity?

The first image shows how some people need more or different resources to reach a goal. The second image sends the same message but acknowledges that some people start out standing on lower ground. If being able to see the baseball game is a metaphor for graduating from college, the fence represents the myriad of challenges that students must navigate along the way. The different ground heights in the second image are similar to the range of advantage or oppression students experience in their lives before arriving at Chico State. Equality (i.e. accessibility) is offering equal access to the educational experience. Equity goes a step further and offers all students, including those with persistent disadvantage, the opportunity to be successful in college and meet course learning outcomes.

Many courses on our campus are both accessible and equitable. Some may be accessible but not equitable. Some may be neither. Chico State has multiple programs and departments to help make the Chico State experience both accessible and equitable such as the Office of Accessible Technology & Services, the Accessibility Resource Center, the Educational Opportunity Program, and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Faculty have perhaps the greatest potential to impact students and can strive towards both accessibility and equity in the classroom. Some pedagogical techniques, including “differentiated instruction”, can maximize students’ chances for success. Here are a few examples…

  • Adjust pacing, resources, and methods of engagement for individual learners
  • Empower students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically
  • Include readings from diverse authors
  • Use varied socio-cultural context in test questions and assignments
  • Encourage multiple perspectives in class rather than consensus
  • Include partner and small-group work to engage multiple learning preferences
  • Offer a variety of ways for students to earn points and participate in class

Might there be one pedagogical change could you implement this semester to help students see over the proverbial fence in your course?

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