Introduction

An "equity-minded" instructor takes "personal and institutional responsibility for the success of their students . . . [These] practitioners are race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education. . . . [They] question their own assumptions, recognize stereotypes that harm student success, and continually reassess their practices to create change. Part of taking on this framework is that institutions and practitioners become accountable for the success of their students and see racial gaps as their personal and institutional responsibility" (Center for Urban Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California | Equity-Mindedness).

Summary of Research

"Equity-mindedness" is the mental model proposed by Estelle Bensimon and her colleagues at the Center for Urban Education, USC, as the first response for institutions reckoning with evidence of racial inequalities through their Equity Scorecard (EqS) process. For many educators, including administrators, the default and often unconscious assumption when a student from an historically underserved population struggles is that the problem is the sad result of poverty, or parents too busy to help, or underfunded schools, or negligent teachers, or a culture that does not value education. We pour money into remedial programs that stigmatize students and imply that they are not actually "college material," despite the evidence that students who test into remedial courses are far less likely to graduate even if they successfully complete the remedial course.  Equity-mindedness implies that we first examine the issues that have caused the historic underserving to particular groups in the first place. That starts with our own attitudes as educators

"Equity-mindedness" is thus the foundation that must underpin all "High-Impact Practices" if they are to have the effect of narrowing equity gaps for historically underserved students. That effect is why George Kuh named a practice "high-impact" -- if it does not narrow gaps, or if students from historically underserved populations do not or cannot participate in it, the practice is not high-impact.

Looking at one's own attitudes and practices can be scary. But admitting that the institution's own habits and culture might be a barrier for some students, and that we as instructors might have absorbed those habits and continually enact that culture means that we can do a great deal to fix the problem we have all inherited. 

Strategies

Use data to drive decisions. While UWL has not undertaken the full EqS process since we were part of a System-wide initiative in 2005-2007, our office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning has reported equity data and equity gaps of various types to the campus, to the Equity Liaisons, and to UW System for many years. 

References/Resources

If reference is made to equity-mindedness and/or equity-minded cognitive frame, please cite the source as University of Southern California, Center for Urban Education, Rossier School of Education. These concepts were developed by the Center as part of its Equity Scorecard™.


Hoskins, D. (2020). Provide High Challenge with High Impact: "Equity-Minded" HIPs. In Instructor's Guide to Inclusive Excellence. University of Wisconsin at La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from https://www.uwlax.edu/catl/teaching-guides/instructors-guide-to-inclusive-excellence/provide-high-challenge/equity-minded-hips/