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Master of Education in Advanced Teaching (M.Ed.)

EDUC 5710 Understanding Barriers to Learning

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EDUC 5710: Understanding Barriers to Learning

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: EDUC 5210, EDUC 5220, and EDUC 5240

Course Description:  

This course will consider the myriad of ways in which students in a single classroom can differ and how it can impede learning.  The characteristics and implications of physical and sensory disabilities and health impairments; cognitive, emotional and psychological differences; and racial/ethnic, gender, cultural, socio-economic and linguistic variability will be discussed.  External and internal forces driving instructional adaptation and their implications for teachers will be covered.

Required Textbook and Materials: UoPeople courses use open educational resources (OER) and other materials specifically donated to the University with free permissions for educational use. Therefore, students are not required to purchase any textbooks or sign up for any websites that have a cost associated with them. The main required textbooks for this course are listed below and can be readily accessed using the provided links. There may be additional required/recommended readings, supplemental materials, or other resources and websites necessary for lessons; these will be provided for you in the course's General Information and Forums area, and throughout the term via the weekly course Unit areas and the Learning Guides.

  • This course does not contain a main textbook; all required reading will be provided in the course Learning Guide for each week.

To access some of the resources, you must log into Moodle and go to Resources and then to the UoPeople Library and Resource Center. From there click Access to Library and Information Resource Network in order to get into LIRN. Once you are in LIRN, Click on the Alphabetical View tab at the top of the page and scroll down to the database where the resource is located (eBook Central, ERIC, Gale, etc.). Copy and paste the title of the resource, into the search bar. A link to the resource will appear. 

For more information on navigating the UoPeople Library resources review the Library and Information Resources Network (LIRN) and JSTOR instructional document. If you have any problems, please contact library@uopeople.edu. 

Software Requirements/Installation: No special requirements.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes:

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Critically appraise the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in a complex and contested environment.
  2.  Analyze the external and internal forces driving instructional adaptation for physical and sensory disabilities and health impairments and their implications for teachers.
  3. Analyze the external and internal forces driving instructional adaptation for racial/ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, linguistic and gender differences and their implications for teachers.
  4. Apply instructional adaptations tailored to students displaying behavioral, psychological, cognitive and/or academic difficulties and create opportunities for transformational change in instructional content and delivery in the classroom.
  5. Examine the concept of diversity and the differences between traditional classrooms vs diverse classrooms including the physical environment and emotional environment.

Course Schedule and Topics: This course will cover the following topics in eight learning sessions, with one Unit per week.

Week 1: Unit 1 - Introduction to Diversity in the Classroom

Week 2: Unit 2 - Physical and Sensory Impairments

Week 3: Unit 3 - Instructional Adaptations for Physical and Sensory Impairments

Week 4: Unit 4 - Cognitive, Psychological, and Emotional Differences 

Week 5: Unit 5 - Instructional Adaptations for Cognitive, Psychological, and Emotional Differences

Week 6: Unit 6 - Racial, Ethnic, Gender. Socioeconomic, and Cultural/Linguistic Diversity

Week 7: Unit 7 - Instructional Adaptations for Racial, Ethnic, Gender. Socioeconomic, and Cultural/Linguistic Diversity

Week 8: Unit 8 - Diversity in the Classroom

Learning Guide: The following is an outline of how this course will be conducted, with suggested best practices for students.  The Learning Guides for all units open on the first day of class.  Please review all Learning Guides to access the readings, review assignments, etc. 

Unit 1: Introduction to Diversity in the Classroom

  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity

Reading Assignment

1. The growing diversity in today’s classroom, Digital Promise Global, retrieved from

  • ‘The growing diversity in today’s classroom’ is an article with data from the US.  It has relevant information for many aspects of this course.

2. Pierre du Plessis and Tom Bisschoff, (2007) Diversity and complexity in the classroom: valuing racial and cultural diversity, Educational Research and Review Vol. 2 (9), pp. 245-254, September 2007 
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/ERR/article-full-text-pdf/89639A33699

  • ‘Diversity and complexity in the classroom: valuing racial and cultural diversity’, is an article on diversity and learning styles from South Africa.

3. Rama Cousik (2015). Cultural and functional diversity in the elementary classroom: strategies for teachers. Journal of Multicultural Education.9 (2), 54-67. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.   Retrieved from: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/47231034.pdf

  • ‘Cultural and functional diversity in the elementary classroom’, is article with several strategies for teachers. 

4. Garibay, Juan. (2014) Diversity in the classroom. UCLA Diversity and Faculty Development. UCLA, Los Angeles. Retrieved from: https://equity.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/DiversityintheClassroom2014Web.pdf

  • ‘Diversity in the classroom’, even though this pamphlet addresses university faculty, it contains valuable information that can be applied to the K-12 context, especially with regards to the benefits of a diverse classroom.

5. Hurtado, Sylvia (2001), Linking diversity and educational purpose: how diversity affects the classroom environment and student development, Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action,Cambridge, Harvard Education Publishing Group. Retrieved from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED456199.pdf

  • ‘Linking diversity and educational purpose’, examines how diversity affects the classroom environment and student development.

6. Chambers Associate (2018) 10 diversity organizations and initiatives you should know about. Retrieved from: http://www.chambers-associate.com/where-to-start/commercial-awareness/10-diversity-organizations-and-initiatives-you-should-know-about

  • ‘10 diversity organizations and initiatives you should know about’, provides examples of diversity in the workplace

Optional Videos

In this unit, you will watch two videos.  One where teens express their thoughts about diversity. The other is about diversity in a classroom at a Houston, Texas high school.  In this second video, both girls and boys of different race/ethnicities and cultures sincerely express their difficulties at school.

  • USA TODAY, (12/10/2014) Teens talk about diversity.  Retrieved from: 

  • Fox 26 Report,(4/14/2015)  Diversity in the classroom, Houston, The New Face of America, retrieved from: 

Unit 2: Physical and Sensory Impairments

  • Peer assess Unit 1 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity

Reading Assignment

1. House with no Steps (2018) Types of disabilities. Retrieved from: https://www.hwns.com.au/Resource-centre/Types-of-disabilities/sensory-disability

  • The Australian website, ‘House with no Steps’ (below), has some basic and valuable information on disabilities and impairments.

2. Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) (2018) Physical disability.  Retrieved from:

  • ‘ADCET’ is another Australian website that has explicit descriptions on the impact of physical disabilities on students. When you are on this website please also read about the blind and visually impaired student, the deaf and hearing impaired student and students with other health conditions.

3. Becker, S., Palladino, J. (2016).  Assessing faculty perspectives about teaching and working with students with disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(1), 65-82. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1107476.pdf

  • ‘Assessing faculty perspectives about teaching and working with students with disabilities’ provides insight into what teachers think about working students with disabilities.

4. Algahtani, F. (2017) Teaching students with intellectual disabilities: Constructivism or behaviorism?,
Educational Research and Reviews, Vol. 12(21), pp. 1031-1035.  Retrieved from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1160452.pdf

  • Teaching students with intellectual disabilities: Constructivism or behaviorism’ is a critique of these approaches when implemented with students with intellectual disabilities.

Optional Videos:

1. Teaching students with visual impairments (2018) retrieved from 

2. Batrack, Natalie (2018) Assessment for the visually impaired. Retrieved from: 

3. . Holzrichter, R. (2015) Deaf and hard of hearing students in the classroom. Retrieved from: 

4. Fore, A.  (2016, July 22) Orthopedic impairments [Video]. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS1xVynDI_s

5. Selectivor. (2017) How to keep our classroom safe from food allergy.  Retrieved from: 

Unit 3: Instructional Adaptations for Physical and Sensory Impairments

  • Peer assess Unit 2 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment
  • Begin the Group Activity (Due Unit 6)

Reading Assignment

1. Venn, J. (1989) Students with Physical Disabilities and Health Impairments ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA. ERIC Digest #459.  Retrieved from: https://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9213/health.htm

  • Students with Physical Disabilities and Health Impairments’ is an informative article about how physical disability or orthopedic impairment includes severe disabilities that adversely affect educational performance

 2. Heller, K., Swinehart-Jones, D. (2003) Supporting the educational needs of students with orthopedic impairments. Education and Related Services, v22 n1 p3-24 Fall 2003. ERIC. Retrieved from:  https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ678650

  •  Supporting the educational needs of students with orthopedic impairments’ provides information on orthopedic impairments and the unique knowledge and skills required to provide these students with an appropriate education. Information on current practice is provided, as well as training and technical assistance models that can be used to help provide teachers with the necessary training

3. Shaw, S., et al. (2010). Responding to Students’ Chronic Illnesses. Principal Leadership, 12. National Association of Secondary School Principals.   

  • This article is about students with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, cancer, insulin-dependent diabetes, HIV, cystic fibrosis, who are having a growing presence in schools and about their educational needs.

4. Østensjø,S., et al, (2007) Everyday functioning in young children with cerebral palsy: functional skills, caregiver assistance, and modifications of the environment. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology45: 603–612. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2003.tb00964.x/pdf

  • Everyday functioning in young children with cerebral palsy’ provides information on the functional skills of children with CP.

5. Gebhardt, M., et al. (2015) General and special education teachers’ perceptions of teamwork in inclusive classrooms at elementary and secondary schools. Journal for Educational Research Online, Journal für Bildungsforschung Online Volume 7 (2015), No. 2, 129–146.  Retrieved from:

  • This article examines secondary and elementary school teachers’ attitudes towards teamwork between general education and special education teachers in the classroom.

6. Dev, Poona, (1997) Intrinsic motivation and academic achievement, what does their relationship imply for the classroom teacher?   Remedial and special education, Volume 18, Number 1, Pages 12-19.  Retrieved from:  https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f364/a526307f73cbf8bbc44622d22449dcd5a406.pdf

  • Intrinsic motivation and academic achievement’ examines the very important aspect of intrinsic motivation with students with learning disabilities.


1. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLN), (2012, Aug. 30). What is an IEP?  Retrieved from: 

  • This video explain the meaning and implementation of the Individual Educational Plan (IEP)

2. Understood (2015, Oct. 27). What is an IEP?  Retrieved from: 

  • Modifications vs accommodations: difference and examples’, this video explains and clarifies the difference between modifications vs. accommodations and their respective use:
3. Arella, F. (2017, Aug. 26). Modifications vs. Accommodations: Differences and Examples. Retrieved from: 

  • This video talks about the importance of accommodations and how they differ from modifications (IEP):

4. ECACorg (2016, Jan. 25). Accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities.  Retrieved from:   

  • This video is about the implementation of modifications and accommodations:

5. PBS News Hour (2010, Jun 9). Engaging students with learning disabilities early on. Retrieved from: 

Unit 4: Cognitive, Psychological, and Emotional Differences 

  • Peer assess Unit 3 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment
  • Continue to participate in the Group Activity
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity

Reading Assignment

1. Graetz, J., Sisson, L. (2016) Autism spectrum disorder in the classroom. Oakland University, Oakland, CA. Retrieved from http://wwwp.oakland.edu/Assets/Oakland/cetl/files-and-documents/PowerPoints/Winter2016Workshops/ASDintheClassroom.pdf

  • This is a manual for teachers about autism spectrum disorder in the classroom.  Pages 1-25 explains the characteristics of the disorder, pages 26-40 provides strategies for the classroom.

2. Gabrieli, J. (2009). Dyslexia: A New Synergy between Education and Cognitive Neuroscience. Science,325(5938). 280-283. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20536638

  • This article discusses possible interventions at a young age to correct dyslexia and possible ways cognitive neuroscience can possibly prevent it.

3. Alexander-Passe, N. (2006). How dyslexic teenagers cope: an investigation of self-esteem, coping and depression. DYSLEXIA 12. 256–275. Wiley InterScience Online DOI: 10.1002/dys.318.  Retrieved from  http://www.marklemessurier.com.au/main/workshops/teacher/articles/dyslexic%20teenagers%20coping.pdf

  • This article discusses the coping mechanisms of teenage students with dyslexia.

4. Dyscalculia: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevalence - Dopa | Guide To Psychological Disorders. (2020). Retrieved from https://dopasolution.com/dyscalculia

  •  This website provides information on dyscalculia, its definition, causes, symptoms, and diagnosis, and offers strategies for teachers.

5. Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation Website (n.d.) The educational issues of students with bipolar disorder.  Retrieved from http://www.bpchildresearch.org/edu_forums/issues.html

  •  This website has complete information on Juvenile Bipolar Disorder and how it manifests itself in the classroom

6. Bipolar Children Website. (n.d.). Retrieved from  http://www.bpchildren.com/teachers

  •  This is another valuable information for teachers about how bipolar disorder affects a child in the classroom

7. Campbell, J., et al. (2003). Changing student teachers’ attitudes towards disability and inclusion.  Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 8(4) 369-379. Retrieved from  https://eprints.qut.edu.au/4305/1/4305.pdf

  • In this article, the author analyzes how a study with teachers demonstrated that raising awareness of one disability may lead to changes in attitudes towards disability in general.


1. Glaeser, B., UCTV. (2012). Neurological Basis for learning disabilities: implication for educational practice.  Retrieved from 

  • In this video, Barbara Glaesar provides clear information for teachers about the neurological basis for learning disabilities

2. Brighthighways. (2016). Dear Teacher: heartfelt advice for teachers from students with autism. Retrieved from 

  • In this video students with autism speak out to teachers about how they want to be treated.

Unit 5: Instructional Adaptations for Cognitive, Psychological, and Emotional Differences

  • Peer assess Unit 4 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Continue to participate in the Group Activity
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity

Reading Assignment

1. Larkey, Sue. (2006). Strategies for teaching students with autism spectrum disorder and other students with special needs. Learning Links. Retrieved from 

  • Sue Larky has taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a mainstream and in a Specialist Autism School in Australia. In Learning Links she provides many practical strategies for teachers for students with ASD.

2. Purdie, N., et al. (2002). A review of the research on interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: what works best? Review of Educational Research, 72(1). 61-99. Academic Research Library. Retrieved from http://www.sfu.ca/~jcnesbit/EDUC220/ThinkPaper/PurdieHattie2002.pdf

  • This is a thorough review of ADHD and of the interventions for the disorder. It also demonstrates that the effects on educational outcomes were greater for educational interventions than for other types of intervention

3. LD Online Website. (n.d.). The educator's guide to learning disabilities and ADHD. Retrieved from http://www.ldonline.org/ldbasics

  • This website is a significant source of information about and strategies for students with ADHD and learning disabilities in general.

4. Michaelson, M.T. (2007). An overview of dyscalculia. The Australian Mathematics Teacher, 63(3), Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ776577.pdf

  • This paper defines dyscalculia; considers the origins of dyscalculia in psychological, biological, and pedagogical contexts; describes the criteria required to diagnose students with dyscalculia; and delineates practical methods and instructional designs that can be implemented in the classroom to address the specific learning needs of dyscalculic learners.

5. McLoone, J., Hudson, J., & Rapee, R. (2006). Treating anxiety disorders in a school setting. Education and Treatment of Children, 29(2), 219-242. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42899883

  • To access this resource, you will need to free create an account. In response to recent work that identifies school is an important setting for both the treatment and prevention of anxiety in children, this article reviews three school-based programs to treat anxiety in the classroom.

6. Sutherland, K. et al. (2008). Examining the influence of teacher behavior and classroom context on the behavioral and academic outcomes for students with emotional or behavioral disorders. The Journal of Special Education 41(223). Semantic Scholar extracted view retrieved from

  • The authors detail ways whereby teacher instructional behaviors and classroom contexts may contribute to the relationship between learning and behavior problems of students with emotional and behavior problems (EBD).


1. ResearchAutism. (2013). Understanding autism: a guide for secondary school teachers (part 1). Retrieved from

  • This video is designed to provide general education teachers with strategies for supporting their middle and high school students with autism.

2. Reallookautism. (2011). Anxiety in school. Retrieved from  (3:37)

  • This video shows a method to control anxiety in a third-grader.

3. Numberphile. (2011). Dyscalculia. Retrieved from  (11:02)

  • This video is a down-to-earth conversation about dyscalculia

4. Help with ADHA. (2011). ADHD in the classroom: management strategies and student supports. Retrieved from

  • This video offers an solid information on classroom strategies and supports for students with ADHD

5. Inideadha. (2011). ADHD Classroom Strategies. Retrieved from   (6:28)

  • This video offers practical strategies for teachers for their ADHD students

Unit 6: Racial, Ethnic, Gender. Socioeconomic, and Cultural/Linguistic Diversity

  • Peer assess Unit 5 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete the Group Activity 
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity

Reading Assignment

Socioeconomic Status (SES)

1. Evans, W., Wolf, B., & Alder, N. (2012). The income health gradient. Focus, 30(1), 6-7. Retrieved from https://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/focus/pdfs/foc301b.pdf

  • The authors analyze poverty’s impact on health. Of particular importance for this unit is: Research focused on children.

2. Hackman, D., et al. (2010). Socioeconomic status and the brain: mechanistic insights from human and animal research. Nature Reviews: Neuroscience, 11. 651. Retrieved from https://neuroethics.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/HackmanFarahMeaney2010NRN.pdf

  • The authors analyze how human brain development occurs within a socioeconomic context and childhood socioeconomic status (SSS) influences neural development — particularly of the systems that subserve language and executive function.


3. Coniglio, R. (n.d.) Why gender matters in the classroom, the differences between boys and girls.
TeachHub.com. K-12 Teachers Alliance. Download the PDF file.

  • This brief article points out the differences in characteristics and needs of boys and girls that are sometimes overlooked in elementary teacher training programs.

4. Rudy, S. (2017). Responding to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in school. Perspectives on Urban Education PennGSE. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1143312.pdf

  • This is a reflection by a high school teacher in Philadelphia about whether school systems are creating improved experiences for students as they navigate issues of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity (SOGI) in the school environment.

5. Ithaca College. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.ithaca.edu/wise/https://www.ithaca.edu/wise/

  • This is a website that provides information on sexual orientation and gender identity.


6. Juvonen, J. et al. (2006). Ethnic diversity and perceptions of safety in urban middle schools. Psychological Science, 17(5). Retrieved from http://stopyouthviolence.ucr.edu/pubs_by_topic/8.Ethnic%20diversity.pdf

  • This study reports that ethnic diversity is associated with feelings of safety and social satisfaction in school. Students felt safer, less harassed, and less lonely in more ethnically diverse contexts

7. Benner, A. D., & Yan, N. (2015). Classroom Race/Ethnic Composition, Family-School Connections, and the Transition to School. Applied Developmental Science, 19(3), 127–138. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633067/

  • Race/ethnic diversity and children’s development.

Optional Videos:  

1. Carter, Prudence. (2014). Why diversity is not enough to reach real integration in schools. TEDxStanford. Retrieved from

2. Cummins, J. (2011). Implementing Multiliteracies Pedagogy within Multilingual School Communities. University of Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved from

3. Dr. J. Cummins, a pioneer in multilingual schools, examines multiliteracies in Canada Schwarzer, D. et al. (2003). Fostering Multiliteracy in a Linguistically Diverse Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/~bashforth/305_PDF/305_ME3/LanguageVarieties/LanguageVarities_LangArts/FosteringMultiliteracyMonolingualTeacher_LA_Jul2003.pdf

  • The purpose of this article is to describe the authors’ collaborative work within the multiliterate classroom and to provide some suggestions for mainstream teachers who are interested in supporting linguistic diversity.

 Unit 7: Instructional Adaptations for Racial, Ethnic, Gender. Socioeconomic, and Cultural/Linguistic Diversity

  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete and submit the Written Assignment

Reading Assignment

Socio-Economic Status Diversity

1. What should teachers understand in order to address student diversity in their classrooms? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/div/cresource/q2/p06/

  • This page offers a clear explanation of the socio-economic diversity in a classroom and analysis of the need of low-income children.

2. Devlin, M., et al. (2012). Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Practical advice for teaching staff. Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.lowses.edu.au/assets/Practical%20Advice%20for%20Teaching%20Staff.pdf

  • This report provides classroom strategies for low-income students.

3. Koball, Heather, Jiang, Yang. (2018). Basic facts about low-income children: children under 18 years, 2016. National Center for Children in Poverty. Columbia University. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_1194.html

  • On this website you will find very current data on poverty in the United States and how poverty cuts across all races/ethnicities. Download the 10 page report, Basic Facts about Low Income Children.

4. Izard, E. (2016). Teaching children from poverty and trauma. National Education Association (NEA). Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED594465.pdf

  • This report contains valuable information and strategies for teachers with low-income students

Cultural/Linguistic Diversity

5. Cummins, J., et al. (n.d.). ELL students speak for themselves: identity texts and literacy engagement in multilingual classrooms. Retrieved from https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/media/users/ccm246/Haynes_2010/ELLidentityTexts.pdf

  • This article analyzes the use of identity texts in the classroom.

6. The Multiliteracies Project. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://multiliteraciesproject.com/

  • Website for resources for teachers in multilingual classrooms

Gender Diversity

7. Bonomo, V. (2010). Gender matters in elementary education. Educational Horizons. 257-264. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ895692.pdf

  • The author analyzes in great detail the behavior characteristics and academic needs of boys and girls.

8. Edmunds, C. (2016). Gender and sexuality diverse student inclusive practices: challenges facing educators. Journal of Initial Teacher Inquiry, 2. Retrieved from

  • The author examined the literature on gender and sexuality and the recommendation is that schools need to learn strategies to make GSD students feel safe, teachers need to learn how to integrate GSD topics into their curriculum and address GSD issues within the school, and students need to learn how to understand the gender and sexuality diverse environments in which they are growing up.

Racial/Ethnic Diversity

9. Rivera, D. (2013). How School Diversity, Peer-Relations, and Ethnic Identity Shape Ethnocultural Empathy Among Latino and Asian American Students. McNair Scholars Journal, (15)
Download the PDF file.

  • This article is an example of how research of race and ethnicity is turning to the study of ethnocultural empathy. The author examines ethnic differences in school diversity; proportion of cross-race friendships; ethnic identity; and ethnocultural empathy.

Unit 8: Diversity in the Classroom

  • Peer assess Unit 7 Written Assignment
  • Read the Learning Guide and Reading Assignments
  • Participate in the Discussion Assignment (post, comment, and rate in the Discussion Forum)
  • Complete the Portfolio Activity
  • Complete and submit the anonymous Course Evaluation

Reading Assignment

1. Gay, G. (2013). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. Curriculum Inquiry. 43(1), 48-70. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Retrieved from https://www.williamjames.edu/about/welcome/upload/teaching-to-cultural-diversity.pdf

  • The author analyzes the need to restructure teacher attitudes and beliefs about cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity by centering culture and difference in the teaching process and establishing pedagogical connections between culturally responsive teaching and subjects and skills routinely taught in schools

2. Williams, R. (n.d.). Effective diversity practices in the classroom. LGHS, 1-4. Retrieved from https://www.polk-fl.net/districtinfo/departments/humanresourceservices/documents/diversity_ReginaWilliams.pdf

  • The author is a high school teacher. She analyzes effective diversity practices from a teacher’s perspective.

3. Ruggs, E. & Hebl, M. (2012) Diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness for classroom and outreach education. In B. Bogue & E. Cady (Eds.). Apply Research to Practice (ARP) Resources,1-16. Retrieved from http://teach.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ARP_DiversityInclusionCulturalAwareness_Overview.pdf

  • The article is an in-depth analysis of diversity and existing barriers for minority students in the US.

4. Howard, Gary (2007) As diversity grows, so must we. Educational Leadership, Volume 64 | Number 6: Responding to Changing Demographics Pages 16-22. Retrieved from http://www.pathway.hpschools.net/UserFiles/Servers/Server_107102/File/As%20Diversity%20Grows,%20So%20Must%20We.pdf

  • This article describes professional development activities in specific suburban school districts that are experiencing rapid growth in their proportions of students of color, culturally and linguistically diverse students, and students from low-income families. As the author has worked with these districts, he has identified five phases of professional development that help transform school staffs to meet the challenge of changing demographics: (1) building trust; (2) engaging personal culture; (3) confronting issues of social dominance and social justice; (4) transforming instructional practices; and (5) engaging the entire school community.

5. Alsubaie, Merfat Ayesh (2015) Examples of current issues in the multicultural classroom. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(10) 86-89, Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1081654.pdf

  • The author analyzes how classrooms are becoming increasingly multicultural, and this leads to new challenges for teachers.

6. Miguel, E. (2004). Tribe or nation? Nation building and public goods in Kenya versus Tanzania. Retrieved from http://emiguel.econ.berkeley.edu/assets/assets/miguel_research/47/_Paper__Tribe_or_Nation_-_Nation_Building_and_Public_Goods_in_Kenya_versus_Tanzania.pdf

  • This article examines how central government nation-building policies affect interethnic cooperation, by comparing the relationship between local ethnic diversity and public goods across two nearby rural districts, one in western Kenya and one in western Tanzania, using colonial-era national boundary placement as a "natural experiment."

7. Jackson, R. (2017). Policy, research, and practice for ‘inclusive’ religious education. Presentation of a Council of Europe Project. Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education Nordidactica, 3, 111-115.. Retrieved from https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1145344/FULLTEXT01.pdf

  • This short article explains the Council of Europe Project’s aims to extend well beyond increasing tolerance of religious and non-religious diversity. As the Project proposal notes, adding the dimension of religion ‘…requires revisiting and updating the concept of intercultural education in general, to ensure that all education contributes harmoniously to the four pillars of education for the twenty-first century outlined in the Delors Report’ (Council of Europe 2003). These are: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be (UNESCO 1996).

Optional Video

1. Fox 26 Report(2015). Diversity in the classroom, Houston, The New Face of America, retrieved from 

  •  In this video, high school students express their thoughts about the challenges of being in a very diverse school environment.

Course Requirements:

Discussion Assignments & Response Posts/Ratings
Some units in this course require that you complete a Discussion Assignment. You are required to develop and post a substantive response to the Discussion Assignment in the Discussion Forum. A substantive response is one that fully answers the question that has been posed by the instructor. In addition, you must extend the discussion by responding to at least three (3) of your peers’ postings in the Discussion Forum and by rating their posts. Instructions for proper posting and rating (out of a 10 point scale) are provided inside the Discussion Forum for each week. Discussion Forums are only active for each current and relevant learning week, so it is not possible to contribute to the forum once the learning week has come to an end. Failure to participate in the Discussion Assignment by posting in the Discussion Forum and responding to peers as required may result in failure of the course.

Written Assignments & Assessment Forms
Most units in this course require that you complete a Written Assignment, which may come in many forms (case study, research paper, etc.). You are required to submit your assignments by the indicated deadlines and, in addition, to peer assess three (3) of your classmates’ assignments according to the instructions found in the Assessment Form, which is provided to you during the following week. During this peer assessment period, you are expected to provide details in the feedback section of the Assessment Form, indicating why you awarded the grade that you did to your peer. Please note that each assignment grade is comprised of a combination of your submission (90%) and your peer assessments (10%). Failure to submit Written Assignments and/or Assessment Forms may result in failure of the course.

Group Activities
During this course, you will be required to complete work as part of a small group. Group work is an important component of your coursework, as it allows you to deepen relationships with classmates, and gain a more thorough understanding of the topics presented in this course. Further, group work mimics the business environment in which projects are often conducted in small teams across different departments. You will be randomly assigned to your groups and are expected to work with your teammates throughout the term for all group activities.

Portfolio Activities
Portfolio Activities are tools for self-reflection and evaluation within the context of the course. These activities are designed as a means to document and critically reflect upon your learning process. Activities you develop for this course will be kept in your Research and Practice Portfolio and will be important as you progress towards the final courses in your program, particularly the Advanced Practice and Capstone courses.  Ideally, you will draw from your coursework and experiences, as well as what you’ve learned in other courses, and your own current teaching practice to showcase your overall growth and examine ways in which you can continue to develop and sharpen your research interests and expand your cadre of instructional methods.

The Research and Practice Portfolio
Throughout the M.Ed. Program, you will be building a portfolio of instructional strategies and materials, and acquiring knowledge and skills for advanced professional practice.  Students begin building their portfolio right from start.  It serves as a repository for research findings and sample units and lessons.  Students use it to archive ideas and resources related to instructional methods, classroom management, and assessment.  The portfolio supports your own self-reflection on changes that demonstrate growth in professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes that is part of the Capstone experience.    The component parts of the Research and Practice Portfolio include:

  • Reflective Portfolio Activities
  • Research
  • Teaching and Learning Resources

Course Forum
The Course Forum is the place to raise issues and questions relating to the course. It is regularly monitored by the instructors and is a good place to meet fellow students taking the same course. While it is not required to participate in the Course Forum, it is highly recommended.

Course Policies:

Grading Components and Weights
Each graded component of the course will contribute some percentage to the final grading scale, as indicated here:

Discussion Assignments  20%
Written Assignments    25%
Group Activity  30%
Reflective Portfolio Activities  25%
TOTAL 100%

Grading Scale
This course will follow the standard 100-point grading scale defined by the University of the People, as indicated here:

Letter Grade
Grade Scale Grade Points
A+ 98-100 4.00
A 93-97 4.00
A- 90-92 3.67
B+ 88-89 3.33
B 83-87 3.00
B- 80-82 2.67
C+ 78-79 2.33
C 73-77 2.00
C- 70-72 0.00
D+ 68-69 0.00
D 63-67 0.00
D- 60-62 0.00
F Under 60 0.00

Grade Appeal

If you believe that the final grade you received for a course is erroneous, unjust, or unfair, please contact your course instructor. This must be done within seven days of the posted final grade. For more information on this topic, please review the Grade Appeal Procedure in the University Catalog.

Non-participation is characterized by lack of any assignment submissions, inadequate contributions to the Discussion Forums, and/or lack of peer feedback to Discussion/Written Assignments. Also, please note the following important points about course participation:

  • Assignments must be submitted on or before the specified deadline. A course timeline is provided in the course schedule, and the instructor will specify deadlines for each assignment.
  • Any student showing non-participation for two weeks (consecutive or non-consecutive) is likely to automatically fail the course.
  • Occasionally there may be a legitimate reason for submitting an assignment late. Most of the time, late assignments will not be accepted and there will be no make-up assignments.
  • All students are obligated to inform their instructor in advance of any known absences which may result in their non-participation.

Academic Honesty and Integrity
When you submit any work that requires research and writing, it is essential to cite and reference all source material. Failure to properly acknowledge your sources is known as “plagiarism” – which is effectively passing off an individual’s words or ideas as your own. University of the People adheres to a strict policy of academic honesty and integrity. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in sanctions by the University, including dismissal from the University or course failure. For more information on this topic, please review the Academic Integrity Policy in the University Catalog.

Any materials cited in this course should be referenced using the style guidelines established by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA format is widely used in colleges and universities across the world and is one of several styles and citation formats required for publication in professional and academic journals. Purdue University’s Online Writing LAB (OWL) is a free website that provides excellent information and resources for understanding and using the APA format and style. The OWL website can be accessed here: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html

Code of Conduct
University of the People expects that students conduct themselves in a respectful, collaborative, and honest manner at all times. Harassment, threatening behavior, or deliberate embarrassment of others will not be permitted. Any conduct that interferes with the quality of the educational experience is not allowed and may result in disciplinary action, such as course failure, probation, suspension, or dismissal. For more information on this topic, please review the Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog.