At Oberlin, the HHMI team acknowledges that the pursuit of inclusive excellence will most likely involve changes to pedagogy and content in addition to STEM climate in and beyond the classroom. To promote institutional transformation, Oberlin's HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant will support seven STEM departments in funding a visiting faculty position, which will provide course release for continuing members of the faculty and teaching staff to participate in the Departmental Action and Reflection Teams (DARTs).
Broadly speaking, the goal of the DART program at Oberlin is to increase the persistence of underrepresented minority students in STEM. Because data show that the largest loss of students occurs following the introductory course and that increasing students sense of belonging and efficacy are important to retaining students in a major, the HHMI team at Oberlin anticipates some possible outcomes for the DART departments:
Building reflective and iterative processes to promote inclusion;
Increasing individual, departmental, and institutional capacity for inclusion;
Changing department culture;
Changing introductory courses (curriculum and use of inclusive teaching practices); and
Changing roadblock courses (curriculum and use of inclusive teaching practices)
Faculty participating in the DARTS during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2020 academic years are expected to meet weekly, completing relevant readings on topics such as the theory of organizational change, stereotype threat and implicit bias, racism, classism and sexism, and core social motives. Readings will be assigned and scheduled based on a syllabus developed by the HHMI team at Oberlin. DART teams will also participate in monthly meetings with other DARTs and/or faculty at Kenyon College, a member of Oberlin's peer implementation cluster. All together, DART members receiving a course release will be expected to spend approximately three to four hours per week on DART activities over the course of the DART year.
THE DART PROCESS
As part of the DART process, the HHMI Initiative at Oberlin intended to further the development and education of DART participants through a workshop led by Science Museum of Minnesota's IDEAL Center held during August 2020. This workshop has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Within departments, DART years will involve four phases of visioning and change:
Phase 1: Information Gathering and Visioning
At the start of the fall semester, DART members will inform themselves about: a) the current situation in their department or curricular area, and b) best practices related to inclusive excellence. This process will include review of institutional data and departmental assessment. Participant will also be expected to conduct reading of relevant literature on organizational change; stereotype threat and imposter syndrome; racism, sexism and classism in educational structures; and inclusive teaching practices. DARTs will formulate a vision statement based on their findings.
Phase 2: Idea generation
In the second half of the fall semester, DART groups will begin developing ideas that advance the vision statement, including both brainstorming and evaluative phases. A short list of initial ideas will be shared across departments.
Phase 3: Optimization
During the start of the spring semester, the top several ideas from the shortlist will be judged generatively against the criteria for success laid out in the vision statements. Based on feedback and discussion throughout the broader HHMI community at Oberlin, DARTs will select the appropriate approach(es) to pursue.
Phase 4: Implementation Planning
Planning will extend from mid-spring semester until the end of the academic year. DARTs will develop implementation and assessment plans to achieve their vision statements, and the beginning phases of these plans will be put in place during the following year.