Friday, February 25, 2022

Helping Faculty Become More Culturally Responsive and Equity-Centered in Thought and Action

Students need higher education institutions to see all their identifiers in the classroom and during their interactions. For faculty and staff to see the complete student, they must examine their personal stories, biases, and practices while assessing the impact each could have on the institution's equity work. On many higher education campuses, there has been training with consultants, book studies, and professional development; moving from pedagogy to action is a challenge. However, what is the ignitor for movement from talk to action? What is an effective way to help faculty and staff become more culturally responsive and equity-centered in both thought and action?

This study will first engage in Factuality, a timed online interactive experience that simulates structural inequality in America. While participating in Factuality, participants assume the identities of specific characters encountering a series of fact-based advantages and limitations based on the intersection of their race, class, gender, faith, sexual orientation, age, and ability. Participants will read and discuss the book, From Equity Talk to Equity Walk by Tia Brown McNair, Estela Mara Bensimon, and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux. As a culminating reflective opportunity, participants will have the option to self-report on their 21-day equity walk, where they will have the chance to demonstrate their equity practices in their learning environments.

Motivation for Doing the Study:


Action is an essential part of equity work, but it can be challenging because it forces us to confront and examine some of our socialization and personal biases. After experiencing several lecture-style trainings and book studies, the researchers were curious if a combination of learning experiences could ignite the action needed to move equity forward. Dr. Handy, a former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at a private P-12 school, knows first-hand the challenges of shifting a 175-year-old institution forward on equity issues. Dr. Fitzpatrick has diverse experiences helping individuals and organizations ensure their actions are evidence of their commitment to the students, families, and communities that they serve. Together, this team wanted to explore a specific gaming experience followed by the book with an action framework to help provide faculty and staff the ignitor needed to build their capacity and fuel their equity work in thought and action.


Background on Researchers:

Dr. Teresa Handy
Dr. Teresa Handy is a Core Faculty member in the Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education Leadership Program in the College of Education at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Teresa has been a Turn the Tide Facilitator at UAGC, a Power of One Faculty member, and a Donna Beegle Certified Poverty Coach. She earned the Ed.D. specializing in Education Leadership and the Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Memphis, where she earned the distinction of Outstanding Leadership and Policy Studies Doctoral Student. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Chicago. Teresa completed her undergraduate work in Sociology and Education at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She has worked in public, charter, and private schools as an administrator, early childhood and elementary educator, and a learning specialist. She has also served as a diversity consultant, helping local and national organizations develop their inclusion initiatives. Her recent children's book, "There is an Elephant in my Ear," was written for children ages 3-5 to help begin courageous conversations about differences in the preschool classroom.

You may contact her at


Dr. Tamecca Fitzpatrick

Dr. Tamecca Fitzpatrick is the Program Chair for the Master of Art in Early Childhood Education Leadership in the College of Education at the University of Arizona Global Campus. She obtained her Ed.D specializing in Early Childhood Education from the University of North Texas. Her Master's degree in Education and bachelor's degree in Psychology were earned at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Her work experience includes positions as an elementary classroom teacher, a Diversity Scholar Lecturer, Professor, and Author.

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