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Teaching Across Cultural Strengths


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About the Author

Alicia Fedelina Chavez is Associate Professor in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of New Mexico. She served as collegiate leader, student affairs professional, and faculty member in universities around the country. Her scholarship is centered in facilitating understanding and balance between cultural epistemologies and ways of being in professional practice. She works from a belief that higher education institutions and societies benefit from garnering the strengths of many peoples, cultures, and nations. Dr. Chavez is published in areas of culture and college teaching as well as identity and collegiate leadership. Her publications include a co-authored book on culture and college teaching, Web Based Teaching across Culture and Age (Springer, 2013), as well as two co-edited books on identity and leadership in higher education, Identity & Leadership: Informing our Lives, Informing our Practice (NASPA, 2013) and, Indigenous Leadership in Higher Education (Routledge, in press). Her academic journal articles include: Clan, Sage, and Sky: Indigenous, Hispano and Mestizo Narratives of Learning in New Mexico Context; Toward a Multicultural Ecology of Teaching and Learning; and Learning to Value the "Other" A Model of Diversity Development. Susan Diana Longerbeam is Associate Professor in Educational Psychology at Northern Arizona University, where she leads a graduate student affairs program. She served as a university health services director and interim dean of students at Oregon State University, and holds a Ph.D. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, a masters in Health Services Administration from Antioch University, and a bachelors in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She served on the ACPA Commission on Professional Preparation and the NASPA Faculty Fellows and Council. Dr. Longerbeam's scholarship focuses on culture, campus climate and student success in higher education. Recent publications include: "We cannot reach them": Chinese undergraduate student perceptions of the U.S. campus climate" (2013); Putting old tensions to rest: Integrating multicultural education and global learning to advance student development (2013); Developing openness to diversity in living-learning program participants (2010); and Contemporary college contexts: College environments for student learning and retention at a southwestern U.S. university (2010); and reflective work: Encounters with angels: A struggle to return home from study abroad (2015); One journey of compassion: My search for inspiriting leadership (2013); "You home? Meet me on the stairway: " Lessons of living together (2009).


"Teaching Across Cultural Strengths is a shining star in a night sky of relative darkness on inclusive teaching in the academy. Through their practical yet creative approach, Chavez and Longerbeam make a pivotal impact on the ways culture plays out between and among students and teacher in postsecondary education. Its contribution to students of color and women's learning is substantial, with clear application to these groups as well as others in all academic disciplines. In fact, by placing primary emphasis on culture, this book could bring about a movement to reform the relationship between student and teacher in higher education producing optimal learning in every field. The work presented by these authors can significantly transform teaching on any college campus with a progressive view of learning. Faculty in every academic discipline concerned about student learning and how it occurs through their teaching will find this book practical and insightful. Student affairs educators responsible for professional development, or with deep concern for out of class learning, will find this imperative reading to assist students in their learning, growth, and development. Chavez and Longerbeam get high praise for illuminating the place of culture in post-secondary learning."-- (07/01/2015)
"With a focus on student success, especially for this generation with the most diverse students ever to attend college, Teaching Across Cultural Strengths, puts the attention just where it belongs: in the magical arena of the classroom where learning is conjured and on the influence of students' and faculty's cultural identities on how and whether we learn. Every faculty member should read this book. Chavez and Longerbeam provide a richly revised understanding of the dynamics of teaching and of the responsibilities of faculty to learn about this new terrain. They need to do so with the same passion and dedication as they do their area of scholarly expertise. Peppered with a steady range of specific examples of how to create more culturally inclusive pedagogies persuasively supported by faculty testimonies of pleasure at how students are more engaged, no one can pretend it can't be done in their courses. The moving quotes from students threaded throughout the book should prick the conscience of those immobilized into only one form of teaching. Faculty need only to listen to students in this book--and in their own classes--to realize the transformative possibilities they can unleash in their classrooms."-- (07/01/2015)
"Teaching Across Cultural Strengths is an important book that can transform college teaching. It provides a breakthrough approach to addressing the urgent problem of how to teach effectively to an increasingly multicultural and international student body now enrolling in our colleges and universities. Beginning with an important question, 'How does my culture manifest itself in my teaching?', the authors take us on a journey of self-discovery. Their objective is to explain why and how to 'balance the application of diverse cultural strengths to deepen student learning through enhancement of teaching and introspection.' The results are a book filled with rich insights, techniques, best practices, and personal stories of success about what works to engage both students and faculty in college classrooms today."-- (06/01/2015)
"An imbalance in the teaching and learning situation exists when the teacher teaches from one cultural perspective and the student's primary learning experiences come from another cultural perspective. To enhance the possibility that the student will master the learning situation and achieve its deep objectives, it is important that college teachers expand their cultural reach and include multicultural perspectives in the teaching and learning situation that recognizes the cultural assets that students bring to the classroom.

This book offers a comprehensive set of guidelines based on a sound theoretical foundation, and empirical research that will enable college teachers to narrow the gap in cross cultural teaching and student learning and assist teachers in transforming learning for all students across the many cultures that exist in the classroom. By following the steps outlined in this book, teachers can progressively learn about the role of culture in learning while transforming their teaching through introspection, reflection, practice and the application of new teaching pedagogies that deepen student learning. This...brilliant and has the potential to literally change the face of college teaching and learning from a multicultural perspective. No one who reads this text and reflects on its message can continue to teach in the old monocultural ways of teaching and learning."-- (05/01/2015)

"Teaching Across Cultural Strengths is a guide for faculty seeking to apply a cultural lens to their teaching practice; the goal is to learn how to 'draw from the cultural strengths of all peoples in service toward equitable and effective teaching and learning'. A central thesis is that university teaching in the United States follows an Oxford or Germanic model that has not adequately served students of color. The authors describe a dissonance between an individuated cultural framework characterized by private, compartmentalized, and linear learning and an integrated cultural framework characterized by mutual, cyclical, and contextually-dependent learning. The intent is not to favor one cultural approach over another but to stress the strengths and potential rewards of pedagogy combining a wider array of cultural norms.

When I was in grade school, Choose Your Own Adventure books were all the rage. These titles were formatted in a way that let the reader jump around in the text to create her own story. In Teaching Across Cultural Strengths/i>, Chavez and Longerbeam capture a similar spirit by arranging advice, questions, and activity prompts so that faculty can create their own workshop experience either individually or as a group. No one can be a perfect teacher but we are all called to be reflective teachers. In form and content, this book can be a useful asset on that journey and it is highly recommended."-- (09/01/1916)

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