Getting CCOMFE in Times of Crisis

On Thursday, September 17th, I will be leading a roundtable discussion for the annual fall symposium on Diversity and Inclusion in Research and Teaching (DIRECTO) at Florida State University. Joining me for the discussion will be my friends and colleagues Marcela Herdova (Assistant Professor, Florida State University) and Sarah Vincent (Assistant Teaching Faculty, Florida State University).

For more information about the symposium, you can go to: https://directo.fsu.edu. You can register by going to:  HTTPS://FLA.ST/34LOPM3

In this roundtable discussion, we will rely on the CCOMFE model (Gurung, 2020) as the framework for our discussion. Researchers at Oregon State University recently presented data that post the COVID shutdown, students and faculty had better experiences in classes that were characterized by six key components: Compassion, Clarity, Organization, Multifaceted, Flexibility, and Engagement—CCOMFE classes. The goal of the roundtable is to discuss how the six facets of the CCOMFE model may be adopted and adapted to promote diversity and inclusion in teaching and learning. The topics to be discussed include the relationship between the CCOMFE model and the following:

  • Diversifying the syllabus/course readings
  • Inclusive teaching and universal design
  • Issues of identity in teaching (both instructor identity and student identity)
  • Building an academic community that promotes inclusion and cooperation

The theme of the fall symposium is Diversity and Inclusion in Times of Crisis. All six facets that characterize the CCOMFE model are relevant to the focus and the theme of the event. As a preview to our discussion, I want to touch on three of those here.

Compassion – Compassion has been a key approach to teaching for many of us over the past few months. As faculty members and instructors, we must be sensitive to not only to the health economic effects of the pandemic on our students, but also to the effects of the renewed protests, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. Now we can add the impact of natural disasters like hurricanes, storms (like the de recho across the Midwest), and the massive fires in the West. How can we use compassion to meet our students where they are and make sure that they can be successful in light of the ongoing anxiety and upheaval?

Multifaceted – Multifaceted courses provide students with different ways of engaging with the course material and with each other. This is an important part of building a community in a remote class, especially during a pandemic. I would argue, however, that this is a practice that we should keep after we return to face to face instruction. Building these rich connections would be a boon for students who feel like outsiders in the university community because of factors like race, ethnicity, nationality, age, ability, or parental status.

Engagement – By being present for students through frequent emails, videos, quick responses, etc., and by involving students in post-lecture activities, we develop a learning community that is more engaged. Engagement does more than contribute to learning outcomes. It helps us build a strong and dynamic community of learners. 

I am really looking forward to this discussion. If you want to join us, click on the link above to register for the symposium.

Published by Tracie Mahaffey

Senior Teaching Faculty and Director of Undergraduate Studies Department of Philosophy Florida State University

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