Types of Student Diversity

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Diversity in the classroom leads to rich, exciting, and fulfilling social experiences for students. In this lesson, we will discuss teaching various types of diverse populations.

Student Diversity

Think about your own experiences with diversity. What have you learned from people who are different from you? Student diversity can contribute to the learning experience.

Diversity refers to a range of differences, and it's important for educators to be culturally aware so that all students feel valued and respected. Cultural awareness is a degree of understanding of people from various backgrounds. Let's learn more about types of student diversity.

Race, Ethnicity, and Language

When many people think about diversity, racial and ethnic diversity is the first thing that comes to mind.

  • Race refers to physical characteristics, such as the color of a person's skin.
  • Ethnicity refers to the cultural and linguistic identity of a family's nation of origin.

Historic issues with segregation, racial discrimination, and the politics of immigration may influence how students perceive themselves and those who are different from them. Teachers can support culturally and racially diverse students by selecting materials and experiences that represent a variety of central figures with assorted points of view. For example, comparing personal accounts of enslaved persons to court documents related to slavery can reflect racial diversity by looking at the different points of view.

Gender and Socioeconomic Diversity

Some elements of diversity go beyond race and ethnicity. Researchers have long reported the negative impacts of traditional gender roles on learning. Frequently, boys are encouraged to succeed in math and science, while girls find that interests in literature and art are more socially acceptable for them. Teachers should be cautious of ways in which their own per-conceived ideas and biases influence student success.

Socioeconomic differences can also affect the learning environment in a variety of ways. For example, students coming from poverty may have less access to early childhood education.

Further, social class affects prior experiences. For example, a child with limited resources may be accustomed to creatively turning available resources into toys and tools while a child who comes from a more affluent family may have more access to travel, museums, and other experiences. Social class may affect how students dress, school supplies, and after school activities. Teachers who are aware of these differences can build a sense of community in the classroom and close the achievement gap.

Religion and Family

Other types of diversity in the classroom are related to family values. Diverse classrooms frequently have students with a variety of religious beliefs. One class may include students who are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, or one of the many of sects, denominations, or other religions that exist in the world.

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