Diversity in the Classroom: Supporting Student Co-Cultures and Intercultural Effectiveness in the Basic Course


  • Krystalyn Morton George Mason University
  • Kimberlie Fair George Mason University




The purpose of this professional development session was to introduce new instructors to theoretical constructs related to diversity in the classroom and provide activities to get them thinking about how they can better prepare themselves for managing classroom diversity. Through the exploration of cultures and co-cultures, instructors learned how there are many different layers to individuals and how they interact to form the whole self (e.g. student, instructor). Constructs such as continuous learning (e.g. self-awareness, exploration), interpersonal engagement (e.g. global mindset, relationship interest), and hardiness (e.g. open-mindedness, emotional resilience) were explored (The Intercultural Communication Institute, 2011). Inclusivity, responding to student comments, embracing diversity, sensitivity, and responsiveness to differences in perspectives were also discussed.

A classroom activity that guided students through an exploration of their cultures and cocultures is presented. In addition, a series of discussion prompts for faculty reflection on potential classroom challenges is provided.