Equity Mindsets


Address opportunity gaps, rather than achievement gaps

In Educators Need To Shift Focus, H. Richard Milner argues that to better serve racially diverse students, we need to address opportunity gaps—including differences in students’ experiences based on economic resources, rigor and relevance of curricula, and expectations of teachers.

Cultivating an equity mindset

Recognizing and shifting teachers’ expectations is a key strategy in addressing opportunity gaps. In Start Where You Are But Don’t Stay There: Understanding Diversity, Opportunity Gaps, and Teaching in Today’s Classroom, Dr. Milner provides an analytical tool designed to help teachers (and researchers and theorists) critically reflect upon five key educational practices tied to opportunity gaps.

The framework originated in Dr. Milner’s work with teachers in K-12, and has now been adopted for use by college educators across the U.S. In Beyond a Test Score: Explaining Opportunity Gaps in Educational Practice, Dr. Milner argues that educators can use these constructs to reflect on both positive and negative aspects of practice.

Cultivating habits of mind

A growing body of research points to the value of helping diverse students develop greater self-efficacy by actively cultivating the habits of mind linked with navigating what many call the “hidden curriculum”—the procedures and policies—of higher education. In a 2011 paper, Redefining College Readiness, David T. Conley argued that college faculty need to actively help students develop the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

A related body of work digs into teaching students how to manage themselves as learners in contexts across the curriculum. Jennifer Fletcher makes this case in a 2015 essay, Critical Habits of Mind: Exposing the Process of Development, describing a collaborative classroom-research project conducted by developmental educators at three institutions. Saundra McGuire makes a similar argument in her 2015 book, Teach Students How to Learn.

A study conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes, documents the efficacy of this work in fostering greater student engagement and deeper learning.