Students from diverse backgrounds provide different points of view and new ways to solve problems. Therefore diversity should be encouraged and supported in the classroom and in research groups. Below I have organized my beliefs of diversity and inclusion into three areas: in the classroom, research, and service and outreach.
Undergraduate students come from various social, economic, and educational backgrounds, which can create wide gaps in knowledge and cause those from disadvantaged backgrounds to struggle. Therefore, one of the main goals of a professor, especially in introductory courses, is to create an even playing field where all students can succeed. I strive to create a collaborative, open-minded environment in my classroom using flipped (or half-flipped) classrooms and active learning. By encouraging group work, the students are more focused on group understanding rather than competing for the highest grade, which is common in lecture-based classes. This group-work-based environment is helpful for students who come into the course with a lower understanding. Not only can they ask questions to the professor during class, but they can also get help from other students. I also make my office hours an approachable experience, so struggling students have an easy avenue to get help. This one-on-one time during office hours can make a difference for students by clearing up problems early so they can go on to succeed in the course.
All undergraduate students with interest should be able to participate in a research group. Not only does performing research increase their confidence as physicists, but it also gives the students valuable skills that will carry them forward after graduation. I strive to make my research group diverse by lowering the threshold and requirements for students joining my group and encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to apply. I want a diverse research group where all students can succeed and feel confident about their work. In addition, I aim to include students who would not have the opportunity to have an off-campus research experience.
Finally, diversity and inclusion are important factors when creating service projects on campus and outreach projects the college can do for the surrounding area. For service projects on campus, the coordinators should consider how the projects will impact a diverse group of students. The coordinators should also be diverse to allow for different viewpoints and ways of thinking. Additionally, a college must participate in outreach opportunities involving children, predominantly in low-income areas. Getting children excited about science and college is a great way to help encourage these students to attend university, especially since many children in low-income areas could become first-generation college students. An outreach team also needs to have a high level of diversity so that students can see themselves represented as scientists (even if the scientist are undergraduate students).