Into the Conversation: Transformative Learning

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“No textbook is created by one person,” writes Steve McCornack and Joe Ortiz, the authors of the groundbreaking new edition of the human communication textbook Choices & Connections. “What we teach, and how we teach it, can have a transformative impact on our students.” I’m proud to be one of the many people who helped Steve and Joe create this new edition, as a founding member of the editorial board for Diversity, Inclusion, and Culturally-Responsive Pedagogy (DICR). Collectively, what we accomplished with this new edition of Choices & Connections is to create a book that all of our students can see themselves in. In doing this, I believe this new edition will transform the lives of our students for the better. To me, that’s the ultimate mark of achievement.

In 2018, the National Communication Association (NCA) published nine learning outcomes for courses in the communication discipline. The Learning Outcomes in Communication (LOC) project was a faculty-driven initiative to voice specific learning outcomes for the discipline and stakeholders—students, graduates, parents, employers, and even college & university administrators. In all, these nine outcomes form the essence of teaching and learning in our discipline. Of these nine LOCs, one in particular addresses a key issue often overlooked by publishers and institutions yet nonetheless fundamental to the notion of equity in education and society--embracing diversity and promoting inclusion: “LOC #8 Utilize communication to embrace difference.” This learning outcome, which can be read in its entirety here, was the foundation on which our DICR Board and the revision of Choices & Connections was built.

The DICR board was formed by eight diverse communication scholars from around the country, including me, who have taken on leadership or demonstrated a passion for advocacy for diversity and inclusion. We had one distinct task: together, we would re-examine the photography, graphics, examples, and the text to create a better, more inclusive set of learning materials. 

I believe that's what we did. Working with the editors at Macmillan Learning, and in partnership with Steve and Joe, we were able to collectively create a more diverse and inclusive text, through the photo program (see the photo of Serena Williams on the Chapter 2 opener, which I discussed in my previous blog), examples (see the example of Dolores Huerta in Chapter 1), and topic coverage (see new Chapter 3: Culture and Gender). For more on these examples, take a look at the DICR microsite here.

So, I’m especially excited that together we are undertaking an effort that can exponentially change the publishing industry. We know that diversity and inclusive representation is sound, culturally-responsive pedagogy. We know that what this textbook looks like will matter to students. And, we are just getting started.

The board has reconvened for a second term to work on another Macmillan Learning text that you will be learning more about in the future. We remain committed to our mission: "to advance and evolve our understanding of diversity, inclusiveness, and culturally responsive pedagogy to promote their fundamental, not ancillary, place in the development of learning materials.” I see our editorial board as the beginning of a movement to transform the development of higher education learning materials, one textbook at a time.

             Professor Martin speaks on college success, as well as diversity & inclusion. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram at ThreePsPodcast.

             Learn more about the DICR editorial board here.

About the Author
S. Lizabeth Martin is a visiting professor of Communications at Georgia State University, Atlanta. Prior to Atlanta, the Florida native spent almost 20 years in various positions at Florida’s colleges & universities. Most notably, she spent 10 years with Palm Beach State College as a tenured faculty member and journalism advisor. Ms. Martin is an editorial board member for Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Culturally-Responsive (DICR) Pedagogy with Macmillan Learning. Additionally, she is a former president for the Florida College System Publications Association.