Modica and Aspito Present at PAC-TE Conference

by Corinne Twigg - Office of Marketing | Dec 03, 2015
teacher conference
On Oct. 29, professors Marianne Modica, Ph.D., and Sheri Aspito presented at the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) conference. Their presentation explored the topic of culturally relevant teaching in the higher education classroom. Shoshanna Edwards-Alexander, a professor at St. Joseph's University, partnered with them as they presented on the topic: Culturally Relevant Teaching in the Higher Education Classroom.
Reflecting on the preparation of materials for their students concerning culturally relevant teaching, they were faced with a valuable question. “We have to ask ourselves if our own classrooms are culturally relevant,” said Modica. 
In an effort to model for the audience small changes that can be used to promote cultural relevance and responsive teaching, Aspito shared a method she has used in the classes she teaches at UVF. To respond to the needs of her students, she structures her classes to be seminar workshops. 

Aspito reflected on the opportunity to dialogue with colleagues across the state of Pennsylvania and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She said, "In a profession that is constantly changing as it responds to the needs of constituents and society, staying current in policy issues is critical to the success of our program and our students' performance and growth." 

The group of educators also expressed the negative outcomes of academic tracking. In light of this view, they explored how tracking can perpetuate a racist system of inequality. In other words, academic tracking, or the separation of students according to varying levels of achievement, can suggest and support racial boundaries. According to Modica, “Tracking doesn’t always help the way teachers think it helps. It can actually be detrimental for everybody.” Their presentation suggested a remedy for this phenomenon by proposing that differentiated instruction is the better alternative to academic tracking. 

Differentiated instruction is a method of teaching that focuses on meeting the needs of all students of varying abilities in a classroom. This method is an alternative to tracking because it allows all students to be given the opportunity to practice critical thinking, which is often not emphasized in the remediated classroom.