The Influence of “Accessibility Cues” on Student Engagement and Interactions with African American Faculty

Kathleen Neville
Salem State University

Tara Parker
University of Massachusetts Boston

This phenomenological study examined the perceptions and experiences of 22 traditional aged students when their African American faculty used “accessibility cues” in the classroom. Examples of “cues” include; encouraging students to actively participate in class, evaluate an assignment, or share personal experiences related to the class topic. Students perceive this form of active pedagogy as an indicator that the faculty member is willing to engage outside the formal classroom environment (Wilson, Woods, & Gaff, 1974). Results of in depth interviews with the students in this study, reveals that when faculty use these “cues” in the classroom, students felt respected, valued, supported, and safe in the learning environment. Although this study occurred at a singular institution in the northeastern region of the United States, the findings of this study are beneficial to faculty and administrators across the globe. This study illuminates how pedagogy in the class can have a direct influence on student engagement.

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