Overview

In this activity, students get to reflect on how identity descriptors - such as race, gender, nationality and others - affect the way they interact with others and others interact with them.

For this activity, it is very important that the instructor and students have worked together to make the class a space where people feel comfortable sharing and making mistakes, while at the same time remaining a safer space for more vulnerable students. Indeed, this class took place in the 8th/9th class, after students and the instructors had time to get ...

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In this activity, students get to reflect on how identity descriptors - such as race, gender, nationality and others - affect the way they interact with others and others interact with them.

For this activity, it is very important that the instructor and students have worked together to make the class a space where people feel comfortable sharing and making mistakes, while at the same time remaining a safer space for more vulnerable students. Indeed, this class took place in the 8th/9th class, after students and the instructors had time to get to know each other. It is important is important to highlight that students do not have to place their selections on the grid if they don’t wish to do so.

The activity is divided in four sections: first, as a class, students reflect on the meaning of common identity descriptors such as race, class, gender, sexuality. Next, students reflect individually on how they would fit into each category. Students then use stickers to “place” themselves on a grid that the instructor has set up at the front of the classroom, highlighting the categories that they believe are most important to their sense of self. Students then use the grid (see "additional materials" folder) to place stickers (of another color) on the categories of their identity that they believe are most important to others when others interact with them. A discussion follows as students analyse the dot clusters of stickers - what difference are there between clusters? Why? What are the assumptions made based on others’ visible identities? How do these influence their actions?

Finally, students individually write a reflection on how this exercise relates to the interview they will be conducting.

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Objectives

  • This activity is meant to make students reflect on the assumptions they might have based on someone’s (visible) identity before they go out and interview someone for their interview projects.
  • Specifically, students should recognize, before they interview someone, that what they think is important about their interviewee may differ from what the interviewee considers important about themselves. Therefore, the student should listen closely to find out what is important to the interviewee and not make assumptions.

Context and requirements

Level College
Discipline History
Course Research Methods / 300-300-DW
Activity Content identity; categories; assumptions

Author’s Notes

Benefits

  • The structure of the activity offers multiple opportunities for engagement, thus encouraging student participation;
  • The activity supports the development of inter- and intra-personal intelligence, urging students to be more reflective of how they engage with others and others with them.

Challenges

  • Because of the sensitive and personal nature of this activity, and the possibility of further oppressing vulnerable students based on their positionality in some of the identities discussed, it is crucial that the instructor creates a caring, safe space in the classroom for all students;
  • It is also important that students don’t feel pressured to participate if they do not desire to do so;
  • Important to keep a safer space for all students.

Tips

  • As an instructor, be careful and have care for the students. Do the activity only once you feel trust has been established in the classroom and students feel comfortable with each other;
  • In order for all students to feel more at ease, it is important to highlight that participation – placing the stickers on the board and discussing one’s identity categories – is not compulsory. Students should participate only if they feel like it.

Activity Pedagogical Components

Case Study

Through personal experience, students reflect on the impact of categories and assumptions.

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

Reflective Writing

Students reflect on their learning.

For a description of this strategy, please see here.

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