Activating Empathy to Overcome Academic Shaming

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title

AAC&U Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Democracy Conference: The Inconvenient Truths


Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)


San Diego, CA

Conference Dates

March 22-24, 2018

Date of Presentation



References to equitable, student-centered, citizen-building experiences abound in university mission statements. Yet an inconvenient truth, increasingly apparent in digital media, belies those lofty goals: student shaming. A latent dismissal of the need to develop teaching practices, coupled with a broader academic culture of scarcity and competition, creates a ripe field in which students may become the objects of displaced scorn. Consequences of this are palpable, as vulnerable students report feeling “like my teachers want me to fail and take pleasure in that failure.” Drawing on empirical work conducted with faculty learning communities, workshop facilitators will demonstrate how specifically-designed assessment and pedagogical tools can humanize students and support learning within their own campus communities. Participants will engage in and reflect on community-building as an empathy-developing practice; consider instances of student shaming and discuss the consequences of this practice on student learning and teaching culture; experience and reflect on two humanizing pedagogical and assessment tools; and discuss additional pedagogical approaches that can prime empathic contemplation within a learning community.

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