Thursday 11th of March we got to know Sehoya Cotner. She presented her talk  “Envisioning more equitable Higher Education”

In higher education—and especially the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines–women, first-generation college students, and students belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups enter exhibit greater attrition than do their male peers, a gap that continues throughout the professions. Some explanations for this phenomenon relate to student preparation or academic abilities, which is collectively known as the student deficit model. My colleagues and I have proposed the course deficit model, whereby instructional decisions exacerbate or minimize gaps in performance, participation, and retention. I will offer evidence–from my own work and that of others–in support of the course deficit model, in my discussion. I’m eager to forge novel initiatives across SFUs, and hope our discussion can lead to future collaborations.

Sehoya Cotner earned her PhD in Conservation Biology, but has turned her research focus to undergraduate biology education. She is particularly interested in evidenced-based teaching, especially as it relates to reducing or removing barriers to equity in STEM fields. In the US, Sehoya was project leader of several initiatives emphasizing inclusive teaching, training teaching assistants to facilitate inquiry, and course-based research experiences. She has recently published on the effect of class size on gender-biased performance gaps, participation gaps in biology and chemistry courses, the role of high-stakes tests in observed performance gaps (between men and women, and between first-generation college students and their continuing-generation counterparts), and how gender ratios impact in-class group dynamics. Current work highlights the role of hidden identities in active-learning settings, and the strategic use of role models to increase sense of belonging. Sehoya has proposed, and continues to explore, the “Course Deficit Model,” whereby instructional choices can either increase or lower barriers to equity. She will begin full-time at UiB in August 2021, as centre leader for bioCEED.

If you want to learn more about Sehoyas work; Full library of publications