Translating Student Voices into Action: A Call for Equitable Teaching Practices Amidst Growing Basic Needs Challenges
Keywords:inclusive teaching, deep teaching, basic needs challenges, housing insecurity, food insecurity, mental health, academic achievement, COVID-19
Basic needs challenges such as housing and food insecurity have long affected the wellbeing and academic success of college and university students in the U.S., and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these trends, including their disproportionate impact on historically marginalized students. As survey-based studies have been the primary means to document basic needs challenges among students, including the rise of such challenges during the pandemic, there has been a lack of interview-based research that would provide depth of understanding of students’ experiences. We conducted 883 surveys and 38 in-depth interviews with students a year into the pandemic to not only better understand the experiences of basic needs challenges among students in a time of growing inequality, but also to highlight teaching practices that students felt supported their resiliency and to uplift the importance of cultivating empathy through intentionally seeking out and listening to student voices. While respondents reported that the pandemic had exacerbated their financial insecurity and subsequently diminished their mental health and academic performance, they further highlighted effective instructional practices that ameliorated their stress and boosted their classroom success. These included established inclusive teaching practices such as flexibility in attendance and assignments (beyond temporary campus-wide policies) and taking the time to build classroom community, practices that should occur in tandem with campus-wide efforts to boost resources to fully support the growing number of students experiencing basic needs challenges.