Core Values – Inclusive Teaching

Core Values

Core Values


The Core Values Exercise is designed to allow participants an opportunity to explore their personal values on a profound level. By examining a list of values and ranking each them from “always valued” to “least valued,” participants will engage in serious self-reflection and evaluation. By the end of the activity, participants will have a chart of core values (those falling in the “always valued” category) that define them. Additionally, participants will be prompted to share their list of core values with the rest of the group and generate a list of shared values. Doing so will give participants the opportunity to observe others’ core values and will promote dialogue about any differences present as well as any common values.

Activity Goals:

  • To help students determine and prioritize their individual values.

  • To learn to appreciate the diversity of values.

  • To prompt students in a discussion about the cultural contexts in which their values emerged and how they learned to pursue some values over others. Students are also prompted to consider the context in which this activity was constructed and how someone from a very different social context might have core values that are not specifically identified in the activity.

Application in a STEM Course:

Because certain groups are underrepresented in STEM professionally and academically, stereotype threat can hinder their academic performance in the classroom. Stereotype threat, in this instance, could be made manifest in lower test scores for a individual in an underrepresented group (e.g., women, students of color), as they fear that they will confirm a negative stereotype that their group typically underperforms in STEM courses. However, research into how to combat stereotype threat has shown that performing an activity, such as values affirmation, can erase achievement gaps between students. According to one study, “values affirmation…can buffer people against such psychological threat. When they affirm their core values in a threatening environment, people reestablish a perception of personal integrity and worth…such affirmations lessen evaluative stress and improve the performance of stereotype-threatened individuals.”

Application in a Large Course:

Large courses can be impersonal and overwhelming, leaving students feeling lost in a crowded lecture hall. Carving out time for activities such as this one can create a more inclusive, welcoming space. Furthermore, studies have shown that increasing student participation and engagement in large courses can lead to better academic and social outcomes. While there may be limitations to student participation and interaction in large courses, dedicating class time to students engaging in their learning with one another, especially in large and diverse courses, is a sound pedagogical principle. In this activity, the class can be split into small groups, with the possibility of a large group share out at the end.

Application in an Online Course:

Whether you are emergency remote teaching or an experienced online course facilitator, planning activities to foster inclusivity in your online course may not be a central focus. Yet because students learn and build community remotely, it may be harder for them to make connections with each other and the course content. This activity, which is best completed by students outside of class, can be used in a variety of ways during class. Using active learning techniques, students can present their values in breakout rooms or you could have short student presentations as a class. Afterward, students can reflect on what they shared and what they heard from other classmates, using The Minute Paper. This activity helps to establish and support a class climate that fosters belonging for all students, which is a key principle of online learning.

Core Values Activity Guide:

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