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Facilitating Dialogues About Racial Realities

by Stephen John Quaye - 2014

Background/Context: Facilitating dialogues about racial issues in higher education classroom settings continues to be a vexing problem facing postsecondary educators. In order for students to discuss race with their peers, they need skilled facilitators who are knowledgeable about racial issues and able to support students in these difficult dialogues. Yet previous research on difficult dialogues has largely focused on students’ experiences in these dialogues and the outcomes they gain from participating in them with little knowledge about the roles of facilitators of these dialogues.

Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine how postsecondary educators facilitate racial dialogues.

Research Design: In this study, I employed case study methodology and conducted semistructured individual interviews with 22 participants, as well as examined participants’ syllabi to see how they structured their courses.

Findings: Findings reveal the practical strategies educators used to facilitate classroom-based racial dialogues, including utilizing group discussions, using various practical resources, developing ways for learners to apply racial concepts and theories to their lives, and providing ample space for students to debrief at the conclusion of the dialogues.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Major conclusions and recommendations from this study include the importance of White educators facilitating these dialogues, educators conceiving of knowledge differently, the importance of paying attention to the institutional and classroom cultures for these dialogues, fostering collaborations between faculty and student affairs educators to enable students to grapple with racial issues in classroom and cocurricular settings, and connecting racial dialogues with other historical forms of oppression like sexism and classism.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 8, 2014, p. 1-42
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17500, Date Accessed: 6/19/2021 3:17:40 PM

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About the Author
  • Stephen Quaye
    Miami University
    E-mail Author
    STEPHEN JOHN QUAYE is an assistant professor in the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program at Miami University. His research explores the process and outcomes of students engaging in difficult dialogues as well as the roles of facilitators in these dialogues. Recent publications include Quaye, S. J. (2012). Think before you teach: Preparing for dialogues about racial realities. Journal of College Student Development, 53(4), 542–562, and Quaye, S. J. (2012). White educators facilitating discussions about racial realities. Equity & Excellence in Education, 45(1), 100–119.
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