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Decolonial Pedagogy and Curriculum Inventory (DPCI)

A Project of University of Arizona’s Human Rights Practice Program
William Paul Simmons, Sophie S. Alves, Danlei Chen, Leonard Hammer

Using the DPCI

The Decolonial Pedagogy and Curriculum Inventory (DPCI) consists of 92 items across 12 constellations that gauge the decoloniality of a pedagogy and curriculum. It can be used to assess entire programs or individual courses. This inventory aims to prompt further conversations about best practices in decolonial pedagogy and curriculum. We do not expect anyone to use all 92 items; select the items that are most relevant to your context.

In the spirit of decoloniality, this is an ever-evolving inventory that is open for educators to use free of charge.  Feel free to download the inventory in Word format here.  It is also available below.

We just ask that you let us know (by emailing Bill Simmons) when and how you have used it so that we can continually update our list of best practices for deployment.  Also, please let us know if you recommend any wording changes or the adding or deleting of items.  We will continually update the pool of items based on the feedback and suggestions!  This is a collective enterprise that will only be made better as it is deployed in more and different contexts.

Project Background

In a recent assessment of the University of Arizona’s Human Rights Practice program, we became aware of the necessity to reinforce and strengthen our cutting-edge pedagogy and curriculum to make sure we continue to make conscious efforts for our practices to be more and more decolonial and transformative.  We realized that a significant goal was to make our cutting-edge pedagogy and curriculum more decolonial and transformative.  However, we did not have a standard by which to judge such things or even to point to how to make this pedagogy and curriculum more decolonial and transformative. Consequently, we decided to create our own scale of decolonial pedagogy and curriculum.  Based upon an extensive academic literature review of both theoretical and empirical studies as well as numerous discussions with key stakeholders we have created a pool of 90+ items from which any academic program could choose a subset of items to evaluate their pedagogy and curriculum.  It is, as far as we know, the first comprehensive inventory on these issues that can be adopted widely.

Instructions for Deploying the Decolonial Pedagogy and Curriculum Inventory (DPCI)

Each program, ideally with input from students and other stakeholders, should choose the items that are most relevant to their context.  We recommend 20-25 items.  Students might even take the lead in this assessment exercise. This assessment can be done in conjunction with other program assessment activities.  We also recommend that follow-up activities be included, such as open-ended questions, qualitative interviews, and focus groups.  This pool of items is worded to evaluate a program as a whole, but most items can be easily rephrased to evaluate an individual course or other activity.

Sample Instructions for Students:

Decolonial pedagogy aims at deconstructing the historical origins of early Western methods and practices of teaching to highlight the power and pervasive nature of colonialism, imperialism, and racism. It strives to denaturalize and reshape the ways in which colonized individuals understand the world they live in and how they navigate it.

For each of the following items, please rate the program on how well the item describes your experience on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 meaning not at all and 10 meaning extremely well.

01.   I participated in determining part of the content of the courses by suggesting additional materials to examine (readings, videos, articles, etc.),  and/or other angles to explore as well as other assessment methods to use.
02.   I was an active co-constructor of my learning experiences.
03.   I was given choices for the assignments.
04.   Instructors work with students to create class expectations together.
05.   Instructors ask students their opinions about the best ways to create a sense of community within the classroom.
01.  Instructors create a space for exchange and constructive criticism rather than competition.
02.  Instructors make the classroom a space where students feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and opinions without fear of being silenced by anyone in the room.
03.  Instructors stop any demeaning comment or covert verbal attack in the classroom and guide students to adopt respectful behaviors.
04.  Instructors remind students to be mindful of students’ names, gender pronouns, opinions, and socio-cultural backgrounds.
05.  Instructors ensure that students provide constructive feedback to whoever speaks in the class.
06.  Instructors make sure the course on the online learning platform is accessible, clear, inclusive, welcoming, and supportive for all learners.
07.  Instructors foster effective communication, provide specific positive reinforcement, encourage constructive criticism, and cultivate an environment for mutual respect and shared responsibility.
08.  Instructors do their best to create a syllabus that is unambiguous, precise, unintimidating, and welcoming.
09.  Instructors include explicit language in the syllabus and in any course-related platform about the sanction measures that will be enforced should there be any negative racialized comment / action / behavior or any demeaning and unconstructive remark / microaggression based on perceived difference in the classroom.
10.  Instructors use supportive language to describe what is expected from students in their course.
01.   Instructors are facilitators and co-learners in their course.
02.   The program supports a co-generation of knowledge and learner-centered teaching strategies.
03.   Instructors recognize their own power in instructional and colonized spaces and make efforts to mitigate it.
04.   Instructors reflect on their positionality (gender, disability status, race/ethnicity, etc.).
05.   Instructors show interest in their class-related needs and the well-being of their students.
06.   Instructors encourage students to share personal experiences, critically think about them, and connect them to the topic explored in class.
01.   Course assessments focus on my voice and experiences.
02.   The program creates a space where students’ identities and experiences are validated.
03.   Instructors encourage students to share their personal experiences, understandings, and emotions to build a diverse base of knowledge.
04.   Dialogue, storytelling, and counter-story telling are common activities in the courses.
05.   The program incorporates trauma-informed teaching and learning.
06.   Instructors share information with students in a way that does not prioritize the regurgitation of their ideas but encourages them to critically and constructively form an opinion.
07.   Instructors communicate with students throughout the semester to understand their experience and support them to the best of their ability.
08.   Instructors have an anonymous mid-semester course evaluation and they share its results with students to discuss how to move forward appropriately.
09.   Instructors include language about the changing nature of their syllabus and how it will evolve depending on the emerging intellectual interests and needs of the students in the class.
01.   The program consciously introduces and develops marginalized perspectives and epistemologies.
02.   The program questions human primacy and focuses on the human as part of the larger context of the world including but not limited to plants and animals.
03.   The program promotes equal opportunities to access educational resources from the mainstream as well as from marginalized knowledge systems.
04.   The program constructs a genealogy for the discipline that differs from the mainstream one.
05.   Instructors integrate research resources authored by underrepresented scholars across the semester and not just as an add-on topic during a one-week lecture.
06.   Instructors have additional materials available as recommendations for students who require more background information or who would like to explore a topic more deeply and from different perspectives.
07.   Instructors provide alternative storytelling to dominant narratives and highlight marginalized contributions throughout time.
08.   Courses include speakers from marginalized populations who are experts in the field and who champion social justice as a part of their work.
01.   Courses include a land-acknowledgement statement in the syllabus and on the online learning platform page.
02.   Instructors incorporate a social justice statement in their syllabus and on the online learning platform page.
03.   The program model active, constructive, and critical reflection on colonial positionality.
04.   Instructors explore how different cultural, economic, and racialized systems come to know and experience the world.
05.   The program empowers their staff by valuing their experiences and their background.
06.   Instructors discuss colonial roots and ongoing structures of colonialism.
07.   Instructors co-define key concepts (colonization, intersectionality, racialization, etc.) early on and throughout courses.
08.   The program incentivizes students to be actively engaged in the world to transform existing boundaries into spaces of endless possibilities.
01.   I more thoroughly examined gender and race-related inequities/oppression.
02.   I further developed an awareness that all communities have knowledge systems to share.
03.   I deconstructed “the savior complex” and developed a toolkit on how to best assist marginalized individuals and communities.
04.   I unraveled the historical origins of existing curriculum to understand how institutions manufactured consent for colonialism, imperialism, slavery, discrimination, hierarchies, and exclusion.
05.   I critically and constructively examined dominant structures of knowledge and their relationship to power by including histories and experiences of colonized people.
06.   I developed my ability to question, analyze, challenge, deconstruct and reconstruct knowledge.
07.   I used critical thinking and constructive arguments as active intellectual tools as opposed to one-sided perspectives.
08.   I explored different perspectives so that I would understand different thought-processes.
09.   I learned how to respectfully defend my point of view with constructive statements and well-informed arguments.
10.   I am aware that all students receive only a partial and biased education.
11.   I explored how those invisible in the curriculum are the primary victims of biased education and inequitable schooling experiences.  
12.   The program makes students reflect and acknowledge their own biases.
13.   The program challenges receiving and constructing the world as binary (black/white, oppressors/oppressed, etc.) and recognizes the messiness of the world.
14.   Instructors make a conscious effort to expand the way students understand how and where knowledge is produced.
01.   The program teaches the importance of community engagement in challenging oppression.
02.   The program encourages students to challenge oppression through reforms and actions.
03.   The program fosters opportunities for students to engage with various communities.
04.   The program makes it possible for students to assist in community projects.
05.   The program works together with marginalized communities in solidarity.
06.   The program strives for equity by assisting communities in need.
07.   Instructors invite individuals and community leaders from various backgrounds to share their experiences, expertise, and work to inspire students and provide them with examples of community engagement and transformative action.
01.   Instructors recognize and respect different learning styles / entry points and accommodate students with different needs through universal design (e.g., multiple modalities in instruction and assessment).
02.   Instructors give students tasks ahead of time so that they can organize themselves based on their learning needs.
03.   Instructors provide clear and detailed descriptions of tasks, evaluation criteria, and expectations to decrease students’ stress level, potential anxiety, impostor syndrome, deficit-thinking or fixed mindset.
04.   Course designs use various lenses to reflect multiple worldviews, voices and lived experiences of underrepresented people.
05.   Instructors ensure students can contact them through multiple methods and with reasonable flexibility in communication times.
06.   Instructors include course resources related to race, socio-economic standing, gender, sexuality, disability, immigration status, English language learner, and first-generation students’ needs and interests.
07.   Instructors list information regarding housing and food insecurities along with other on and off campus resources that benefits economically disadvantaged students.
08.   Instructors are diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, experiences, expertise, and general background.
09.   Program leaders are diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, experiences, expertise, and general background.
01.   Questions of oppression are central to entire courses.
02.   The program exposes hidden curriculum in the mainstream knowledge system.
03.   The program consciously democratizes the educational space by being antiracist and antihegemonic.
04.   The program recognizes and addresses internalized racist beliefs in the educational system.
05.   The program exposes the power-laden nature of curriculum and acknowledges that it is a site of battleground.
06.   Instructors include race-conscious content and scholarly research to help underrepresented students see themselves in the context of what they learn.
01.   Instructors consider diverse modalities and progression steps—for example, beginning, emerging, and proficiency—to develop opportunities for the learner to grow before finalizing student grading in the class.
02.   Instructors have students engage in some form of self-assessment for their grades.
03.   Students have opportunities to retake missed or late work if they are behind due to technological barriers or other personal deterrents.
04.   Instructors develop assignments that have students participate in some form of self-assessment (e.g., students submitting learning reflections with their work, students assigning grades to their work along with a reflection of learning, etc.)
01.   Instructors elaborate on the rationale behind their decisions on pedagogies, readings, activities, and assignments.
02.   Instructors explain to students the importance of a decolonizing pedagogy.
03.   Instructors discuss with students the decolonizing process.
04.   Instructors include messaging regarding their responsibility as faculty members to alert learners early if participation, learning, and attendance are not met.
05.   Instructors share their approach to decolonization by identifying, interrogating, and dismantling power structures that carry legacies of racism, imperialism, and colonialism in the production (how and where) of knowledge.
06.   Instructors get at the deep structure of colonialism and challenge students to envision how to foment new actions and spaces of collective consciousness that respect the variety of ways peoples and non-human species live and thrive in the world.

This project was made possible in part through funding from CUES, the Center for University Education Scholarship at the University of Arizona.
Any views, findings, or recommendations hereby expressed are those of the author(s) only.

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