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Many have discussed the inherent problems in teaching race and ethnic relations courses. Students often come to class with preconceived ideas about their social world, and a range of feelings and experiences including confusion, biases and misconceptions. Therefore, significant barriers to learning exist prior to the first day of class. To address these challenges, I developed a teaching strategy that created a student-centered, non-threatening learning environment where students could thoughtfully discuss and collaborate on group projects covering emotionally charged subjects. In doing so I organized my course, Race and Ethnic Relations, around the students’ use of family histories. This essay includes qualitative data from student projects, and their reflections on the effeciveness of this assignment. Student reflections revealed their relative comfort in holding discussions and presenting information on sensitive and challenging topics.
Student-centered learning, student collaboration, race and ethnic relations, and ethnic family histories