Instructor Manual: Appreciating Diversity


Click the above link to view Word documents for all the handouts for this chapter. 





Student Learning Outcome


Students will increase their appreciation of diversity in college, on the job, and in their personal lives. They will apply critical thinking to current social issues relating to diversity.


Tips on Teaching the Diversity Topic


We all want our students to appreciate diversity but realize that our students come to us with varying degrees of knowledge and opinions on the topic. The central question is, "How can we be successful in helping our students appreciate diversity?" To answer this question, here are some articles that summarize current research on the topic and a very brief summary. These articles provide some useful ideas for teaching the topic of diversity.


Grant, Adam, "The Science of Reasoning with Unreasonable People," The New York Times, January 31, 2021.

This article reminds us that preaching, attacking, and arguing result in people shutting down, fighting back harder, and strengthening their beliefs. The author recommends the motivational interviewing technique that involves asking open ended questions and listening carefully. It is not manipulation, but a sincere desire to understand people's motivations and help them reach their goals. The key idea is not to change someone's mind but to help them to find their own motivation to change. These ideas can be adapted to classroom discussions.

Dwyer, Christopher, "How to Change People's Minds: The Art of Debunking," Psychology Today, April 6, 2018.

In this article, the author presents research based strategies for helping students to become critical thinkers and reach conclusions based on credible, relevant, and logical evidence.

Exercises for Students

Find Someone Who . . .

The Find Someone Who exercise is a good one to introduce the topic of diversity.  It gets students out of their seats and talking to others about their similarities.  It is located at the end of the chapter in the printed text and is available as a supplement to the online edition. 


Exploring Stereotypes 


This exercise is located at the end of the chapter in the printed text and available here as a supplement to the online text. Read the items from the list in the Exploring Stereotypes exercise.   Ask students to give the common stereotype portrayed in the movies.   At first students are hesitant to share stereotypes, so stress that these stereotypes are commonly presented in the movies.  This leads to interesting discussion as students contribute the stereotypes that they have observed.

Finish this exercise by asking about the sources of these stereotypes, the prejudices that can result, and the harm that can result from prejudice.


Diversity Bingo

This activity helps students understand the diversity in their group.  Use the Diversity Bingo worksheet. 

Critical Thinking and Current Social Issues

This group activity on critical thinking provides a framework for discussing the current social issues section of this chapter. It can also be used to discuss any current issues in the news that relate to the diversity topic. The exercise is a quick review of fallacies in reasoning and cognitive biases before beginning a discussion of the issues. It challenges students look at multiple perspectives and understand different values before constructing their own reasonable view. Allow some time at the end of the exercise for at least five students to share their reasonable views. Click this link to the handout used to guide this discussion: Critical Thinking and Current Social Issues.

One Minute Paper

Challenge your students to do free writing on a topic for just one minute. This exercise could be used as a summary of the critical thinking exercise above. Here are some ideas for writing prompts:
What is the most important thing you learned today?
What is the best idea you learned from the discussion today?
What is the most useful idea you learned today?
After considering all the perspectives discussed in the critical thinking exercise, what is your reasonable view?

After one minute, ask student to underline their most important sentence. Ask for 5 volunteers to share their most important idea.

The Diversity Poster

Ask students to create a poster showing their culture, language, hobbies, interests, or values. Students can also be asked to create a family tree that shows their ethnic or cultural background. Have students speak about their poster for about 2 minutes. Request that students to use positive thinking and take pride in their diverse backgrounds.

I ask students not to have any pictures or references to drugs, alcohol, violence, or guns. Pictures should be in good taste. They should not have pictures of nude women or men, for example. Another variation is to have students bring a paper bag with items that represent who they are. They can take the items out of the bag and state why they are important. This exercise is done toward the end of the semester and students are invited to participate in an ethnic potluck lunch during class.

Here are some ideas for what to include on the poster:

Where were your parents and grandparents born?
What languages do you speak?
Include a map of the country or countries where your relatives were born.
What traditional foods does your family eat?
What cultural traditions are still practiced by your family?

The Diversity Collage

Click this link to view a sample of a diversity collage assignment which gives your students the opportunity to share and take pride in their different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  (Contributed by Paul Delys, Cuyamaca College)

Video: “Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes” 

In this video, Jane Elliot discriminates against students with brown eyes one day and then discriminates against students with blue eyes the next.  This is a great way to show the harmful effects of discrimination and the detrimental effects on learning when people are told that they are inferior. After the video, have students do a five minute “free write” on their ideas about the video or the topic.  Have students underline their best sentences.  Ask for volunteers to share their best sentence.  Usually a good discussion follows. 


This video is now available online at: 



The following exercises are best done toward the end of the semester when students are comfortable sharing more personal information about diversity.

Diversity Exercise: My Groups


The purpose of this exercise is to help students become more aware of the groups with which they identify and how they are affected by stereotypes.  Begin with a diagram that has one circle in the middle and four circles surrounding it.  This diagram is in the Diversity Exercise: My Groups handout.  Follow these steps:

1.       Write your name in the middle circle.

2.      In the surrounding circles, list the groups with which you identify.  (Examples: woman, man, African American, Mexican, Asian, Irish, young, surfer, blond, redhead, business major, introvert, extravert, thinking, feeling, thin, overweight, motivated student, basketball player, athlete, Christian, Democrat, Republican)

3.      Turn to the person next to you.  Tell of a time you felt especially proud to be a member of this group. 

4.      Share a time it felt particularly painful to be a member of this group.

5.      Which stereotype have you heard about one of your groups, but it fails to describe you? 


At the end of this exercise, give students a few minutes to write 3 discovery statements.  Ask for volunteers to share their discovery statements.


(Submitted by Dr. Sandee Bonura, Instructor, Cuyamaca College)


Culture Walk


The purpose of this exercise is to help students become more aware of the many types of diversity that exist and to find students who share the same experiences.  For this exercise, students form a line across the classroom.  Students are asked to step forward and then back into the line based on questions asked by the instructor.  Start with questions that are non-threatening to get students comfortable with the exercise.  Students can choose to “pass” if they want.  Vary the questions to suit your group of students.   


Walk across the line if your favorite color is blue.  Look into the eyes of those you brought with you.  Look at those you left behind.  Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.  Walk back across the line. 


Here are some additional questions:


·        Walk across the line if you have ever experienced a bad hair day.

·        Walk across the line if you are undecided about your major. 

·        Walk across the line if your parents are divorced.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about is in a gang.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about lives in poverty.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about has been homeless.

·        Walk across the line if you have been told or think you are fat.

·        Walk across the line if someone you care about has been abused physically, psychologically or sexually.

·        Walk across the line if you or someone you care about is dependent on alcohol or drugs.

·        Walk across the line if you know someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual.

·        Walk across the line if you know someone who is HIV positive or has AIDS.

·        Walk across the line if you have been put down by someone else and it hurt you.

·        Walk across the line if you put someone down and you knew it hurt them. 


At the conclusion of this exercise, ask students what they learned from it.  The usual comment is that students are not aware that so many share the same experiences. 


(Submitted by Kris Irving, Helix Charter High School, La Mesa, CA) 


Line of Inequity


This exercise helps students to think about power, class, education and socioeconomic status.  Students form a straight line in the classroom.  After each question, participants are asked to take a step forward or back.  Here are the questions:


1.      If you have forty or more books in your house, take a step forward.

2.      If you received a free lunch at school or had a lunch card, take a step back.

3.      If your parents read to you when you were young, take two steps forward.

4.      If you went to an alternative or adult education school, take one step back.

5.      If you attended a private school, take one step forward.

6.      If you parents speak English, take one step forward.

7.      If you are a US citizen, take one step forward.

8.      If you are an undocumented resident, take two steps back.

9.      If you know someone who died because of gang violence, take a step back.

10. If you have a family member who has been in prison, take a step back.

11. If you have a computer in your home, take a step forward.

12. If someone in your family receives government assistance, take a step back.

13. If someone in your family is dependent on drugs or alcohol, take a step back.

14. If your parents graduated from high school, take a step forward.

15. If one of your parents did not graduate from high school, take a step back.

16. If you live in a single parent home, take a step back.

17. If you have been discriminated against because of your ethnicity, take a step back.

18. If your family owns the home where you live, take a step forward.

19. If you have seen violence in your house, take a step back.

20. If you are bilingual, take a step forward.

21. If you have ever been discriminated against because of your sexual identity, take a step back.

22. If you are a man, take two steps forward.

23. If you are a woman, take two steps back. 


Here are some questions for discussion:


What did you think of this activity?

How did you feel about your position in the line?

What is the best way to overcome disadvantage?  (Education)


(Submitted by Jose Luis Perez, San Diego City College, San Diego) 


The Line Game

This game is a variation on the Line of Inequity above. To play this game, place a piece of tape across the floor. Ask students to step on the line if the questions pertain to them. Students can opt not to step on the line if they feel uncomfortable doing so, but emphasize that this is a safe place to share. You can use the same questions as the Line of Inequity above.

You can view a YouTube video of this game from Freedom Writers with Hillary Swank.

The Privilege Walk Workshop: Learning More about Privilege in Today's Society

Here is another version of the above exercises with learning goals, detailed instruction and  additional questions.  See The Privilege Walk handout for detailed instructions.

(Contributed by Tira Young, Azusa Pacific University) 

Cultural Identity: Attaching a Story

In this exercise, student are given labels (upper class, lesbian, Goth, activist, Jew, gay, alcoholic, deaf, religious, convict, white, straight, black, disabled, working class) and asked to list characteristics about themselves and two other people in the group.  Then they are asked to open an envelope which contains a description of the person which is often very different from the label.  See the Cultural Identity: Attaching a Story handout for complete directions. 

 Self-esteem Exercise


In order to appreciate diversity, it is first necessary to have good self-esteem.  This exercise gets students to smile and think some positive thoughts about themselves and others. Do a chain of compliments around the room.  Begin by giving a compliment to the first student in the row.  For example, "You have a nice smile."  This students turns around and gives a compliment to the next student.  Each student in turn gives a compliment to the next student.  No compliment can be repeated twice and compliments should be sincere.   


Group Activity: Self-Esteem


The Building Your Self-Esteem handout gives students the opportunity to do some positive thinking about themselves and share with others in the class.   


Examining Our Own Prejudices


This exercise helps students to become aware of their own prejudices.  Start by distributing 3 X 5 cards to the class.  Ask students to write a couple of sentences about a group that they have the most difficulty with because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs.  Tell students not to put their names on the cards.  Collect the cards and read them aloud anonymously. 


A classroom discussion follows.  Congratulate students for their honesty.  Ask the students the following:


§         Did some of you find the exercise difficult to do?  Why?

§         Did you hesitate about writing negative thoughts about any group?

§         Where do these prejudices come from?

§         What are the damaging effects of these prejudices?


Some students will turn in blank cards because they do not want to write down negative ideas about any group or because this exercise is too threatening for them.  We all have some biases and prejudices that are learned as we are growing up. We generally learn these prejudices from our parents, friends, church, the media, etc.  We all need to become aware of our biases and be careful not to generalize.


(from Raad Jerjis, Instructor, Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, CA)


Write about an Incidence of Discrimination


Have students write about an incident in which they experienced discrimination.  This discrimination could result from any kind of difference such as hair length, style of dressing, political affiliation, religion, skin color, hair color, age, weight, language, accent, or disability.  To get the discussion going, think of a situation in which you experienced discrimination and share it with the class.  Anonymously read some excerpts from the students’ writings and encourage student discussion. 


Another variation is to pass out 3X5 cards to each of your students.  Ask them to write on the cards an incidence of discrimination they have witnessed or experienced sometime during their lives.   Shuffle the cards and read them anonymously to the class. 


Group Activity: Exploring Diversity and Culture


Have students fill out the worksheet, Exploring Diversity, located at the end of this section.  Have them join with 3 or 4 students in the class who they do not know.   Have students share answers in the group.  At the end, ask each student in the group to share with the class interesting things they found out about the people in their groups.  This results in a lively discussion resulting in students getting to know each other better and appreciating the diversity in the class.


Assign the exercise, Exploring My Culture, located at the end of the chapter.  Students can share some of this information in a brief oral presentation to the class. 




For Online Classes


Online Discussion Questions


Here is a link to a Word document with all my online discussion questions: Online Discussion Questions


Here is an updated discussion question for the diversity chapter:


This chapter encourages students to appreciate those who are different and develop skills for looking at issues from multiple perspectives. Share your ideas on any of these topics. Try to make your comments positive and and helpful in understanding any of these issues. Remember that being civil and polite helps others to understand your point of view.


Here are some current issues described in the chapter:


Social Inequality, Income, and Wealth

Equality for Women

Black Lives Matter

Native Americans and Christopher Columbus

The Southwest Border and Immigration



You can also describe a situation in which you have experienced bias, stereotypes, or prejudice.


Write at least 100 words on any of the topics above and reply to at least 2 other students for full credit.