WCER’s CIRTL Releases New Casebook Promoting Inclusive Teaching

Resource posits real-world classroom dilemmas to move instructors past preconceived beliefs

April 1, 2022   |   By WCER Communications

In an effort to advance the values of equity and diversity in real-world situations, WCER’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) released the new instructional resource, Ethical Dilemmas in the College Classroom: A Casebook for Inclusive Teaching.

Co-authored by Rosette Cirillo, a UW–Madison doctoral student and CIRTL graduate assistant, and Sarah Silverman, formerly with the Delta Program at UW–Madison and now an instructional designer at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the casebook serves as a valuable resource that calls on current and future faculty to discuss and think deeply about their inclusive teaching practices. The casebook, created with support from the National Science Foundation, takes a contemporary look at dilemmas instructors face in today’s classrooms and offers strategies for facilitating difficult conversations around each case.

“Too often our discussions about inclusion and equity take place in the abstract,” CIRTL Director Robert Mathieu says. “These carefully developed cases place each of us in the moment, providing both a mirror unto ourselves and an opportunity to become better teachers for all of our students.”

The CIRTL Network is made up of 42 research universities in the United States and Canada. Its mission is to enhance excellence in undergraduate education through development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse learners as part of successful and varied professional careers.


CIRTL Graduate Assistant Rosette Cirillo

The new casebook offers seven fictional cases and accompanying resources to help promote conversations about inclusive practices in a college setting. It is designed for use in workshops, courses and professional development programs, and for colleagues creating or adapting content for an inclusive teaching environment.

The cases push participants to reflect on their own potential responses to the dilemmas presented, while considering the ethical implications of these classroom decisions. This approach invites facilitators and participants to challenge their own assumptions, moving past preconceived beliefs toward new and creative solutions for inclusive teaching and learning.

Denise Pope, a CIRTL colleague at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School, shared her experience using one of the cases.

“I facilitated a workshop for graduate student teaching assistants using the Megan case study, and their response was very enthusiastic,” Pope says. “They loved how detailed and realistic the case study was, and they really appreciated that they had to decide on a specific course of action based on the case.”

As Pope notes, participants in a class or workshop using the casebook must wrestle with each case and make their own individual or small group decisions. The casebook does not itself provide solutions to the dilemma, posing a challenge for participants to find their own answers.

“The casebook is best used as a collaborative experience, built around thoughtful discussion and consideration of multiple perspectives,” Cirillo says. “It includes notes on facilitating these conversations, as well as a facilitator’s checklist to help new users incorporate these cases into their work. Each case also includes links to additional background material including articles, book chapters, or podcasts.”

The new casebook, Ethical Dilemmas in the College Classroom: A Casebook for Inclusive Teaching, was inspired by a prior 2006 CIRTL casebook, Case Studies in Inclusive Teaching in STEM. The 2006 casebook remains a valuable resource toward inclusive teaching.