Written by Jacqueline Stevenson[1]

Below is a set of reflective questions which can be used, or adapted, to stimulate questions amongst members of staff, including with students, or as a way of reflecting on our own practice. They are based on the work of Tara Yosso.

Tara Yosso conceptualizes Community Cultural Wealth as a critical race theory (CRT) challenge to traditional interpretations of cultural capital. Her model identifies six types of capital that can be used to frame or reflect on relationships and interactions with students, to act as a corrective to more commonly held deficit models. Using the reflective questions can help identify what is actually known about our minority ethnic students or where interventions may be based on flawed perceptions.[2]

Aspirational capital

  • What do we know of the aspirations, inspirations and expectations of students from different ethnic groups? What assumptions do we have about them?
  • In what ways can we recognise and acknowledge the aspirations/expectations of our students?
  • What future ‘possible selves’[3] do our students conceptualise? How can we enable these imaginings to have more salience and to become more elaborated?
  • How can we help students to develop ‘road maps’ enabling them to link concrete action in the present with their desired future selves?

Linguistic capital

  • Do we value the linguistic capital students may bring to the classroom or other spaces? And do we even recognise it exists?
  • How can we recognise and include multiple forms of linguistic capital in our practices?
  • What forms of language do we use in our institutions? Does it work to marginalise or silence some of our students?
  • Are our curricular practices dominated by Eurocentric voices? How can we decolonise our teaching and learning practices so that we recognise and respect other voices?
  • What opportunities do we give to students to tell their stories? How do we include narrative and storytelling in our practices? How do we help our students narrate their stories of success, as well as their struggles and challenges?

Familial capital

  • Do we recognise the importance of family to students? What assumptions do we make about their families? How do we create environments that can recognise or include families?
  • Do our practices alienate and disenfranchise certain groups? Do we know?
  • Do our students feel they belong to our community? Do we know what belonging looks and feels like to all our students?
  • How do we create a climate that builds care and compassion towards others?

Social capital

  • Do we recognise the different forms of capital our students possess or do we position them as deficits?
  • What assumptions do we make about students’ social connections? How do we help students stay connected to the communities and individuals instrumental in their previous educational success?
  • How do we support the building of new networks? How do we engage with staff about the types of support successful students need?
  • To what extent, and how, do we acknowledge other aspects of the student’s identity and experience – their gender, class, disabilities/abilities, sexual orientation, religion etc. – and understand how these interact and intersect to influence their experiences and approaches – potentially positively as well as negatively?
  • To what extent do we understand the differences between students of a specific ethnic group and do not assume that all share the same experiences based on their ethnicity?
  • Are we aware of and value the commonalities and differences between students of all different backgrounds – which may or may not relate to race/ethnicity?
  • To what extent does our teaching provide opportunities for students to explore these commonalities and differences of experience and perspective – different points of connection – to enable more nuanced, deeper, and richer understandings of each other and the worlds we inhabit?
  • How aware are we of our assumptions, prejudices and unconscious biases in relation to all aspects of social difference? How willing are we to challenge ourselves and each other about different forms of privilege and oppressive practice?
  • What can we do to raise our awareness and understanding of students from groups more dissimilar to our own?

Navigational capital

  • How do we help students navigate our institutions? What are the practices that are exclusionary for some of our students and how can we change them?
  • How willing are we to recognise that our institutions may not be supportive of some students? Or to be actively hostile to others?
  • How willing are we to reflect on the practices that need to change? How willing are we to fight to change them?
  • Do we recognise and accept the micro-aggressions of further or higher education in our own practices? How can we challenge these and are we even willing to?

Resistance capital

  • Do we recognise the resilience of our students? How do we enable others to re/consider this resilience in non-harmful ways? How can we draw on these resources in the classroom?
  • Do our practices perpetuate hegemonic ways of being and doing things? How willing are we to change our practices? Or relinquish power?
  • Do we draw on ‘non-western’ and non-white forms of knowledge in our teaching? In what ways can we revise our curricula to ensure we offer ‘decolonised’ approaches to our teaching and assessments?

 

[1] Reproduced from Stevenson, J., O’ Mahony, J., Khan, O., Ghaffar, F. and Stiell, B., (2019), Understanding and overcoming the challenges of targeting students from under-represented and disadvantaged ethnic backgrounds. Bristol: the Office for Students https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/understanding-and-overcoming-the-challenges-of-ethnicity-targeting/

[2] See Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1361332052000341006) and Angela Locke’s’ development of this work (see

https://www.bttop.org/sites/default/files/public/SUMMARY%20OF%20YOSSO.docx

[3] ‘The ideal selves that we would very much like to become . . . the selves we could become, and the selves we are afraid of becoming’. (p. 954); Markus, H. and Nurius, P. (1986) Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41: 954–969.