College of Arts and Sciences

5th Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning

Class Matters: The Role of Faculty in Working-Class Student Success

Presented by Sherry Lee Linkon

Professor of English
Director, Writing Program
Georgetown UniversityProfessor Sherry Lee Linkon

Thursday, January 8, 2015

  • Keynote Address: 10:00–11:45 a.m., Liberal Arts Building, room 159 (All IPFW faculty & staff)
  • Lunch: Noon, Walb Classic Ballroom (COAS faculty)
  • Workshop: 1:00–3:00 p.m., Walb Classic Ballroom (COAS faculty)


Lecture: While it’s not news that social class makes a difference in students’ experiences with, expectations of, and performance in college, most discussions about how to support working-class students focus on academic support services, not the classroom. But faculty also play a role in helping working-class students succeed, not only through mentoring but also through pedagogy. After a review of research on class and higher education, this presentation will suggest strategies for supporting working-class students in the classroom. How can we apply the insights from educational and student services research to develop teaching practices that will more effectively support working-class students? 

COAS Workshops: Small group discussions—six groups (we can adjust based on how many people attend), participants choose. I’ll provide some questions to guide each discussion and spend a little time with each group:

  • Thinking Locally: What local conditions, at IPFW and in our community, shape our working-class students’ attitudes and situations?
  • Class at the Intersections: On our campus, how do issues of class relate with other diversity issues—race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion?
  • Working-Class Academics: What difference do the social class perspectives of faculty make in the classroom and the university?
  • Teaching about Class: How do we, or how could we, incorporate class as subject or theme into our courses?
  • Supporting Working-Class Students:  How do we balance high expectations with strong support for our working-class students?
  • Institutional roles: How could IPFW better support its working-class students?

Biography: Sherry Lee Linkon is Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Georgetown University. From 1997 to 2012, she was co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University. With John Russo, she coauthored Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown (Kansas, 2002) and coedited New Working-Class Studies (Cornell, 2005).  In addition to her work on deindustrialization and working-class culture, Linkon does research on student learning in the humanities and on social class in U.S. higher education.  She was the founding President of the Working-Class Studies Association, and she edits a weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives.

Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences

Keynote address cosponsored by the Richard T. Doermer School of Business; College of Education and Public Policy; College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science; and College of Health and Human Services