Lesson-4: Understanding the Tiers

Each Tier aligns with elements of the 13 respective standards.

Tier 1 instruction and design can benefit anyone. Even if the supports are geared towards specific ethnic and intersectional cultural norms, omitted from academic, community culture.  These responses are usually user-friendly strategies that people are familiar with and common in the teaching environment.

Tier 2 instruction and design are applied to collaborative learning and group settings. Tier 2 strategies targeted specific attributes of collaboration and included consideration for attributes like connectedness, belonging, inclusion, participation, team building, team membership, leadership, and task completion. 

Tier 3 is for the very specific needs of individual students or small groups of students with specific cultural needs. These strategies would be used for individual students who are struggling both academically and socially.

These strategies are mostly used for remediation, explanation, memorization, and clarification of course content. Tier 3 methods are created to evaluate results. Similarly, to disability accommodations. These strategies should not be used without the appropriate training. Culturally responsive clinical evaluations should only be completed by individuals with the appropriate training and credentials.

The following chart helps to answer basic questions associated with this model.  Individuals who are at the beginning stages of learning about cultural responsiveness often have questions about applying cultural responsiveness. To that end, the following chart was developed to support answering such questions.

The Frequently Asked Applications Chart

CRS© Applications
Tier 1Tier 2Tier 3
All individualsSmall Groups – ***Not ethnic small groupings***Individual – or – groups of less than 5 students
Instructional Designers, Practitioners, and students, LODEIS OfficersLODEIS, Practitioners and StudentsPractitioners and Students and the possibility of an online or LODEIs
To add up to 20% of cultural responsiveness to a courseTo add between 20-50% of cultural responsiveness to a courseTo surpass 50% of cultural responsiveness to a course
Course design, course set-up, student contribution, and instructionCurriculum selection options, robust reflection, Culturally Responsive Taxonomy for LearningCulturally responsive feedback, culturally responsive specialized supports.

Not only do tiers align with standards of practice, but they also align with the different types of culture found in the ACE model.  Faculty and instructional designers should use considerations of culture as well as the tiers in order to support cultural responsiveness within their scope of practice.

Academic Culture and Tier Learning

Types of CultureTIER 1 AcademicTIER 2 Collaborative TIER 3 Cognitive
Academic Collaborative Community Cognitive Ethnic (ACCCE) and Intersectionality (All Tiers)  Belongingness, inclusion, equity, self-identity. (Planning, Announcements, Content, Policy)   Community culture: learners as stakeholders, decision-makers, and caretakers.   (Sense of Community, Climate, and Course Ecosystem)Group forming and norming, participation, outcomes, interpersonal communication, and socialization.   (Collaboration-Group Membership)  This includes decision-making, emotions, impressions, perception, and attention, cognition.   (Instruction/Active Learning/Divergent Thinking)
Which individuals?All students in the whole groupEach student within the small group.Individual students or small groups requiring specific CR.

The process of selecting an evidence-based practice for course design and teaching can seem overwhelming because it differs significantly from the frequently referenced frameworks. The inability to organize, document, or quantify the effectiveness of such efforts has been hampered until now. Applying the CRS model establishes a foundation for educators and designers to do more than just surface-level teaching and course design.

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