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College Teaching

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visual representations, microaggressions, critical visual literacy, equitable teaching, marginalized students, student projects


While the topic of microaggressions has gained attention in higher education, the focus is typically on verbal microaggressions and rarely includes efforts to address visual ones. Visual microaggressions are the visual insults and invalidations toward historically marginalized groups, that can appear in projects, lecture presentations, textbooks, and other forms of media. This paper describes the importance of addressing visual microaggressions in college courses and provides tips for reducing their occurrence. These strategies can include auditing one's course, modeling visual selections for students, requiring visually focused reflections for group projects, and soliciting feedback from students about images embedded in the course and other visual representations. Additionally, this article encourages instructors to set goals related to visual microaffirmations in their courses, which communicate that students are welcome, visible, and valuable to their field of study and the university. Such efforts help to support equitable and antiracist teaching.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in College Teaching (2024), 10.1080/87567555.2024.2326434.



Available for download on Thursday, August 28, 2025

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