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2023 - Tag Team Teaching: Instructors create a community for learning

Tags: Academics | Staff Profile
Published 06/26/2023
Chasity Gunn, instructor of English, and LaTasha DeHaan, PhD, assistant professor of history and political science

Chasity Gunn, instructor of English, and LaTasha DeHaan, PhD, assistant professor of history and political science

When LaTasha DeHaan, PhD, assistant professor of history and political science, noticed students struggling with assignments in her African American history classes, she took action. DeHaan's colleague, Instructor of English Chasity Gunn, saw similar struggles in her African American literature course. With enrollment and completion rates among African American students declining over the past decade, and even more so during the pandemic, new initiatives are vital. The instructors formed a learning community called Unshackled Voices to foster student success.

"Investing in African American students is critical to reversing the trend of stagnant completion rates," said DeHaan. "We must intentionally recruit and retain African American students." Working together, DeHaan and Gunn bring more than a syllabus, lectures, and projects; they provide tools to help students succeed.

Students in the learning community take both classes separately, but the learning and resources are intertwined. Noting that many students struggled with composing papers, DeHaan tapped into Gunn's English expertise to improve their writing. Both took a more hands-on mentorship approach and met with students one-on-one. The instructors invited departments, such as financial aid and tutoring, to speak to their classes for additional resources. "We know our students often need a bridge to access the many resources available," said Gunn.

Thanks to a mini-grant from the ECC Foundation, students received the necessary course books and materials, plus a Toastmasters International membership to improve communication and leadership skills. ECC's Student Success Infrastructure initiative also funded a trip to Springfield, Ill., for students to present their final research projects.

Ten percent more students passed both classes when compared to the standalone African American Literature class before the learning community. "There is something beautiful about the synergy between the classes," said student Izaac Robinson. "[It] helped provide historical insight to the revolutionary writings," he said.

“Reading about these amazing people and learning about my heritage gave me an appreciation for how incredible it is to express yourself. I also saw myself in many of the writings, which made me feel less alone. I gained confidence from this class," said Robinson.

The learning community is again planned for the fall 2023 semester to help more students succeed.

"I loved the curriculum. I've been an ECC student for a few years and had never seen an African American history course until last semester," added student Mickayla Chandler. "I felt included and seen."


To co-jointly enroll in HIS 189 and LIT 209 to join the learning community for fall 2023, visit For any questions on how to enroll, contact DeHaan at or Gunn at