Who are you as a person and an educator? How have the various facets of your cultural and social identities shaped your own experiences and views? Who are your students? How will their cultural backgrounds affect their learning, development, and motivation in your class?

These are vital questions in today’s classroom—a truth that Ellen Usher and I were reminded of while writing the 15th edition of Educational Psychology. Specifically, several educational psychology instructors at Michigan State University told us that the cluster in our book on cultural and diversity came too late for today’s realities. These instructors believed that a discussion of the many aspects of identity should be front and center, informing the study of all topics in educational psychology. So, Ellen wrote our new Cluster 2, “Who Are You? Who Are Your Students? Culture and Diversity.”

Grounded in the fact that we all are shaped by many forces and factors, Cluster 2 provides insight about why we must understand and appreciate our students’ identities, as well as our own. Throughout the cluster, we offer research and resources to help you and your students explore your identities and the role of culture and diversity in learning and teaching. In the overview, we explain that:Table 2.1 provides a good sense of the new focus in this cluster. It includes a set of reflective questions to guide your students (or you) in writing an educational autobiography. A few of the questions are:

  • What was your family’s educational background? What was your household income? Whom have you lived with?
  • How would you describe your parents’ social class and status?
  • Where have you lived? How would you describe your home(s) and neighborhood(s)? Where have you traveled?
  • What were the values, norms, and expectations in your home?
  • What learning tools (e.g., books, computers, games, people) were available to you at school and at home?
  • What were your formal schooling experiences like? What kinds of schools did you attend? What kinds of classes were you in (or not in)? How did you feel at school?
  • What were your informal learning experiences (e.g., faith groups, sports, travel, music, camps, work) like?
  • How were your teachers? Who or what has been your most influential teacher?
  • How would you describe your peers and classmates?
  • What was the most typical aspect of your education? What was most atypical?
  • How have you felt different from others? When, where, and by whom did you feel most and least accepted?
  • How much trust did you feel in people in your community (e.g., peers, teachers, neighbors)?
  • How would you describe your own cultural background? How has it affected you?

With the addition of Cluster 2, the latest edition of Educational Psychology speaks to the realities of today and the importance of understanding the power of identity. We hope you will explore our text and share your thoughts.