Celebrate Learning Week Keynote – Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and other “Differentisms”

Event Date & Time

  • May 18, 2021
    10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Event Description

Cia Verschelden is the keynote speaker for Celebrate Learning Week 2021.

Bandwidth concept – scarcity steals mental bandwidth 

The cognitive resources for learning of many of our students have been and are being diminished by the negative effects of persistent economic insecurity and discrimination and hostility against non-majority groups based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, and other aspects of difference. Recognizing that these students are no different than their peers in terms of cognitive capacity, we can implement strategies and interventions – in and outside the classroom – that show promise in helping students regain the cognitive resources to be successful in college.

Participants will understand that:

  • Societal realities like racism, classism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, xenophobia, etc. result in bandwidth depletion for students (and university employees).
  • Multitasking isn’t a thing: attentional resources.
  • Persistent economic insecurity – scarcity – depletes mental bandwidth.
  • There are many other kinds of scarcity – respect, dignity, safety, belonging, etc.
  • Psycho-social underminers, including stereotype/identity threat, belonging uncertainty, microaggressions, vicarious racism, and adverse childhood experiences, result in diminished bandwidth for our students.
  • The uncertainty related to the pandemic and social unrest has exacerbated these underminers for many students.


Moderator: Christina Hendricks, Academic Director, CTLT and Professor of Teaching in the Department of Philosophy

Bio: Cia Verschelden

Cia Verschelden is Special Projects Advisor for the Integration of Academic and Student Affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She recently retired as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Malcolm X College – City Colleges of Chicago. She taught for over 25 years at two- and four-year institutions in social work, sociology, women’s studies, nonviolence studies, and first-year seminar. Her administrative posts have included department chair, institutional assessment lead, and vice president of academic and student affairs. Cia has a B.S. in psychology from Kansas State University, an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut, and an Ed.D. from Harvard University. Her book, Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization, was published in 2017 and her new book, Bandwidth Recovery for Schools: Helping Pre-K-12 Students Regain Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Trauma, Racism and Social Marginalization, in 2020.

Following the Keynote Event, Cia Verschelden will be hosting additional workshops for faculty, advisors, graduate students and TAs to focus on their specific role in assisting students recover bandwidth.

Faculty Workshop | May 18 | 1:00-2:30 pm
Educators’ relationship with students is an important connection that can be leveraged to provide help in this area. Explore the topic of “funds of knowledge”— a strength perspective about what knowledge, skills and abilities they bring to the table and how to implement bandwidth recovery interventions. Click here to register.

Advisors Workshop | May 19 | 10:00-11:30 am
Advisors are critical in creating the environment where students can recover bandwidth. Discuss how to foster “identity-safe” spaces, the importance of check-ins and more. Click here to register.

Graduate Students and TAs Workshop | May 19 | 1:00-2:00 pm
Graduate students and TAs are understanding of the student experience. Learn about several interventions designed to help students recover bandwidth, such as utilizing values affirmations, a growth mindset and more. Click here to register.

This event will be hosted on Zoom.