Inclusive pedagogy is an approach to teaching and instructional design that attends to and values diversity through deliberate efforts to address the way systemic inequities shape the classroom, curricula, and assessment (Freire 1970, hooks 1994, Tuitt 2003). At its core, it is learning-centered, equity focused, trauma-sensitive, and fosters social justice, offering faculty a way to teach that is meaningful and transformative and that allows all students to excel (Hockings 2010). And, research demonstrates that students of all backgrounds are more likely to thrive in classrooms and institutions with inclusive climates.
Inclusive teaching is good teaching.
There are a variety of inclusive pedagogical models that emerge from social movements that address systemic oppression and that are informed by the work of Paulo Freire. What these models share in common is a focus on teaching and learning that is rooted in care and respect, and teaching practices that are dialogical, collaborative, equitable, and affirmative of all student perspectives. They also encourage classrooms that welcome difficult dialogues and prepare students to be reflective, democratic citizens.
From curriculum and instructional design, to teaching practices, to classroom environments and assessment methods, there are a wide range of strategies faculty can employ to realize inclusive teaching.
Create a class climate that values diversity, recognizes and supports all students, and allows them to examine the relationship between course materials and their own social and personal experiences.
Activate student voices by creating affirmative opportunities for students to speak about the course content in order to make sure that no student is invisible in the classroom.
Cultivate community by fostering dialogue between students and between yourself and students. Doing so creates a democratic, collaborative setting where everyone has the responsibility to contribute and the respect and support to do so.
Incorporate diverse perspectives into course content by expanding reading lists and course materials to include various racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and national perspectives and by making sure lecture and quiz examples represent an array of human experience.
Engage difficult topics and conversations in your course materials or that arise in class discussion or interactions rather than sweep them under the rug. Lay a foundation for such dialogues that equip students to handle them academically and personally.
Model inclusive language by using language that is generic (e.g. “Good afternoon everyone!” instead of “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen!”) and by using language that affirms differences in lived experience (e.g. “For those of you who grew up with two parents at home.”).
Make clear course policies to remove ambiguity and eliminate assumptions so that students know exactly what is expected of them, and consider how you can build flexibility into those policies so they reasonably honor individual circumstances.
Consider assignment diversity and scaffolding in order to create multiple pathways for learning and to cultivate and develop student skill sets.
Develop awareness of your own social position and how it shapes your teaching and interactions with students.
Do your homework about social inequities, implicit bias, trauma, and microaggressions and their relationship to the classroom.
Want to Have a Conversation about Inclusive Teaching?
Schedule a consultation to discuss your strategies for implementing inclusive teaching practices that fit your teaching context and goals.
Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Teaching
Megan Burke, Ph.D.
Office: Salazar 1060
From the Senate Diversity Subcommittee:
From our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
From The HUB Cultural Center at SSU:
From our Center for Community Engagement:
PodNetwork.org Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources
Op-Eds on Inclusive Teaching
Gannon, Kevin. “The Case for Inclusive Teaching.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Imad, Mays. “Leveraging the Neuroscience of Now.” Inside Higher Ed.
Kachani, Soulaymane, Catherine Ross and Amanda Irvin. “5 Principles as Pathways to Inclusive Teaching.” Inside Higher Ed.
Sathy, Viji and Kelly A. Hogan. “How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive.” The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Armstrong, Mary A. 2011. “Small World: Crafting an Inclusive Classroom (No Matter What You Teach).” Thought & Action: 51-61.
Carello, Janice and Phyllis Thompson. 2021. Lessons from the Pandemic: Trauma-Informed Approaches to College, Crisis, and Change. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Freire, Paulo. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Gurin, Patricia, Nagda, Biren (Ratnesh) A., and Ximena Zúñiga. 2013. Dialogue across difference: Practice, theory, and research on intergroup dialogue. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Hockings, Christina. 2010. Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: A synthesis of research. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/inclusive_teaching_and_learning_in_he_synthesis_200410_0.pdf
Hooks, bell. 1994. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge.
Nicolazzo, Z. 2016. Trans* in College: Transgender Students’ Strategies for Navigating Campus Life and the Institutional Politics of Inclusion. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Tuitt, Frank. 2003. “Afterword: Realizing a More Inclusive Pedagogy.” In Race and Higher Education: Rethinking Pedagogy in Diverse College Classrooms, pgs. 243-268, edited by Annie Howell and Frank Tuitt. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review.