Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive pedagogy at its core is a student-centered approach to teaching that faculty create an inviting and engaging learning environment to all the students with varied backgrounds, learning styles, and physical and cognitive abilities in the classroom. Drawing from a large body of the scholarship of teaching and learning, it is clear that inclusive pedagogy improves learning outcomes when faculty attend to student differences and take deliberate steps to ensure that all students feel welcomed and supported in the classroom (Florian, 2015; Spratt & Florian, 2015)

Principles of Inclusive Pedagogy

  • Being Flexible – open to change and versatile
  • Being Equitable – ensuring consistency and accessibility for all
  • Working Collaboratively – involving students and stakeholders
  • Supporting Personalization – recognizing that successful learning and teaching is governed by personal difference
  • Embracing Diversity – creating opportunities to develop awareness of diversity and global issues

Effective Practices in Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive teaching is relevant to all disciplines, regardless of subject matter, and describes a foundational intention that can take the form of many different techniques and pedagogical approaches. Effective strategies include:

Apply Universal Design: The principles of universal design are intended to make course materials and learning experiences accessible and welcoming to all learners. They guide instructors to vary their teaching strategies to meet diverse learning needs and perspectives, allow students various ways to demonstrate their learning, and encourage the development of a supportive class community, among other recommendations. Learn more from CELT’s Universal Design for Learning Overview page.

Diversify Course Materials: Incorporate diverse perspectives by including readings from authors of many different identities and backgrounds, representing a variety of experiences in examples and case studies, and reflecting a diversity of individuals in course imagery and multimedia content.

Cultivate an Inclusive Climate: Set the tone for respectful and supportive class interactions by setting explicit expectations for discussions and class discourse and addressing incidents of incivility and bias directly. To begin, review CELT’s Ideas to Create a Welcoming, Engaging and Inclusive Classroom page or download CELT’s Explore ways to create a welcoming learning environment (PDF)

Communicate Sources of Support: Add an inclusion statement and information about available student resources to your syllabus, and talk about them in class. Keep in mind that all students will not be equally aware of—or equally comfortable seeking out—academic and non-academic support and resources. Providing this information by default, rather than by request, can help make these supports accessible to all students. Learn more from CELT’s How to Create an Effective Syllabus page.

Be Mindful of Language: Model inclusive language by asking students about their personal pronouns, using generic language (e.g. “everyone” and “winter break” rather than “you guys” and “Christmas break”), and acknowledging different lived experiences. Avoid generalizing your own experience (e.g. living conditions, ability to travel, nuclear family composition) or assuming that all students have had the same experiences as one another.

Build Rapport: Take steps to get to know your students and facilitate opportunities for them to get to know one another. These suggestions for the first day of class can help build rapport, read through CELT’s 10 Ideas for a Great First Day of Class page.

Examine Your Own Implicit Bias: Consider how your own culturally-bound assumptions may influence your interactions with students, course materials, and your discipline. Reflect on your potential biases by reviewing these examples from Yale University, inviting feedback from students and outside observers, or taking an online self-assessment. To dig deeper into this topic, borrow the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People from the DCAL Lending Library in Baker 102.

Foster a Growth Mindset: Provide opportunities for students to make mistakes and fail in a safe environment, where they can try again and apply what they have learned in the process. Convey the idea that faltering can provide opportunities to grow, and is not a reflection of fixed, natural abilities, or lack thereof. Be sensitive to provoking stereotype threat, a phenomenon in which students’ awareness of negative stereotypes linking identity and ability can lead to depressed academic performance (University of Michigan’s Strategies for Inclusive Teaching, 2018).



This Inclusive Pedagogy (center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Iowa State University page is a derivative of University of Oklahoma’s Center for Faculty Excellence Inclusive Pedagogy webpage and Dartmouth’s Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment webpage