Inclusive Pedagogy

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 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:

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.

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.

Seeking help with your research and course needs? Connect with a ISU Liaison Librarian.

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:

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 Creating an inclusive and learner-centered syllabus page. and bookmark the Campus Resources to Support Students page.

  • Learn and use students’ names and pronouns (if they share them with you). For example, a student may share, “In this class, I would like to use the name [insert name] and referred to with she/her/hers pronouns.” Make note of it for your records being mindful that this is no different from someone going by a middle name or asking to be “Joseph” instead of “Joe.”
  • Deliberately avoid generalizations that may exclude students who are already experiencing marginalization on campus. These are often communicated through phrases (e.g., “when you go home for break,” “if you have a child someday,” “just walk over to my office,” “it only costs $xxx”) that make implicit assumptions about students’ physical ability, family structure, social identities, citizenship status, or economic means.

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.

Teaching a large enrollment course has many logistical challenges. It is unrealistic to connect with each of your hundreds of students personally; however, there are ways to promote students’ sense of belonging in your specific class and on our campus more generally. Even in large enrollment courses, faculty interactions can help shape a web of academic, social, and institutional-level belonging (Freeman et al., 2007). Find ways to express your humanity, personality, and sense of humor with students. Tell your students that they belong in your course and at Iowa State University, and you will do all you can to make sure they succeed (McGuire et al., 2015; Strayhorn, 2019). Doing so will help them develop their trust in you, even if they don’t get to know you as students might in a smaller enrollment course. 


  • 5 Tips for Supporting Inclusive and Open Pedagogies
  • The Case for Inclusive Teaching
  • Five Broad principles of Inclusive Pedagogy
  • How to Provide a Multicultural Education (Baylor University’s EdD online in Learning and Organizational Change)
  • Florian, L. (2015). Conceptualizing Inclusive Pedagogy: The Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action. Inclusive Pedagogy Across the Curriculum, 7, 11-24.
  • Freeman, T. M., Anderman, L. H., & Jensen, J. M. (2007). Sense of belonging in college freshmen at the classroom and campus levels. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(3), 203-220.
  • Spratt, J., & Florian, L. (2015). Inclusive Pedagogy: From learning to action. Supporting each individual in the context of everybody. Teaching and Teacher Education, 49, 89-96.
  • University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Overview of Inclusive Teaching at Michigan. Retrieved October 31, 2018 from
  • University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Inclusive Teaching Resources and Strategies. Retrieved October 31, 2018 from
  • University of Washington Teaching Center. Strategies for Inclusive Teaching. Retrieved October 31, 2018 from

Inclusive Pedagogy, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Inclusive Pedagogy, is a derivative of Inclusive Pedagogy developed by University of Oklahoma’s Center for Faculty Excellence (retrieved on September 15, 2019) from, and Inclusive Teaching developed by Dartmouth College’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (retrieved on September 15, 2019 from