Creating an Inclusive Classroom

Dr. Chista Jackson teaching students in a lecture hall.

Today’s university classrooms are more diverse than in the past. With this diversity of students comes the need to ensure the learning environments associated with courses are inclusive* and designed to support all students.

In the Chronicle’s The Case for Inclusive Teaching article, we examine what is inclusive pedagogy. Gannon (2018) stated, “It is a mindset, a teaching-and-learning worldview, more than a discrete set of techniques. But that mindset does value specific practices which, research suggests, are effective for a mix of students.” More specifically:

  • It values course design. Inclusive teaching asks us to critically examine not just the way we teach on a day-to-day basis, but the prep work and organization we do before the course begins.
  • It values discernment. As faculty members, we must regularly ask ourselves: What biases am I carrying, and how do I counteract their effects?
  • It values a sense of belonging. How do we erode those old inequities and power imbalances in the classroom? By intentionally using teaching strategies that promote a sense of belonging, a critical element of student learning, and thus, of student success.

Through professional development programs, consultations, and resources, CELT supports creating learning environments where the social identities and diverse backgrounds of all students may thrive.

Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive pedagogy at its core is a student-centered approach to teaching that faculty create an inviting

*For a definition of inclusion, visit the Making Excellence Inclusive webpage (Association of American Colleges and Universities).

References

Sources for the Strategies to Create an Inclusive Classroom handout

  • Brookfield, S. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Checklist: Responding to student diversity. (n/d). Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburg, PA. Retrieved from http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/trynew/checklist-studentdiversity.html
  • Creating a positive classroom climate for diversity. (2015). University of California. Retrieved from https://equity.ucla.edu/programs-resources/educational-materials/classroom-climate/
  • Diversity checklist: Guidelines for course planning. (n/d). Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State University, PA. Retrieved from https://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/pdf/DiversityChecklist.pdf
  • Guide for Teaching Inclusively at Columbia University. (2018). Retrieved from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/resources/inclusive-teaching-guide/
  • Guidelines for classroom interactions. (n/d). Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Retrieved from http://www.crlt.umich.edu/examples-discussion-guidelines