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Inclusive Teaching

Inclusive teaching is a method for enhancing instruction to meet the increasingly diverse student populations within higher education. The aim is to create a classroom environment in which the default approach is accessible to any student. This differs from traditional pedagogy in that educators assume a wide range of student needs and skills. Course materials are developed with this in mind. Through inclusive teaching, we improve the quality of education for all students.

According to Boise State’s Multicultural Student Services, inclusiveness is defined as:

“Inclusiveness denies every substance of discrimination. The mark of an inclusive society is one in which people are open, accepting, and supportive of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in life, the community, and the world.”

Our aim in higher education is to make inclusiveness a real possibility in the classroom. In conjunction with inclusive teaching methods, oftentimes a variety of terminology is used to help define points of systemic disadvantage. Check out Boise State’s Multicultural Student Services’ Glossary for helpful definitions.

So what might inclusiveness mean for higher education? According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, inclusiveness in higher education strives to promote:

“The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity – in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect – in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathetic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.”

Picture of 5 stacked books with orange background

Why Inclusive Teaching Matters

Inclusive teaching serves our student population better. Not only does it help to make quality education accessible to our multilingual student population, it helps many other students at intersections of disadvantage. Furthermore, linguistically inclusive teaching helps faculty develop into better educators, as many of the changes made to the teaching practice benefit many students. You can learn more about how being inclusive will improve your overall teaching practice by reading “What I Learned From My International Students” from The Chronicle.

To learn more about how inclusive teaching works, visit the National Center on Universal Design for Learning. Their short video, UDL At A Glance, explains the purpose behind inclusive teaching and how it serves to benefit all students.

Getting Started With Inclusive Teaching

Of course, building an inclusive course can be a challenging. But you are not alone! The Center for Teaching and Learning offers workshops on both inclusive teaching and universal design (a closely related concept) which are helpful for starting the process of growing your teaching practice. View current Center for Teaching and Learning workshops.

Additional Resources for Inclusive Teaching:

  • Universal Design for Learning – A podcast episode by Teaching in Higher Ed.
  • Thomas, Cornell. Inclusive Teaching: Presence in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014. Print.
  • Bean, John. Engaging Ideas. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.
  • S. Shapiro, R. Farrelly, and Z. Tomas. Fostering International Student Success in Higher Education Virginia: TESOL Press, 2014. Print.