Inclusive Teaching Strategies
Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches that address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities. These strategies contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment in which all students perceive to be valued and able to succeed. Active learning strategies are useful but may not account for dynamics like unconscious bias or gender role stereotyping in the classroom. Inclusive strategies aim to promote self-reflection and action for change.
Why Use Inclusive Teaching Strategies?
“Even though some of us might wish to conceptualize our classrooms as culturally neutral or might choose to ignore the cultural dimensions, students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door, nor can they instantly transcend their current level of development… Therefore, it is important that the pedagogical strategies we employ in the classroom reflect an understanding of social identity development so that we can anticipate the tensions that might occur in the classroom and be proactive about them” (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro & Lovett, 2010, p. 169-170).
The benefits of inclusive teaching include:
- Instructors can connect and engage with a variety of students.
- Instructors are prepared for “hot moments” that may arise when controversial material is discussed.
- Students connect with course materials that are relevant to them.
- Students feel comfortable in the classroom environment to voice their ideas/questions.
- Students are more likely to be successful through activities that support their learning modalities, abilities, and backgrounds.
Considerations for Inclusive Teaching Strategies
Ask yourself the following:
- How might your own cultural-bound assumptions influence your interactions with students?
- How might the backgrounds and experiences of your students influence their motivation, engagement, and learning in your classroom?
- How can you modify course materials, activities, assignments, and/or exams to be more accessible to all students in your class?
Getting Started with Inclusive Teaching Strategies
Contact the Center to arrange for a consultation about inclusive teaching strategies or explore the additional resources on your own. The following resources can also help you get started:
- Attend the Center's Faculty Institute for Diversity.
- Register for the 4-week online course, "Teaching & Learning in the Diverse Classroom" and consider taking it with a friend or in a learning community.
- The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning has resources on issues of inclusivity in the classroom and other resources related to diversity.
- The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Diversity and Democracy periodical provides information on various diversity initiatives.
- Cornell’s Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) and Cornell’s commitment to diversity provide information on what is going on at Cornell regarding diversity and inclusivity.
Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Lovett, M.C. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.