Small Steps to Incorporate Inclusive Pedagogy into Your Teaching
The inclusive pedagogy aims to create learning environments where students of all backgrounds and identities feel valued and respected.Jessica Critten, MA, MLIS | Division for Teaching Innovation and Program Strategy Sep 11, 2023
Inclusive pedagogy aims to create learning environments where students of all backgrounds and identities feel valued and respected. By embracing inclusive pedagogy, educators foster a sense of belonging and honor student strengths and experiences. This approach also encourages instructors to address structural and historical inequalities that have often marginalized certain groups in education.
As with most worthwhile things, incorporating inclusive pedagogy into your practice can be a challenging project. The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching rightfully notes that "[r]ealizing [equitable] changes in your students' outcomes will require an investment of time, a high level of intentionality, and a great deal of courage" (xxiii). Courage, because these equity-minded approaches also ask faculty to engage in a lot of reflection about their own privilege and investment in inequitable structures.
Just because inclusive pedagogy requires a lot of commitment doesn't mean you cannot start small; small is often the best place to start. Let's explore some of those small steps we can take in our journey to becoming more inclusive, equity-minded educators:
- Diversify your course content: Review your readings/videos, examples, and case studies to see what needs to be updated to better represent complex cultures, identities, and perspectives. This enriches your curriculum and helps students see the subject's relevance in their lives.
- Honor student identity using inclusive language: Do not make assumptions about someone's identity; ask students how they identify and use someone's correct pronouns. Use a student's preferred name. If you make a mistake (it happens!), apologize and commit to improving.
- Use your syllabus to communicate your commitment to inclusion: Consider including an inclusive syllabus statement and adopt more inclusive course policies.
- Focus on accessibility: Make sure all your course materials are accessible for your students, and consider Universal Design for Learning practices as you design your course to provide more equal opportunity for all students to learn.
- Work with students to create a set of norms for class discussions: Inclusive teaching means discussing complex topics at times, so having everyone in the class work together to establish a shared set of norms and expectations for those discussions helps students feel respected, heard, and protected.
- Emphasize growth (instead of mastery): Provide opportunities for students to monitor their own progress (re-submit assignments; submit assignments in drafts; correct incorrect test answers; have students complete self-assessments)
One important way to move forward in incorporating inclusive pedagogy into your practice is to invest in your own learning and growth. Join the first fall cohort of our Inclusive Pedagogy Academy: Foundations course, which runs from October 9-November 17th.
CU Denver's Inclusive Pedagogy Academy (IPA) is a set of courses focused on helping faculty create meaningful, effective, and equitable learning experiences for all students. The IPA is led by the Teaching Innovation and Program Strategy (TIPS) division in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Faculty at all schools and colleges at CU Denver are welcome to join.
The Inclusive Pedagogy Academy begins with our IPA: Foundations course, which moves from a macro-level examination of inequitable institutional and cultural structures to a focus on an exploration of instructor and student identities. Participants will then identify strategies and methods for increasing belonging and equity in the classroom. Throughout the course, participants can update their own syllabi, course policies, teaching philosophy, and other course assignments and materials to make them more student-centered and inclusive.
IPA: Foundations is a blended six-week experience comprising a combination of in-person sessions and asynchronous modules and assignments in Canvas. Upon successful completion of IPA: Foundations, participants will be awarded with a badge that they can include in their CV, professional networks, evaluations, and in promotion and tenure dossiers as evidence of teaching effectiveness.
Future IPA learning experiences will build on this foundational course to examine more specific topics relating to inclusive pedagogy, including accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), neurodivergent learners, anti-racist pedagogy, and trauma-informed pedagogy.
Registration for our fall 2023 cohort is now live! We have limited spots available; sign up before Monday, October 2nd, to claim your spot.