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Overview of Inclusive Teaching Practices

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We regard inclusive and equitable education as holistic and part of all learning, and so inclusive learning practices apply to many aspects of the learning experience throughout these guides.

The resources and strategies on this page act as a starting point for a wide variety of course design strategies, teaching practices, and support resources that all contribute towards an inclusive and equitable course.

Provide equitable access

Inclusive education is accessible: all students should be able to access the materials they need for their learning. While accessibility is often associated with providing access for people with disabilities, issues of access are universal and affect all learners. To develop a course that is inclusive for all, consider accessibility broadly and how it impacts everyone.

Accessibility takes many forms, including:

  • Access to course materials for students with visual or hearing differences
  • Access to technology tools, reliable connections, and consideration of international restrictions on technology use
  • Affordability and the cost of course materials
  • Temporal access for students juggling multiple priorities or in different time zones
  • Access to multiple modalities regarding materials, activities, and learning assessments

The Equitable Access page has more details on these accessibility strategies.

Set norms and commitments

Collectively deciding on norms and making commitments for how students will interact with one another is an important step towards creating a respectful, supportive, and productive class learning environment.

Plan ahead before facilitating your norm setting activity with your students. There are many areas to consider for setting norms and commitments:

  • Charged conversations or discussions of challenging topics
  • Accountability, communication, and equitable work distribution during teamwork
  • Peer review, feedback, and critique
  • Office hours timing and modes of communication
  • Online discussion forum expectations
  • Managing video, minimizing distractions, and appropriate non-verbal communication in video conferencing 

See the page on Setting Norms and Commitments for more specific strategies.

Build inclusive learning communities

Research into the social and emotional dimensions of learning suggests that a sense of social disconnection from instructors and peers can impede learning and that this disproportionately impacts underrepresented students. Deliberately fostering a classroom community and helping students connect with one another can help students feel seen and valued, which can have positive impacts on learning, especially during online instruction.

Consider these general strategies for fostering an inclusive learning community:

  • Be conscious of visual and other cues that send implicit signals about who belongs and who can succeed.
  • Build opportunities for student choice and agency into the course.
  • Adopt caring practices to enhance student motivation.
  • Foster community and connection at all stages of the course experience.

See the page on Building Inclusive Community for more details and links to additional resources.

Support students with disabilities

Faculty and teaching staff play an important role when a student requests or requires academic accommodation based on a disability.

Instructors can best support students and the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) by:

  • Informing students of OAE and its services.
  • Respecting students' privacy and being compassionate.
  • Collaborating with OAE to modify and implement any recommended academic accommodation.

The Supporting Students with Disabilities page provides more details on how you can best work with OAE.

Facilitate inclusive and equitable discussions

Discussions are commonly used in actively engaged learning environments. These strategies can help to improve the quality of discussion in online as well as in-person formats:

  • Support students when examining potentially upsetting content
  • Use prompts or questions that elicit a variety of perspectives
  • Adopt practices that ensure equitable participation
  • Evaluate discussions along various dimensions

Go to Inclusive and Equitable Discussions for specific actions you can take to facilitate inclusive discussions.

Explore more inclusion and equity topics

The Teaching Commons Articles section offers a variety of additional resources organized under the Inclusion & Equity topic tag.

Learn More

Equitable access

Norms and commitments

Inclusive community

Accommodations for students with disabilities

Inclusive and equitable discussions