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Inclusive Teaching and Learning

In Collaboration with the Office of Equity and Success

Inclusive Teaching and Learning best practices and resources have been provided by the Office of Equity and Success in collaboration with the Center for Instructional Design and Delivery. For questions on content, please contact the Office of Equity and Success at 301-447-5256 or

What are diversity, equity, and inclusion?

The definitions below are from the “Making Excellence Inclusive” site of the Association of American Colleges & Universities.


Individual differences (e.g., personality, prior knowledge, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations).


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 empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.


The creation of opportunities for historically underserved populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion.


"The term 'Equity-Mindedness' refers to the perspective or mode of thinking exhibited by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes. These practitioners are willing to take personal and institutional responsibility for the success of their students, and critically reassess their own practices. It also requires that practitioners are race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education." (Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California).

Why is inclusion important?

graduates at Mount commencement

Increasing inclusivity in the classroom is critical for students to achieve their full potential and to promote equity in academic success. Nationwide, there is an achievement gap based on race and ethnicity. According the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s recent report, Asian and white students had much higher six-year college completion rates (68.9% and 66.1% respectively) than Hispanic and Black students (48.6% and 39.5% respectively).

At the Mount, for the graduating classes of 2015-2017, the achievement gap between students of color and the institutional average is 13% for freshman to sophomore retention rate and 12% for 4-year graduation rate (2019 Fact Book). While many institutional initiatives are underway to promote more equitable student outcomes, professors can meaningfully contribute to this effort by committing themselves to inclusive pedagogy.

As Kevin Gannon wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Even with expansion of campus activities and amenities, and the proliferation of student services, the fact remains: What happens with and between professors in the classroom – physical or online – remains the heart of our enterprise. It’s the critical element of year-to-year persistence and degree completion.”

What does a commitment to inclusive pedagogy look like?

Text adapted from creative commons page from Iowa State CELT: Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive pedagogy at its core is a student-centered approach to teaching that faculty create an inviting and engaging learning environment to all the students with varied backgrounds, learning styles, and physical and cognitive abilities in the classroom. Drawing from a large body of the scholarship of teaching and learning, it is clear that inclusive pedagogy improves learning outcomes when faculty attend to student differences and take deliberate steps to ensure that all students feel welcomed and supported in the classroom.

Principles of Inclusive Pedagogy

  • Being Flexible – open to change and versatile
  • Being Equitable – ensuring consistency and accessibility for all
  • Working Collaboratively – involving students and stakeholders
  • Supporting Personalization – recognizing that successful learning and teaching is governed by personal difference
  • Embracing Diversity – creating opportunities to develop awareness of diversity and global issues

Effective Practices in Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive teaching is relevant to all disciplines, regardless of subject matter, and describes a foundational intention that can take the form of many different techniques and pedagogical approaches.

Effective Practices in Inclusive Pedagogy Include:

Apply Universal Design

The principles of universal design are intended to make course materials and learning experiences accessible and welcoming to all learners. They guide instructors to vary their teaching strategies to meet diverse learning needs and perspectives, allow students various ways to demonstrate their learning, and encourage the development of a supportive class community, among other recommendations. Learn more from CELT’s Universal Design for Learning Overview page.

Diversify Course Materials

Incorporate diverse perspectives by including readings from authors of many different identities and backgrounds, representing a variety of experiences in examples and case studies, and reflecting a diversity of individuals in course imagery and multimedia content.

Cultivate an Inclusive Climate

Set the tone for respectful and supportive class interactions by setting explicit expectations for discussions and class discourse and addressing incidents of incivility and bias directly. To begin, review CELT’s Ideas to Create a Welcoming, Engaging and Inclusive Classroom page or download CELT’s Explore ways to create a welcoming learning environment (PDF)

Communicate Sources of Support

Add an inclusion statement and information about available student resources to your syllabus, and talk about them in class. Keep in mind that all students will not be equally aware of—or equally comfortable seeking out—academic and non-academic support and resources. Providing this information by default, rather than by request, can help make these supports accessible to all students. Learn more from CELT’s How to Create an Effective Syllabus page.

Be Mindful of Language

Model inclusive language by asking students about their personal pronouns, using generic language (e.g. “everyone” and “winter break” rather than “you guys” and “Christmas break”), and acknowledging different lived experiences. Avoid generalizing your own experience (e.g. living conditions, ability to travel, nuclear family composition) or assuming that all students have had the same experiences as one another.

Build Rapport

Take steps to get to know your students and facilitate opportunities for them to get to know one another. These suggestions for the first day of class can help build rapport, read through CELT’s 10 Ideas for a Great First Day of Class page.

Examine Your Own Implicit Bias

Consider how your own culturally-bound assumptions may influence your interactions with students, course materials, and your discipline. Reflect on your potential biases by reviewing these examples from Yale University, inviting feedback from students and outside observers, or taking an online self-assessment. To dig deeper into this topic, borrow the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People from the DCAL Lending Library in Baker 102.

Foster a Growth Mindset

Provide opportunities for students to make mistakes and fail in a safe environment, where they can try again and apply what they have learned in the process. Convey the idea that faltering can provide opportunities to grow, and is not a reflection of fixed, natural abilities, or lack thereof. Be sensitive to provoking stereotype threat, a phenomenon in which students’ awareness of negative stereotypes linking identity and ability can lead to depressed academic performance (University of Michigan’s Strategies for Inclusive Teaching, 2018).

Additional Resources

Resources for building your foundational knowledge to promote an inclusive lens

There is a large body of research behind the framework, concepts, and techniques used in inclusive pedagogy. This section provides resources on topics that serve as the foundation for inclusive pedagogy.

Resources Include:

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Booklists

The Phillips Library is committed to supporting the learning and research of all members of our campus community. As part of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we maintain a collection of print books that feature diverse voices, perspectives, and stories.

Explore the reading lists

Stereotype Threat

(adapted from Vanderbilt University with creative commons license)

Stereotype threat refers to a student’s fear of confirming a negative stereotype about their respective in-group, a fear that can create high cognitive load and reduce academic focus and performance. The effects of stereotype threat are profound and can impact students from a variety of backgrounds.  Multiple studies have found that stereotype threat significantly reduces performance for undergraduates from less privileged socioeconomic statuses, African American students, women in math and science courses, as well as Latinx and LGBT students at traditionally religious institutions. Identifying and eliminating stereotype threat should be a central goal for teachers who want to increase inclusivity in the classroom.

Steve Stroessner (Columbia) and Catherine Good (Baruch College) provide guidelines and concrete strategies to reduce stereotype threat in the classroom. Their work can be found here. These psychologists classify strategies to reduce stereotype threat into the following categories:

Reframe the task
This portion of the website describes ways that teachers can reduce stereotype threat by acknowledging the steps that they have taken to make a task or test fair for stereotyped groups.

Deemphasize threatened social identities
This activity encourages test givers to modify questions that might make stereotyped groups recall their stigmatized identity while they are performing a graded task. The modifications can include moving identity questions to the end of the test or asking questions that highlight students’ valued identities to empower students to perform well.

Encourage self-affirmation
Repeatedly, studies suggest that self-affirmation – where students think about their valued characteristics, skills etc. – leads to increased performance. This section of the website presents evidence and examples of self-affirmation activities.

Provide role models
Positive role models, who perform well in fields that typically invoke stereotype threat, can increase otherwise poor performance for stigmatized groups.

Provide external attributions for difficulty
Help students attribute their anxieties to causes other than stereotype to lessen anxiety for students who would normally suffer from stereotype threat. For example, some studies posited that instructors reduced poor performance by suggesting that anxiety might actually help with test taking, without connecting the anxiety to any stereotype.

Emphasize an incremental view of intelligence
This portion of the website suggests that instructors should assist students to overcome fixed notions of intelligence. When notions of genius or inherent talent were downplayed, stereotype threat was greatly reduced.

Additional resources


Contact CIDD

The Center for Instructional Design and Delivery is available by phone at 301-447-5084 or by email at