Inclusive teaching practices

Inclusive content and inclusive pedagogical approach…by design

Montclair State University Teaching Principles 

Principle 4: 

  • “develop and teach courses through inclusion of content from multiple perspectives, considering diversity in all its forms, as understanding differing experiences is critical for all students’ deep learning.” 
  • “it is incumbent upon instructors to actively counter disciplinary and other habits of bias through systematic evaluation of course content and pedagogy for diversity: in viewpoints, population focus, as well as author identity.”

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging

  • Diversity is about who attends MSU and attends your class
  • Equity is about making the playing field of your classroom equal for all students through your own actions of engagement, observation, and responsiveness
  • Inclusion is about ensuring that all students are respected, integrated, and successful at MSU and in your class
  • Belonging is about ensuring that all students at MSU feel valued and accepted, truly legitimate students, at MSU and in your class.



Who is in your classroom?

How do you know?

  1. Look it up
  2. Ask explicitly [survey]
  3. Ask implicitly

         a. Share about your own identity, and how aspects of your identity influence your learning, your understanding of the subject of your course, etc

         b. Encourage introspection and sharing about individual perspectives and how they are shaped by culture and upbringing: “Why do you think you think what you think?”

         c. Make your classroom a place where students can reveal who they are, do not have to assume a generic student position.  

Equity = making the playing field of your classroom equal


Equity-minded teachers:

  1. observe for inequity: patterns of silence, disengagement, exclusion
  2. seek feedback and perspectives from students
  3. experiment with different methods of teaching & assessing

Some steps

  1. Communicate course requirements early — including resources needed.
  2. Proactively support students who are struggling with resources.
  3. Observe your “assumed knowledge” — is it equitable? biased?
    1. diversify your references & examples
    2. define cultural references
    3. check-in on assumed knowledge
  4. Vary your assignments & assessments so that all students can have that “perfect assignment for me” experience at least sometimes.
  5. Be thoughtful with your carrots & sticks — if they are having unintended consequences, re-think.

Inclusion = ensuring that all students are respected, integrated, and successful


 1. Course content check

    1. Are there multiple perspectives on course topics?
    2. Do you see diversity in creators & authors?
    3. Do you provide views of various people?
    4. Are you impressed with the representation of others by selected authors? That is, an author is just one person, but is that author writing about many perspectives?

2. Pedagogical Approach

    1. Observe and call attention to exclusive perspectives and approaches in course content
    2. Ask students directly: whose perspective might be missing here?
    3. Observe and disrupt patterns of dominance
    4. Seek out one-to-one interactions with students who appear excluded, even if appears self-excluded.

Belonging = ensuring that all students at MSU feel valued, accepted & legitimate at MSU and in your class


Power of Belonging

    • students who have a sense of belonging persist at greater rates (Hausmann et al, 2007)
    • sense of belonging is a predictor of motivation, engagement, and achievement (Zumbrunn et all 2014)

Facilitating Belonging

    1. Avoid, address, and counter stereotypes about who does and does not belong in discipline
    2. Endorse effort & hard work (a growth mindset) over “brilliance,” which people with privilege more often see themselves as having innately
    3. Acknowledge that challenges to experiencing belonging, and address impostor syndrome common to minorities, women, and any student who experiences a lack of belonging.
    4. Ensure diverse representation in the subject matter
    5. Know & use student names
    6. Counter stereotype threat: students are aware of stereotypes and these stereotypes interfere with success, but can be countered logically