Salisbury University students on campus

Inclusive Pedagogy

What is Inclusive Pedagogy?

Georgetown University's Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) articulates inclusive pedagogy nicely by explaining that:

"Inclusive pedagogy is a student-centered approach to teaching that pays attention to the varied background, learning styles, and abilities of all the learners in front of you. It is a method of teaching in which instructors and students work together to create a supportive and open environment that fosters social justice and allows each individual to be fully present and feel equally valued."

Why is it beneficial?

Inclusive pedagogy supports inclusion by providing an inviting environment to all students, allowing them to feel that their experiences, abilities and forms of meaning making are important to the classroom community. Inclusive pedagogy moves beyond voicing a belief of inclusivity to fostering a true environment of belonging. Inclusion indicates that space has been made for the varied identities and abilities that each student carries with them as part of their identity. However, providing space does not necessarily indicate that a culture of belonging has been developed; students can be included while feeling unwelcome. Belonging is the feeling of being part of something where you matter to others, which is fostered through inclusion, but that relies on intentional acts of providing student voice and honoring the student as a whole. When students feel that they matter, their engagement and motivation to succeed and contribute as a positive member of the community increases, increasing a multi-cultural, multi-faceted community of shared learning experiences. In short, inclusion and belonging benefit everyone.

What are the challenges?

People carry with them a collection of conscious and unconscious biases. Taking time to reflect on these biases and to surface unconscious biases in order to address them can be uncomfortable for people. Additionally, a challenge in confronting your personal biases and understanding your personal experiences that shaped these biases, sometimes results in the Backfire Effect and/or justification through confirmation bias. However, such forms of self-reflection are the first step towards developing an inclusive pedagogy, by realizing areas of inclusion that can move to belonging by confronting and mitigating bias.

Sometimes this means recognizing the implicit bias hidden in existing educational structures and materials, which means time and effort in reworking the forms of representation, assessment strategies, and activities you use in your classroom.

How can this be implemented?

Inclusive pedagogy involves considering the needs of all students to support the growth of their identity, scholarly voice, and feeling of belonging as they grow as learners at SU. To do this, you can start by exploring the following resources: