Are You an Inclusive Instructor?

March 22, 2019

“Are you an inclusive instructor?”  Someone recently asked me that question and I hesitated before I replied “I think so” and in the back of my mind I was thinking “but how do I know if I’m being successful at being inclusive or not?”

Just to be clear, inclusive pedagogy is an approach “that responds to learner diversity in ways that avoid the marginalization of some learners in the community of the classroom.”  (Spratt & Florian, 2015). Research indicates inclusive pedagogy improves learner motivation (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 2010) a cornerstone of student success, as is having a sense of belonging to an academic community (Moallem, 2013).  Furthermore, creating an inclusive learning environment not only improves the experience for marginalized students but also can benefit other students in the class as well (Eddy & Hogan, 2014; Haak, et al., 2011).

Being an inclusive instructor requires the commitment to teaching People, not just Content by incorporating strategies which support learners knowing and appreciating one another.  Here are a few steps to take to assess and improve your level of inclusive pedagogical practice:

1-Reflect on the following questions (adapted from Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 2010):

a.In what ways to do you emphasize the human purpose of what is being learned and its relationship to the student’s experience?

b.In what ways do you share the ownership of “knowing” with all student?

c.In what ways do you provide spaces in the course for meaningful collaboration and cooperation?

d.In what ways do you invite students to point out behaviors or practices that are inequitable?

2-    Raise your awareness of inclusive practices using the following UC Berkeley resources.  Peruse Available Classroom/Course Tools:

3-Attend discussions:



4-Talk with the diversity and inclusion experts in your department or school.

5-Review your course using the Inclusive Pedagogy Framework which lists skills, strategies and specific practices in the core competency areas of Inclusive Communication, Inclusive Pedagogy Practices, and Designing Inclusive Curriculum:

6-Consider how you might empower students to lead the way.  For example, in the EECS department an organization called Bias Busters was formed by graduate students, faculty and staff.  This group provides information sessions and sponsor events to raise awareness around implicit bias:

There is always more to do to deepen our understanding of one another’s perspectives, experiences, and cultures, so before you move on to summer, determine the top 3 things you will do to strengthen inclusive pedagogy in your course(s) for the coming year.


Haak, D. C., HilleRisLambers, J., Pitre, E., & Freeman, S. (2011). Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology.  Science, 332 (6034), 1213-1216. 

Moallem, I. (2013). A meta-analysis of school belonging and academic success and persistence (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from

Spratt, J. & Florian, L. (2015). Inclusive pedagogy: From learning to action. Supporting each individual in the context of ‘everybody’. Teaching and Teacher Education, 49, 89-96.

Wlodkowski, R. J. & Ginsberg, M. B. (2010).  Teaching intensive and accelerated courses: Instruction that motivates learning.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.