How are we defining inclusiveness?
Inclusive teaching involves ongoing reflection and actions to mitigate biases, value difference, enhance accessibility, encourage meaningful dialogue, and increase feelings of belonging among students.
Why should our teaching be inclusive?
At Lindenwood, we want our students to feel that they belong, that they are valued, and that they matter. We want them to feel that their diversity of experience, ability, identity, and opinion are appreciated and will not prove to be barriers to their learning. We want them to feel that they have the ability to succeed not only in a given course, but in the discipline being taught in that course. We want our students to become responsible citizens, global advocates, and effective communicators, and being a part of a diverse and inclusive learning community can help them to develop these attributes.
When students have the feelings and attributes mentioned above, it is often in large part due to the values, beliefs, and behaviors of their instructors. Research has shown that inclusive teaching is linked to a plethora of positive outcomes for all students due in part to the fact that it not only helps to reduce stereotype threat (Platts & Hoosier, 2020; Steele, 2010; Steele & Aronson, 1995), it also shows students they truly belong and can succeed in "scholarly spaces" (Gannon, 2018). In an inclusive classroom that welcomes, encourages, and values each individual, students report greater satisfaction with the course and increased motivation (Cooper, Haney, Krieg, & Brownell, 2017; Cornelius-White, 2007; Granitz, et. al., 2009) in addition to greater self-confidence and cultural awareness (Milem, 2003). When students feel a sense of belonging, they are more likely to achieve the course learning outcomes, develop higher-order thinking, and have higher educational aspirations (Allen, Witt, & Wheeless, 2006; Frisby & Martin, 2010; Granitz, et. al., 2009; Lundberg & Sheridan, 2015; Meyers, 2009; Pittman & Richmond, 2007; Wilson & Ryan, 2013).
Recent research by Gopalan and Brady (2020) found that “belonging was positively and robustly associated with outcomes colleges care deeply about, including persistence and mental health…[and] within-student increases in belonging were positively associated with improvements in these outcomes” (p. 136). It is obvious that making our courses more inclusive is an imperative given the tremendous impact on students’ academic and personal lives (Gannon, 2018; Glass, et. al., Hausmann, Schofield, & Woods, 2007).
Check out this study on the importance of fostering college students’ sense of belonging: College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A National Perspective.
What are some teaching strategies for enhancing inclusiveness?
- Making course materials that are accessible to students with varying abilities or learning preferences
- Including varied perspectives and identities in course materials or activities
- Asking students what names and pronouns they use, making earnest attempts to use them correctly and frequently
- Sharing about your own identity and experiences, and encouraging students to do the same
- Modeling and encouraging respectful communication and appreciation for diverse identities, abilities, and perspectives
- Encouraging students of all identities and abilities to see themselves as capable of success in the course and as potential scholars and/or practitioners in the field
- Encouraging students to discuss, disagree, and debate one another, the instructor, and scholars of the field (i.e., authors of readings) in constructive ways
- Creating learning activities or assignments that help students explore and empathize with cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own
- Creating assessments that gauge students’ prior knowledge so that it can be corrected and/or built upon
- Adapting course content, schedule, activities, or assessments to the interests or needs of students
- Implementing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework in your courses is a great way to ensure that you are meeting the needs and interests of your students. See the following resources for some great tips for adopting UDL for your courses:
- Did you know that the Learning Academy, in partnership with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the Office of Student Affairs and Community Equity and Inclusion, has a Certificate in Culturally Responsive Assessment? This virtual, self-paced learning experience will help instructors create assessments that are appropriate for a diverse student body. See the Certificate in Culturally Responsive Assessment FAQs or contact Assessment@lindenwood.edu for more information.
REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL READINGS ON INCLUSIVENESS
Allen, M., Witt, P. L., & Wheeless, L. R. (2006). The role of teacher immediacy as a motivational factor in student learning: Using meta-analysis to test a causal model. Communication Education, 55(1), 21–31.
Cooper, K. M., Haney, B., Krieg, A., & Brownell, S. E. (2017). What’s in a name? The importance of students perceiving that an instructor knows their names in a high-enrollment biology classroom. Cell Biology Education—Life Sciences Education, 16 (Spring), 1–13.
Cornelius-White, J. (2007). Learner-centered teacher-student relationships are effective: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 113–143.
Freeman, T. M., Anderman, L. H., & Jensen, J. M. (2007). Sense of belonging in college freshmen at the classroom and campus levels. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(3), 203–220. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20157456
Frisby, B. N., & Martin, M. M. (2010). Instructor-student and student-student rapport in the classroom. Communication Education, 59(2), 146–164.
Gannon, K. (2018) The case for Inclusive Teaching. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-case-for-inclusive-teaching/
Glass, C. R., Kociolek, E., Wongtrirat, R., Lynch, R. J., & Cong, S. (2015). Uneven experiences: The impact of student-faculty interactions on international students’ sense of belonging. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 353–367.
Goldwasser, M. M., & Hubbard, M. E. (2019). Creating and maintaining inclusive classrooms. Forum on Public Policy Online, 2019(1).
Gopalan, M., & Brady, S. T. (2020). College students’ sense of belonging: A national perspective. Educational Researcher, 49(2), 134–137. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X19897622
Granitz, N. A., Koernig, S. K., & Harich, K. R. (2009). Now it’s personal: Antecedents and outcomes of rapport between business faculty and their students. Journal of Marketing Education, 31(1), 52–65.
Hausmann, L. R. M., Schofield, J. W., & Woods, R. L. (2007). Sense of belonging as a predictor of intentions to persist among African American and white first-year college students. Research in Higher Education, 48(7), 803–839.
Lundberg, C. A., & Sheridan, D. (2015). Benefits of engagement with peers, faculty, and diversity for online learners. College Teaching, 63(1), 8–15.
Meyers, S. A. (2009). Do your students care whether you care about them? College Teaching, 57(4), 205–210.
Milem, J.F. (2003). The educational benefits of diversity: Evidence from multiple sectors. In Compelling interest: Examining the evidence on racial dynamics in higher education, ed. M. Chang et al., 126-69. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Pittman, L. D., & Richmond, A. (2007). Academic and psychological functioning in late adolescence: The importance of school belonging. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(4): 270–90. https://doi.org/10.3200/JEXE.75.4.270-292
Platts, T. K., & Hoosier, K. (2020). Reducing stereotype threat in the classroom. Inquiry, 23(1).
Steele, C.M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: How stereotypes affect us and what we can do. New York: W.W. Norton.
Steele, C.M. & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69(5), 797–811.
Strayhorn, T.L. (2018). College students’ sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students (2nd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315297293
Walton, G. M., & Brady, S. T. (2017). The many questions of belonging. In A. J. Elliot, C. S. Dweck, & D. S. Yeager (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (2nd Edition): Theory and application (pp. 272–293). Guilford Press.
Wilson, J. H., & Ryan, R. G. (2013). Professor-student rapport scale: Six items predict student outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 40(2), 130–133.