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Two sources of ideas for creating more inclusive learning environments

A topic that’s very much on people’s minds these days, here at EvCC and at many other colleges, is the concept of inclusive learning environments: spaces (conceptual as well as physical) that are truly conducive to learning. One of the basic foundations of inclusive pedagogy is the conviction that people learn best when they don’t feel overlooked, marginalized, or threatened — or, to put that in more positive terms, when they perceive that they are acknowledged, included, and respected.

I imagine almost everyone who chooses to teach or work at a college or university shares this view, in large part because we all understand that a person who feels ostracized and excluded is unlikely to be able to make the most of opportunities to learn. That’s one of the reasons that many colleges (ours included) publicly announce their commitment to establishing inclusive campus communities.

When it comes to moving from a broad principle to the specific circumstances of an individual course, though, it can be hard to know exactly what concrete steps to take as an instructor so that all students see the classroom as a space that includes them. Fortunately, there are now many excellent resources available that provide specific suggestions to help you do exactly that. Best of all, many of them also include references to research on inclusive pedagogy and its effects, so that you can pursue the topic in much greater depth if desired.

One of my favorites is Creating Inclusive College Classrooms, from the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. This brief guide covers everything from choosing specific materials to include in your course to strategies for recognizing and addressing various types of inequities in the classroom. All of its suggestions are backed by¬† research on the effects of inclusive environments on learning.

Another great resource is the series On Diversity in Teaching and Learning, in which faculty at the University of Colorado discuss aspects of inclusive pedagogy. The essays are typically short and focus on specific practices and methods the faculty themselves have used to promote inclusion in their own teaching.

Those are two sites I frequently find myself visiting whenever I have questions about inclusive teaching, but of course there are many others. What resources, publications, and sites have you found helpful when thinking about inclusion in your field or in the classes you teach? Share them in the comments below, and I’ll happily update this post with contributions from the EvCC teaching community.

[Edited 2/8/2017: Typo correction]