Anne Lynn answers some of the many questions during a field trip

Learn more about Inclusive Teaching Strategies to engage your students and improve their learning!

Inclusive Teaching Practices

Inclusive teaching refers to methods that are designed to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant, and accessible to all. Equitable learning environments provide supports to address individual student needs and promote learning for all students. Creating an inclusive classroom is a process that should begin before the term with development of your syllabus and lesson plans. There are many strategies that educators can use to create an inclusive learning environment.

Below are several resources around inclusive teaching that you can incorporate when you use MRSEC educational materials.

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Inclusive Teaching Framework and Strategies

  1. A paper outlining a Framework for Inclusive Teaching is: Marchesani, L. S., &Adams, M. (1992). Dynamics of diversity in the teaching-learning process: A faculty development model for analysis and action. In Maurianne Adams (Ed.), New directions for teaching and learning:Vol. 52. Promoting diversity in college classrooms: Innovative responses for the curriculum, faculty, and institutions (pp. 9–19). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  2.  A link to an inventory of inclusive teaching strategies for you to consider implementing. You can also directly download a PDF of the Inclusive Teaching Strategies Inventory.

Group Work

  1. A link to a page about effectively using cooperative learning groups.
  2. A list of constructive and destructive group behaviors. Using this list, students can consider which constructive and destructive behaviors they exhibit as a way to raise awareness of how they function in a group. The teacher can then lead a discussion of these behaviors to raise awareness in the entire class. You can download a PDF of Constructive and Destructive Group Behaviors.

Constructive Group Behaviors

Cooperating: Is interested in the views and perspectives of the other group members and is willing to adapt for the good of the group.

Clarifying: Makes issues clear for the group by listening, summarizing and focusing discussions.

Inspiring: Enlivens the group, encourages participation and progress.

Harmonizing: Encourages group cohesion and collaboration. For example, uses humor as a relief after a particularly difficult discussion.

Risk Taking: Is willing to risk possible personal loss or embarrassment for the group or project success.

Process Checking: Questions the group on process issues such as agenda, time frames, discussion topics, decision methods, use of information, etc.

Destructive Group behaviors

Dominating: Takes much of meeting time expressing self views and opinions. Tries to take control by use of power, time, etc.

Rushing: Encourages the group to move on before task is complete. Gets “tired” of listening to others and working as a group.

Withdrawing: Removes self from discussions or decision making. Refuses to participate.

Discounting: Disregards or minimizes group or individual ideas or suggestions. Severe discounting behavior includes insults, which are often in the form of jokes.

Digressing: Rambles, tells stories, and takes group away from primary purpose.

Blocking: Impedes group progress by obstructing all ideas and suggestions. “That will never work because…”

1 Adapted from Brunt (1993). Facilitation Skills for Quality Improvement. Quality Enhancement Strategies. 1008 Fish Hatchery Road. Madison. WI 53715

Research-Informed Inclusive Teaching Practices

A list of references around research-informed inclusive teaching practices. These strategies: 1) address feelings common among marginalized students; 2) help underperforming students do better (evidence-based strategies to promote learning are most beneficial to students from marginalized groups); and 3) do not have detrimental effects for students who are not in marginalized groups. (Articles marked with an * are based on Markus Brauer’s presentation at the Teaching Academy Fall 2019 Retreat, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Learn more at Dr. Markus Brauer’s website.)

Social Belonging

The most powerful predictor of success for students from marginalized groups is a feeling of social belonging.

*1) Walton, Gregory. M., Cohen, Geoffrey L., Cwir, David, & Spencer, Steven J. (2012). Mere belonging: The power of social connections. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(3), 513-532.

*2) Walton, Gregory M., & Cohen, Geoffrey L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331(6023), 1447-1451.

From the abstract: “over the 3-year observation period the intervention raised African Americans’ grade-point average (GPA)relative to multiple control groups and halved the minority achievement gap. This performance boost was mediated by the effect of the intervention on subjective construal: It prevented students from seeing adversity on campus as an indictment of their belonging. Additionally, the intervention improved African Americans’ self-reported health and well-being and reduced their reported number of doctor visits 3 years post intervention.”

*3) Meeuwisse, Marieke, Severiens, Sabine E., & Born, Marise P. (2010). Learning environment, interaction, sense of belonging and study success in ethnically diverse student groups. Research in Higher Education, 51(6), 528-545.

4) 60 Seconds to Remembering Names with Brad Zupp, Corporate Speaker

Utility Value

Make sure that students see the real world/“utility value” of materials they are learning. Having students self-generate why the content matters is more impactful.

*1) Canning, Elizabeth A., & Harackiewicz, Judith M. (2015). Teach it, don’t preach it: The differential effects of directly-communicated and self-generated utility–value information. Motivation Science, 1(1), 47-71

*2) Harackiewicz, Judith M., Canning, Elizabeth A., Tibbetts, Yoi, Priniski, Stacy J., & Hyde, Janet S. (2016). Closing achievement gaps with a utility-value intervention: Disentangling race and social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), 745-765.

Malleability of Intelligence

Intelligence and performance can be improved through personal effort.

*1) Paunesku, David, Walton, Gregory M., Romero, Carissa, Smith, Eric N., Yeager, David S., & Dweck, Carol S. (2015). Mind-set interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement. Psychological science, 26(6), 784-793.

*2) Broda, Michael, Yun, John, Schneider, Barbara, Yeager, David S., Walton, Gregory M., & Diemer, Matthew. (2018). Reducing inequality in academic success for incoming college students: A randomized trial of growth mindset and belonging interventions. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 11(3), 317-338.


Encourage students to express their personal values and why they hold these values.

*1) Miyake, Akira, Kost-Smith, Lauren E., Finkelstein, Noah D., Pollock, Steven J., Cohen, Geoffrey L., & Ito, Tiffany A. (2010). Reducing the gender achievement gap in college science: A classroom study of values affirmation. Science, 330(6008), 1234-1237.

*2) Cohen, Geoffrey L., Garcia, Julio, Purdie-Vaughns, Valerie, Apfel, Nancy, & Brzustoski, Patricia. (2009). Recursive processes in self-affirmation: Intervening to close the minority achievement gap. Science, 324(5925), 400-403.

Providing Role Models

When presenting empirical research results show your students pictures of the scientists responsible for that research.

*1) Lockwood, Penelope (2006). “Someone like me can be successful”: Do college students need same-gender role models?. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(1), 36-46.

Encouraging Feedback

Assure students that feedback is being provided because you have high standards and you believe they can meet them.

*1) Yeager, David S., Purdie-Vaughns, Valerie, Garcia, Julio, Apfel, Nancy, Brzustoski, Patti, Master, Allison, Hessert, William T., Williams, Matthew E., & Cohen, Goeffrey. L. (2014). Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(2), 804.

Increasing Student Motivation

*1) Williams, Kaylene C., & Williams, Caroline C. (2011). Five key ingredients for improving student motivation. Research in Higher Education Journal, 11.

*2) Webpage detailing how to read a textbook

Re-framing Adversities

Help students re-frame adverse situations they encounter and focus on resilience and strengths students have that will help them succeed.

1) Stephens, Nicole M., Hamedani, MarYam G., & Townsend, Sarah S. M. (2019). Difference matters: Teaching students a contextual theory of difference can help them succeedPerspectives on Psychological Science14, 156-174 doi: 10.1177/1745691618797957

2) Townsend, Sarah S. M., Stephens, Nicole M., *Smallets, Stephanie, & Hamedani, MarYam G. (2019). Empowerment through difference: An online difference-education intervention closes the social class achievement gapPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45, 1068-1083. doi: 10.1177/0146167218804548

3) Harper, Shaun R.  (2010). An anti‐deficit achievement framework for research on students of color in STEM. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2010(148), 63-74.

Provide Opportunities for Self-Testing

*1) Hattikudur, Shanta, & Postle, Bradley R. (2011). Effects of test-enhanced learning in a cognitive psychology course. Journal of Behavioral and Neuroscience Research, 9(2), 151-157. DOI: 10.1002/ir.362


Classroom Discussions

Here are some resources for establishing guidelines for classroom discussions that are inclusive of all students.

This is a link to Respect Differences? Challenging the Common Guidelines in Social Justice Education.

This is a link to Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or High-Stakes Topics.

Instructor and Student Identity

Below are a series of articles and activities around dimensions of identity that instructors should consider when working towards teaching inclusively.

  1.  Yosso’s Cultural Wealth Model – Instructors can help students identify their own sources of cultural capital and wealth. Yosso*, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race ethnicity and education, 8(1), 69-91.
  2. Barnett, Pamela E. (2013). Unpacking Teachers’ Invisible Knapsacks: Social Identity and Privilege in Higher Education. Liberal Education, 99(3), n3.
  3. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
  4. Social Identity Wheel to help instructors and students identify their own identities and think about how those identities impact their teaching and/or learning.
  5. An Instructor’s Guide to Understanding Privilege. University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science and the Arts
  6. White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies” (1988) by Peggy McIntosh