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Critical Theory Pedagogies Guide

Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive pedagogy is "a pedagogical approach that responds to learner diversity in ways that avoid the marginalisation of some learners in the community of the classroom" (Spratt & Florian, 2015). Inclusive pedagogy "strives to serve the needs of all students, regardless of background or identity, and support their engagement with subject material” (Yale University).

Inclusion of All Students

 Inclusive teaching involves “inclusion of all students into our fields and disciplines” and seeks to provide “equal opportunities for all students to have a successful learning experience” (Brown University CTL). 

Inclusive teaching works to “address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities” and the strategies used “contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment in which students feel equally valued” (Cornell University).

Acknowledge Difference

In order for education to be inclusive, instructors must first acknowledge the differences that students may have in the ways that they learn and ensure that different forms of assessment, engagement, or participation that are included to fit the needs and goals of individual students.

Accessible Design

Design instruction content to be accessible.

Multiple Ways to Engage

Provide students with a variety of ways to participate in class, including active learning activities, using different media to present material, and using a variety of social or group activities.

Vary Methods of Assessment

Vary methods of assessing students' growth and learning. Students may be given multiple choices for a final project, or assessment could be many small assignments across the course of a class.


Instructors can help create an inclusive classroom by reflecting on their own biases or privileges, as well as reflecting on their teaching methods and practices. Practice continual self-evaluation, class journals, and so on to self-assess and reflect.

Putting it into Practice

  1. Diversity Statements & Guidelines

    1. Provide a diversity statement in the syllabus or the assignment or activity. 

    2. Activities can also include statements.

  2. Model Inclusive Language

    Instructors can serve as a model for students by using inclusive language and creating a safe environment.
    1. Instructors can include a statement in the syllabus or acknowledgement in course documents.

    2. Encourage collaboration rather than competition among students, and seek to combat any messages that may de-motivate students (Columbia). 

  3. Connect with & Get to Know Students

    1. Survey students' expectations and goals for the instruction

    2. Convey confidence in all students' abilities.

    3. Avoid making assumptions about students' abilities or experiences.

    4. Encourage students to include their experiences as they approach a concept, goal, or assignment. This can include having students share their interest in the assignment or topic with each other to understand their individual goals and perspectives (Columbia University).

  4. Provide Multiple Ways of Learning

    1. Incorporate active learning activities (Yale).

    2. Give students options and choice for how they can participate or learn (e.g. an option to participate in a written assignment or a collaborative project) (Columbia University).

  5. Accessible Design

    1. Consider how presenting information could present barriers to learners to improve accessibility broadly. 

    2. Include supporting materials (e.g. a glossary, illustrations) and multiple types of examples to ease barriers (Columbia University).

  6. Assessment

    1. Assessment of student learning is transparent. Be clear about what students will be learning, the steps they need to complete any tasks, and include clear guides for achieving success in course/lesson guidelines (Columbia University).

    2. Feedback given can be framed to include: instructors' high standards, encouragement that the student is capable of meeting those standards, and clear feedback on how to improve (Columbia University).

Activities for Self-Reflection & Education

Key Figures & Theorists

  • Paulo Freire (1921-1997) - Paulo Freire was a philosopher of education whose work became the foundation of critical pedagogy. Read more about Paulo Freire at the Freire Institute.
  • Susan A. Ambrose - Scholar and educator whose work focuses on college-level education. Read more about Ambrose.
  • Claude M. Steele - Social psychologist and professor whose work focuses on stereotype threat and minority students in higher education. Read more about Steele.
  • Lani Florian - Professor and scholar whose work focuses on inclusive pedagogy. Read more about Florian.
  • Kristine Black-Hawkins - Professor and scholar whose work focuses on inclusive education. Read more about Black-Hawkins.

Key Readings

Additional Readings & Resources

Inclusive Language

Additional Guides