Making Courses Inclusive
Many instructors struggle with the meaning of Inclusive Course Design. You may first think of focusing on underrepresented minority populations. In a 2012 interview for Faculty Focus, Christine Stanley emphasized: "It's not teaching to marginalized populations. Good teaching is multicultural teaching."1 Being deliberate about including a minority view in discussions can also help overcome groupthink and lead to better understanding and deeper learning. By considering the needs of all of the students in the course, you make the course better for everyone. Inclusive classrooms also prepare students for later careers when they will most likely work with a very diverse population.
However, cultural diversity is only one aspect of inclusivity. Consideration should also be given to different styles of learning and forms of expression. Providing a different medium of getting information can allow students to use what works best for them, but also allows everyone to have multiple resources to reinforce concepts they struggle with. This also contributes to making lessons accessible for students with disabilities.
Do not get overwhelmed with the magnitude of considerations for inclusivity. You do not need to tackle everything at once; each step you take will improve your course for your students. As Matt Ouellett told Faculty Focus, "No matter where your class is or where you're starting, there are always ways to think more deeply about how to make it a more welcoming and inclusive environment for the success of all students."1
The following sections will give you more details on how to make your classroom more inclusive:
1Understanding the Elements of an Inclusive Course Design, Faculty Focus, October 2, 2012