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Inclusive Pedagogy

What is this guide?

This guide is intended to help introduce faculty to up-to-date OWU Library resources on inclusive pedagogy. Whether you are hoping to learn some of the basic terminology you may hear in meetings, see a selection of recent scholarly articles, or pick up a book on the topic, hopefully this guide will be able to direct you to resources that can help you better understand inclusive pedagogy.

Below, we have a set of terms you may see or hear regularly in that literature or in on-campus discussions. We've offered brief definitions of those terms, but if there are others that you would like us to add, please reach out to Calvin Cleary.

Inclusive Pedagogy

"A philosophy of teaching that provides equal opportunities for all students to have a successful learning experience." (Dewsbury, 2017)

Learn about your students' lives.

  • Inclusive pedagogy thrives when the instructor knows their students. Knowing what they're passionate about, where they've struggled in the past, and other things can help you create more inclusive lessons!

Make learning communal.

  • Group activities where everyone can collaborate in one space can reduce the emphasis on the contributions of any single student, which may help make learning communities where achievement is shared, rather than hierarchies or high and low achievers.

Avoid singling out struggling students for 'special' work.

  • Be aware of students with different needs, but do not single them out for 'special' work. Instead, try to create assignments and projects that take those needs into consideration for everyone.

Dewsbury, B. M. (2017). On faculty development of STEM inclusive teaching practices. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 364(18).

Spratt, J., Florian, L. (2015) Inclusive pedagogy: From learning to action. Supporting each individual in the context of ‘everybody’. Teaching and Teacher Education. 49. 89-96.

Implicit Bias

"Implicit biases are automatic associations with social groups. They are considered biases because different associations are linked via social stereotypes to different groups. Even though an association between a group and stereotyped concepts does not imply intentional animosity, implicit biases have been theorized to be a source of (perhaps unintentional) discriminatory treatment." (Vuletich & Payne, 2019)

Broaden your horizons.

  • Make an effort to understand your subject area from multiple points of view. Learning how feminist scholarship, disability scholarship, LTBGQ studies, and other critical lenses view these topics can help challenge and change long-held assumptions at the core of implicit biases.

It's not about blame.

  • No one can know what you have in your heart, so when someone brings up a potential bias, that is a judgment on an action you have taken rather than a statement about you as a person. Their goal is not to make you feel guilty or to hurt you, but to prompt you to think about the actions in question.

Be aware of your biases.

  • Simply being aware of what biases you hold can help start the process of making better choices for you and for your students.

Applebaum, B. (2021). Remediating Campus Climate: Implicit Bias Training is Not Enough. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 38(2), 129-141.

Holroyd, J. (2012). Responsibility for Implicit Bias. Journal of Social Philosophy, 43(3).

Vuletich, H. A., Payne, B. K. (2019). Stability and Change in Implicit Bias. Psychological Science, 30(6), 854-862.


Person-first Language & Identity-first Language

"In person-first language, the person is emphasized, not the individual’s disabling or chronic condition." (APA Publication Manual, 136)

"In identity-first language, the disability becomes the focus, which allows the individual to claim the disability and choose their identity rather than permitting others to name it or to select terms with negative implications." (APA Publication Manual, 136)

People are not a monolith.

  • Different groups -- and different individuals within those groups -- may have different preferences. While the APA recommends person-first language in many instances, certain communities have expressed different preferences. What is important is listening to the feedback you are getting and using the language your students in those groups prefer.

Mix it up.

  • Don't be scared to try different things. While students can self-identify, and you should follow their wishes, many will not. If that's the case, try different things. If you always go with person-first language, for example, you may wind up saying "person with..." or "person of..." over and over again. To keep your writing and speech smooth, remember that you can often mix-and-match.

Ask questions.

  • If you are at all uncertain about the terminology different groups may prefer, you can always reach out to advocacy groups to learn what language they prefer. That said, remember, the person you are working with directly should always take priority.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).