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Inclusive Practices


Inclusive pedagogies are practices that create equitable and socially just learning environments, ensuring that all learners have the opportunity to demonstrate their achievement of course learning outcomes.  These practices are based on ways of thinking about education that consider individual, curricular, and social factors that impact students’ ability to learn effectively. 

This section was adapted from Inclusive Pedagogies by Christina Page, Jennifer Hardwick, and Seanna Takacs.  Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Students come to the university from diverse backgrounds, with unique lived experience, and varied abilities, all of which affect how they learn. Sometimes these differences are perceived to be a “deficit” which, according to David and Museus (2019), frames “students from historically oppressed populations [as] responsible for the challenges and inequalities that they face” (para. 1). Using a deficit perspective to examine these challenges serves to “maintain hegemonic systems and, in doing so, fail[s] to place accountability with oppressive structures, policies, and practices within educational settings” (David & Museus, 2019, para. 1). Inclusive practices that embrace Universal Design for Learning (UDL) allow instructors to reduce the impacts of systemic barriers based on identity, ability, or circumstance (Page, Hardwick, & Takacs, 2021).


Consider these strategies for inclusive practice: 

Teach to the margins
  • Consider who may be left out of conventional instruction (for any number of reasons) and target curriculum design at those students first. Whose voices are centered in the content and learning activities? Who is left out? What role is there for difference? What voices, perspectives, theories do you centre in your teaching? 
Proactive vs. Reactive
  • Be proactive. Consider which curriculum features would be most inclusive rather than addressing accessibility problems as they arise. Have you planned for variation in advance of the course design? Have you brought previous teaching experience forward into the course design? 
Enable Access
  • Designing curriculum with a UDL framework means that we are mindful of enabling access as a first step. Do you regularly check in with students regarding accessibility? Do you have regular conversations with students to gauge access? Have you used resources from IT, Accessibility Services, and Teaching and Learning staff to ensure access in terms of pacing, captioning, and assistive technology?
Support the Development of Expert Learners
  • Expert learners are those who: understand and can acknowledge the ways they best learn, prefer to engage with content and each other, seek help, and persist in the face of challenges. Have you built in ways for students to develop their own goal structure? Have you provided opportunities for students to offer feedback and support each other? Is there a place for students to speak openly and explicitly about cultural experience and cultural similarity and difference? Are we offering proactive access and recognizing difference in your course design?
Providing Flexibility
  • Learning outcomes describe the specific skills and knowledges that students should gain over the course of an activity, assignment, or class. Traditionally, instructors provide one pathway for students to meet outcomes. UDL asks instructors to consider multiple pathways to meet outcomes. 
Explicitly Address Expectations and Structure
  • Courses often have a “hidden curriculum” — implicit knowledges or implicit expectations — that act as a foundation. Think carefully about what you assume students already know and work to make those expectations clear. You can encourage discipline-specific vocabulary development by incorporating a glossary-building activity into the course, where all students define key terms and create their own examples. You can emphasize important ideas by including key vocabulary and main ideas on PowerPoint slides, repeating key points using different words, and/or allowing a pause after introducing a new or major idea, in order to allow time for processing.
Avoid Metaphors and Culturally-specific References
  •  These references may be unknown to students from non-dominant cultures, and may confuse rather than clarify the point you are making.  Similarly, humour may also be misunderstood.

This section adapted Inclusive Pedagogies by Christina Page, Jennifer Hardwick, and Seanna Takacs.  Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License 


Davis, L. P., & Museus, S. D. (2019). What Is deficit thinking? An analysis of conceptualizations of deficit thinking and implications for scholarly research. NCID Currents, 1(1).

Page, C.; Hardwick, J., & Takacs, S. (2021). Inclusive Pedagogies.