Written and curated by Saint Leo Faculty:  Victoria Anyikwa, Ph.D. and Khalilah Caines, LCSW

Principles of Inclusive Teaching and Learning 

Principles of inclusive teaching and learning may vary by source; however, they encompass similar values.

Tanenbaum Pedagogy 

Tanenbaum (2011) identified seven principles for inclusive education which will be briefly described below.  

     1. Teaching All Students

The concepts of multiple intelligences and learning styles suggest that students learn differently, and as educators, we must teach in different ways to meet the diverse needs of our students. In addition to consideration of these theories, faculty should also consider the diverse social identities represented in the classroom.  Social identities can include race and ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual orientation, differing abilities, religion, and intersectionality and are important considerations for ensuring an inclusive classroom (Northwestern University, n.d.). Teaching for all students requires a flexible approach that makes content relevant for our students.  

     2. Exploring Multiple Identities  

Inclusive teaching facilitates the engagement of all students by acknowledging and appreciating diverse student backgrounds to create an environment of acceptance and respect for difference, which can promote student engagement. As students feel accepted and respected, this creates an atmosphere for students to become comfortable engaging with faculty and each other.  

     3. Preventing Prejudice 

As faculty challenge students to expand their worldview and critically examine their own thoughts and assumptions, inclusive teaching encourages students to explore alternative perspectives with curiosity and respect. Inclusive teaching requires faculty to navigate difficult conversations and be prepared to identify and address microaggressions in the classroom.

     4. Promoting social justice 

Inclusive teaching requires faculty to challenge students to develop a worldview that critically examines social injustices. Faculty can utilize these discussions to encourage critical thinking and identify opportunities for student empowerment to promote social justice in their world and beyond. 

     5. Choosing the appropriate material 

Inclusive teaching involves an intentional effort to provide intellectual diversity in all materials through the selection of textbooks, images, and examples that reflect the diversity often found within the student population. As students see content and images that they can connect with, this further helps them connect with course material and the learning process. It also equips students to better serve diverse populations in their professional lives.

     6. Teaching and learning about cultures and religions  

An inclusive teacher welcomes opportunities to learn about diverse traditions and uses diversity to enrich the learning and teaching process. It is important to recognize the rich diversity and experiences reflected in our students and leverage this diversity within the classroom. As educators, we should not be “color blind” but acknowledge differences to enhance our understanding of students and help them understand the world in which we live.  

     7. Adapting and Integrating Lessons Appropriately  

Inclusive teaching helps faculty ensure equitable access to learning. Faculty must consider how their teaching approaches and modalities are accessible to everyone.  

Northwestern lists 8 Principles: 
  1. Consider your and your students’ social identities and their implications for learning.
  2. Establish and communicate clear course standards and expectations. 
  3. Offer varied ways for students to demonstrate their learning and knowledge.  
  4. Communicate sources of support for learning.
  5. Cultivate a welcoming and inclusive course climate.
  6. Consider diverse teaching and learning frameworks and methods. 
  7. Assess your inclusive teaching.
  8. Stay current with inclusive teaching literature and strategies.
Columbia University lists 5 Principles: 
  1. Establish and support a class climate that fosters belonging for all students. 
  2. Set explicit student expectations.
  3. Select course content that recognizes diversity and acknowledges barriers to inclusion.
  4. Design all course elements for accessibility.
  5. Reflect on one’s beliefs about teaching to maximize self-awareness and commitment to inclusion.

More resources on Inclusive Teaching from Columbia University.

References on Principles

Columbia University. Inclusive Teaching and Learning Online. (2022). Center for Teaching and Learning. https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/inclusive-teaching/ 

McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1983). Power in the classroom I: Teacher and student perceptions. Communication Education, 32(2), 175-184. 

Northwestern University. (2022). Principles for Inclusive Teaching. Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. https://www.northwestern.edu/searle/initiatives/diversity-equity-inclusion/inclusive-teaching/index.html  

Tenanbaum. Tenanbaum’s Pedagogy. (2022). Tenanbaum. https://tanenbaum.org/about-us/what-we-do/education/tanenbaums-pedagogy/

View our other Inclusive Teaching resource pages:

What is Inclusive Teaching?
Inclusion Strategies