Inclusive Classrooms:  What can I do?

Creating inclusive classrooms is an on-going challenge. Each course is different, and professors need to recreate a positive learning environment anew each semester with different groups of students. Faculty can get better at achieving inclusive classrooms by becoming familiar with some research-based advice, raising their awareness of student perspectives and experiences through investigation and assessment, and by working with their colleagues to consider how diversity and inclusion matter in their fields.

Explore practical suggestions

Learn from colleagues

Many Elon University faculty members have experience in setting up inclusive and engaged classrooms and are trying innovative ways to infuse diversity into their courses, programs, and majors. Talk with them to discover new ideas and share your own. In addition, research is plentiful on diversity and inclusiveness in higher education, and CATL can help point you to useful resources.

Try not to avoid sensitive topics and issues

Many faculty report feeling unprepared to deal with controversial discussions that may arise related to race, sexuality, religion, or other kinds of diversity. Yet such issues offer opportunities for the sort of meaningful learning and critical thinking important to both faculty and students.

Check out suggestions for how to deal with “hot topics.”

Listen to students

Faculty can learn what diverse students have reported about their experiences - including students from both other universities and our own.

We can also ask the students in our own classrooms if they feel fully included or whether they are uncomfortable, apprehensive, or pessimistic about their chances for success. It is important to ask in a manner that preserves students' anonymity and helps them feel safe while being completely honest.

There are many ways to learn from students, including:

  • A short anonymous on-line survey
  • A short anonymous handwritten open-ended question at the end of a class period
  • A CATL-facilitated midterm student focus group - learn more about CATL consulting services
  • A question or two added to the university’s student perceptions of teaching form given at the end of the semester.