Inclusive Teaching

In accordance with our Jesuit identity and Marquette’s Guiding Values, the Center for Teaching and Learning works to instill the values of inclusive teaching in the work of faculty and instructors.

Inclusive teaching is the intentional use of both course design and teaching strategies to create equity in learning environments. By being inclusive of differences in identity, background, learning styles, and ability, all students can be successful. A range of actions can minimize the potential for exclusion, including syllabus design, assessment methods, instructional strategies and classroom layout.

A commitment to inclusive teaching must be explicit and continuously reviewed. We offer below resources intended to help you create equitable learning environments.

Why should you use inclusive teaching strategies?

"Even though some of us might wish to conceptualize our classrooms as culturally neutral or might choose to ignore the cultural dimensions, students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door, nor can they instantly transcend their current level of development.... Therefore, it is important that the pedagogical strategies we employ in the classroom reflect an understanding of social identity development so that we can anticipate the tensions that might occur in the classroom and be proactive about them” (Ambrose et. al., 2010, p. 169-170).

Benefits of inclusive teaching:

  • You can connect with and engage with a variety of students.
  • You are prepared for “spark moments” or issues that arise when controversial material is discussed.
  • Students connect with course materials that are relevant to them.
  • Students feel comfortable in the classroom environment to voice their ideas/thoughts/questions.
  • Students are more likely to experience success in your course through activities that support their learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds.


Design your course with inclusivity in mind

Incorporating diverse perspectives and opportunities from the beginning can help keep your course consistent and avoid alienating students. Think of which voices have been traditionally absent from your field, and let students know multiple views are welcome.

  • Include content from multiple perspectives
  • Draw from universal design theories and perspectives
  • Draw from the scholarly literature on inclusive teaching

Benefit from the diversity present in your classroom

Research on student learning confirms that all students do not learn in the same way. One of the best ways of finding out how students learn is to ask.

  • Learn about your students at the beginning of the semester

Create a respectful learning environment

Be up front with students about what you expect from them, both in terms of quality and respect for each other. Clarity helps all students, especially those unfamiliar with obscure policies.

  • Provide clear expectations for students’ success and avenues for finding support
  • Establish ground rules for interactions
  • Plan prepare for managing tense moments while maintaining honest dialogue
  • Provide multiple means for students to meet learning objectives

Assess inclusive teaching

Be sure to check in along the way. Include students’ feedback when making decisions.

  • Pay attention to trends in student learning
  • Gather students’ feedback on their learning experience in the course

Reflect to support your growth

A hallmark of inclusive teaching, and Ignatian pedagogy, is reflecting on efforts to continually develop, refine, and improve teaching practice.


  1. Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M. & Lovett, M.C. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.