Equity-Minded & Inclusive Practices
To promote the full participation of all students and provide every student with an equitable opportunity to succeed in their courses, we need to be intentional in the design of the learning environment to ensure it feels welcoming, accessible, and inclusive to each of our students.
Instructors who promote equity, culturally sustaining and inclusive learning environments use the following practices in their course design, their syllabi and their teaching.
Examples of how these practices may impact teaching and course design are illustrated in the Faculty Self-Reflection of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT).
For more information related to NEIU's mission, please refer to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI).
Practice Number 1: Welcoming students and creating a caring classroom culture
Use language and tone in syllabus, course materials and communications that makes students feel cared for and valued
Convey sensitivity to students’ entering skill level, notes that aspects of the course may be challenging, and suggests it is acceptable and beneficial for students to seek help, whether or not they are struggling
Convey a willingness to work individually with students who need extra help
Set ground rule for respectful class discussion
Include a class anti-discrimination policy in syllabus
Communicate commitment to talking through racist and discriminatory comments or behavior that arise in class or on campus in syllabus
Challenge stereotypes, prejudices, racism, sexism, and other forms of intolerance, injustice, and oppression that may manifest in the classroom
Create sense of connection and belonging among class participants
Practice Number 2: Demystifying college policies and practices
Include basic information about the course (e.g., description, objectives, instructor contact information and office hours, grading scheme)
Provide information on how and where additional support can be obtained, from the instructor and campus support centers
Demonstrate willingness to help by letting students know how instructor will support them if they have problems
Present course information in clear, plain language, with limited academic jargon
Provide clarity and emphasis on what students need to know to maximize their learning and success in the course
Practice Number 3: Creating Partnership in which faculty and students work together to ensure success
Communicate what is expected of students and learners, and what students can expect from the instructor
Articulate willingness to receive feedback from students about instructor’s teaching practice and provides opportunities for this feedback
Articulate willingness to use a variety of teaching approaches to foster learning and uses a variety of approaches
Articulate respect for students as autonomous, critical, and reflective learners
State how class and course objectives will help students succeed in future academic work, and advance career and life goals
Encourage open and inclusive communications on discussions/discussion boards and in collaborations among students and instructor
Intervene promptly if communication guidelines are not followed
Practice Number 4: Validating students’ ability to be successful
Obtain student input, choice, feedback solicited for assignments, discussion topics, etc.
Offer different types of assignments and forms of assessment that give students multiple ways to demonstrate their learning and strengths
Articulate that students, regardless of their stated intentions, are capable of obtaining their educational goals
Empower students to identify, learn about and address human bias
Practice Number 5: Representing a range of racial/ethnic experiences and backgrounds
Include readings, activities, and assignments that are culturally relevant and inclusive
Include assignments that ask students to draw on their experiential knowledge and/or knowledge from their communities
Include assignments that ask students to investigate real-world problems affecting the communities from which they come
Include readings, materials authored by people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and uses as the basis for discussions and/or assignments
Integrate multiple perspectives on topics throughout the course, not as one add-on module/unit
Include images, websites and other course materials that represent multiple social, racial, ethnic group identities
Use the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them
Practice Number 6: Deconstructing (decolonize) and countering the presentation of ‘whiteness” as the norm
Provide readings, activities, discussions and assignments that ask students to critically examine their assumptions about different racial/ethnic groups, and the privileges or disadvantages they accrue by virtue of their race/ethnicity and connect this inquiry to course content
Provide readings, activities, discussions and assignments that ask students to examine the history and contemporary experiences of people and communities that face discrimination, racism, and marginalization and connect this inquiry to course content
Provide readings, activities, discussions and assignments that ask students to question dominant, racialized norms, as well as inequities in major social institutions (e.g., education, health, law) and connect this inquiry to course content
Practice Number 7: Tailoring instruction to students’ backgrounds, abilities, prior knowledge, experiences and strengths
Gather information about students’ prior knowledge, interests, strengths, language and assets and uses this information to tailor instruction and the learning experience
Gather information about students’ backgrounds and experiences and uses this information to tailor instruction and the learning experience
Identify prerequisite course content as necessary for positioning students for success in the course
Apply principles of Universal Design for Learning to course design and instruction
Make course materials, resources and design accessible to all learners
Practice Number 8: Transforming one’s own pedagogy, curriculum and practice
Examine own biases, explicit and implicit through readings, reflections and affinity group discussions
Develop a knowledge base around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion
Commit to use of culturally inclusive and sustaining pedagogy
Share own work with students and colleagues to address/manage own biases
Adopt anti-racist educational practices by paying attention to discriminatory practices in the curriculum, educational choices, power dynamics and relationships
Center for Urban Education. (2018). Equity-minded inquiry series: Syllabus Review. Los Angelos, CA: Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.
Equity-Minded Worksheet for Instructors of Online Courses. (Winterim 2015). Equity for Online Classes. University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.
Heitner, K L. & Jennings, M. (2016). Culturally responsive teaching knowledge and practices of online faculty. Online Learning (20), p. 54-78.
Del Carmen Salazar, M. (2018). Interrogating teacher evaluation: Unveiling whiteness as the normative center and moving the margins. Journal of Teacher Education, 69 (1): https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487118764347