Inclusive Teaching

Shari Saunders and Diana Kardia (1997)
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

Inclusive classrooms are classrooms in which instructors and students work together to create and sustain an environment in which everyone feels safe, supported, and encouraged to express her or his views and concerns. In these classrooms, the content is explicitly viewed from the multiple perspectives and varied experiences of a range of groups. Content is presented in a manner that reduces all students' experiences of marginalization and, wherever possible, helps students understand that individuals' experiences, values, and perspectives influence how they construct knowledge in any field or discipline. Instructors in inclusive classrooms use a variety of teaching methods in order to facilitate the academic achievement of all students. Inclusive classrooms are places in which thoughtfulness, mutual respect, and academic excellence are valued and promoted. When graduate student instructors (GSIs) are successful in creating inclusive classrooms, this makes great strides towards realizing the University of Michigan's commitment to teaching and to diversity and excellence in practice.

In an inclusive classroom, instructors attempt to be responsive to students on both an individual and a cultural level. Broadly speaking, the inclusiveness of a classroom will depend upon the kinds of interactions that occur between and among you and the students in the classroom. These interactions are influenced by: Read more »


See also: Information from the Office of the General Counsel; Faculty Handbook (SSD)


To Be Inclusive

  • Include in the course syllabus a statement asking students with disabilities to meet to arrange accommodations.  (Using a standard statement on the syllabus will both protect student privacy and affirm your policy.) 

    Sample Statement endorsed by SACUA

    If you think you need an accommodation for a disability, please let me know at your earliest convenience. Some aspects of this course, the assignments, the in-class activities, and the way the course is usually taught may be modified to facilitate your participation and progress. As soon as you make me aware of your needs, we can work with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) to help us determine appropriate academic accommodations. SSD (734-763-3000; typically recommends accommodations through a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. Any information you provide is private and confidential and will be treated as such.


CRLT's Coordinator of Multicultural Teaching and Learning Services and other professional staff develop and facilitate a variety of customized programs (e.g., workshops, retreats) that address multicultural issues in specific academic contexts. The planning of these programs is typically done in collaboration with faculty and/or graduate students who are members of the college or department that has requested the service. CRLT also provides campus-wide workshops and individual consultations for faculty and GSIs to help them serve the learning needs of UM's diverse student body. These services address multicultural topics such as transforming course content, creating and maintaining inclusive classroom environments, and expanding pedagogical techniques to be more inclusive of different styles of learning and to facilitate the achievement of all students. CRLT also maintains a set of resources (books and articles, in-house publications, videotapes) to support multicultural teaching and learning. Contact CRLT (via e-mail at or via phone at 734-764-0505) for information.

See also: Read more »


Student Teams in the Engineering Classroom and Beyond: Setting up Students for Success by Cynthia J. Finelli, Inger Bergom, and Vilma Mesa, 2011. (pdf)

Teaching for Retention In Science, Engineering, and Math Disciplines: A Guide for Faculty by Marie Kendall Brown, Chad Hershock, Cynthia J. Finelli, & Chris O'Neal, 2009. (pdf)

Instructor Identity: The Impact of Gender and Race on Faculty Experiences with Teaching by Diana B. Kardia and Mary C. Wright, 2004. (pdf) 

Making Accommodations For Students with Disabilities: A Guide for Faculty and Graduate Student Instructors by Crisca Bierwert, 2002. (pdf)

The Effect of Student Diversity on Student Learning at the University of Michigan: Faculty and GSI Perspectives, 1999. A collection of twelve narratives written by UM faculty and graduate student instructors to convey their personal experiences with the complex dynamic of diversity in the University's learning environment. (pdf) Read more »