Inclusive Pedagogy

Georgetown university defines inclusive pedagogy as the following, “Inclusive pedagogy is a method of teaching in which instructors and classmates work together to create a supportive environment that gives each student equal access to learning.”

I have been reflecting this week on what inclusive pedagogy could look like in the classroom I am assisting in now and the potential classroom I may have in the future. In the context of an entomology course, issues of diversity and inclusion aren’t topics that you find in the syllabus, but just becuase it isn’t in the ciriculum doesn’t mean it isn’t seen or felt by the students in the course. It’s also not always a topic that is planned to be discussed.

During the GTA workshop this spring, a speaker from the office of diversity and inclusion talked about how important it is to be an advocate for diversity in the classroom and when working one-on-one with students. He talked about the level of influence you have as a TA and future professor, and how students will look to you to provide guidance and be an advocate. During the conversation, some of the TAs pushed back saying that the course they were teaching didn’t have anything to do with diversity and inclusion, so why did they need to talk about it at all? He responded with the notion that as educators we should consider this part of our role even if the context of the course doesn’t directly relate.

I think some of this boils down to what we view as the role of a instructor. Is the instructor simply someone who conveys a set list of information, or is she someone who helps shape the way students think? For our students sake, I hope we chose the later.

6 thoughts on “Inclusive Pedagogy”

  1. Thanks for your post. I was in the same GTA workshop and I could say that some of the TAs were not aware of some of the topics that the speaker was talking about. I believe the role of the instructor is more than conveying a list of information for sure, and there is a need to let people know about such topics. Thanks

  2. It makes me sad to hear that some TAs think it’s not an issue! It’s ALWAYS an issue! I’ve thought a lot this past week about how in the sciences, we don’t really end up having these tough conversations as often as perhaps someone in liberal arts, like Ali says. However, it doesn’t change the fact that there are lots of issues in our field that need to be talked about. It’s probably not something that an undergraduate female in an entomology class even thinks to consider, but does she know that if she continues on this subject path to someday become a tenured professor at a large school that she has a huge uphill battle ahead of her? Much more uphill than her male classmate? I don’t know a way to begin these conversations in undergrad classes, but it might help if we somehow made students more aware of these things earlier in their careers instead of later.

  3. I hope we choose that latter as well. In fact, I think we have to. How can we as instructors (and future faculty) pretend to meet the needs of a diverse society and many different learning styles if we don’t attend to issues of inclusion? I’m not shocked anymore (I’ve been doing this for a long time), but I am still dismayed by the insistence that there are certain subjects and kinds of learning environments where this isn’t an issue.

  4. That’s interesting wording with the advocate for diversity bit there. How would you recommend advocating without risking othering students in the process? Beyond just a clear statement of values, promoting views equitably, and guiding/ correcting behavior where necessary, it seems a tricky position to advocate rather than defend?

  5. Thanks for the post! I really appreciate your discussion of the TA workshop and advocating for diversity and inclusion in the classroom. I have seen similar resistance in a lot of engineering contexts and it just boggles my mind. These are absolutely conversations that we need to be having, particularly in fields like engineering. But we treat engineering as purely objective. As engineers, we are constantly making decisions and determining what factors are important to consider and what problems are important to solve. Thanks for the post! It definitely resonated with me.

  6. Thanks for the post. Yes, inclusion and diversity subjects are not directly related subjects to some class structures, but professors or TAs can provide that atmosphere to students in every department. Sometimes they can discuss this topic in the class, or sometimes they can create “brave spaces” and students would feel that in the classroom. Because this subject is a part of teaching and should be included in our method somehow.

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