Saint Louis University

Inclusive Teaching


What is inclusive teaching? Why does it matter?

Reflecting on how students' identities and abilities may influence teaching and learning is often the first step in creating more inclusive classes, especially for those instructors who value equality and social justice in education. In this particular teaching resource, we focus on the following considerations for creating inclusive learning experiences for students at Saint Louis University:

  • Crafting accessible learning environments for students through some of the following pedagogical approaches: Universal Instructional Design, Critical Pedagogy, Ignatian Pedagogy, and Sociocultural Theory
  • Acknowledging how teacher and student identities play a role in teaching and learning, including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability, and veteran status, among others
  • Identifying the role sociocultural theory (Vygotsky) plays in how cultural beliefs and attitudes may influence teaching and learning

This teaching resource is organized around the five elements of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm since the concept and practice of inclusive teaching greatly benefits from considering one's personal, professional, and institutional context, experiences, reflections, actions, and evaluation in creating courses for diverse student audiences.


Promoting social justice at Jesuit learning institutions such as ours is a core mission and value: "Jesuit higher education is guided by a spirituality that seeks justice. Inspired by the tenets of Catholic social teaching and its intellectual and social justice traditions, a Jesuit education places great emphasis on forming ‘women and men for others'" ("Jesuit Higher Education," n.d.). Creating inclusive learning experiences and classrooms is an extension of SLU's overall commitment and work towards improving social justice and educating students to be ‘women and men for others.'

Diversity at SLU:

  • This link includes the University's Diversity and Inclusion Vision Statement, Diversity Defined, University Demographics, and a Diversity Calendar of Events.

Some inclusive pedagogies include:


One's past experiences have an effect on the current learning environment. Research tells us that how people learn new knowledge is connected to previous knowledge, and students' past learning experiences have a bearing on their experience of their current learning environments.

Faculty assumptions about what learning is and what it looks like (particularly in the context of a discipline or field of study) are not always visible to students. In order to create transformative learning environments, it's important to make your own implicit assumptions and beliefs explicit for students, and to help them uncover theirs. This is especially important in the context of highly diverse learning environments, with learners from different cultures and backgrounds, and in the context of notable transitions, such as the transition from high school to college or from college to graduate or professional school.

Uncovering Instructor Identities

Uncovering Student Identities


Many instructors are familiar with the importance reflection plays in transformative teaching and learning. As reflective practitioners teaching in a Jesuit institution, it's especially helpful to regularly consider how classes promote and honor inclusion.

To help you with this reflective process, consider your answers to the following reflective questions below:

  1. Recall [an] incident in which you first became aware of differences. What was your reaction? Were you the focus of attention or were others? How did that affect how you reacted to the situation?
  2. What are the "messages" that you learned about various "minorities" or "majorities" when you were a child? At home? In school? Have your views changed considerably since then? Why or why not?
  3. Recall an experience in which your own difference put you in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the people directly around you. What was that difference? How did it affect you?
  4. How do your memories of differences affect you today? How do they (or might they) affect your teaching?
  5. What scripts do I put upon my students when I first meet them? How do these scripts reflect my values, beliefs, and past experiences?
  6. What do my students choose to emphasize about themselves or hide and why?
  7. What do I assume "engagement" in my class looks like? In what ways might students have to cover - or reverse cover - in order to meet those expectations?
  8. What scripts do my students read about me?
  9. What do I choose to keep private or emphasize about myself in the classroom?

Questions 1-4 come from the article, "Diversity Issues for the Instructor: Identifying Your Own Attitudes", first published by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and then republished with permission on the University of Michigan's CRLT website.

Questions 5-9 come from a Reinert Center blog post written by Katie Beres entitled, "First Impressions: A Reflection on our Snap Judgments of our Students," published on January 25, 2013.


Reflective Podcast Series

 In the fall 2012, Dr. Gina Merys, Associate Director in the Reinert Center, created and produced a podcast series on that year's theme of "Engaging All Learners":

The podcast series includes reflective prompts crafted around the five elements of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm. Some of the topics Dr. Merys explored are as follows:

  • Reflective Review and Planning 
  • Engaging All Learners during Office Hours
  • Learning through Risk Taking 
  • Authentic Projects for Authentic Learning 
  • The Many Faces of Participation
  • Intentional Flexibility 
  • Intercultural Competence in the Classroom


General Teaching Resources

  1. The University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching is an excellent resource for reflecting about how teachers' actions cultivate inclusivity in the multicultural classroom in addition to providing a host of concrete instructional strategies and course planning considerations for designing productive and welcoming learning environments for our students: 
  2. Cornell University's Center for Teaching Excellence offers some great beginning strategies, resources, and references for building inclusive college classrooms. To get started, click here:
  3. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching offers a comprehensive guide for Diversity & Inclusive Teaching, including resources for fostering racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity; gender issues; sexual orientation; disabilities; and much more. Click here for details: 
  4. University of California, Berkeley's Multicultural Education Program curates many excellent resources on creating inclusive college classrooms, including teaching sensitive and controversial topics, creating inclusive student groups, and how team-based learning can promote stronger, healthier classrooms and communities: 
  5. Supporting Student Veterans: The American Council on Education offers a Toolkit for Veteran-Friendly Institutions and the University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) highlights four concrete recommendations to assist anyone in creating veteran-friendly courses

SLU Resources for Fostering Inclusive Teaching & Learning




Institution- and/or program-wide

Recommended Reading

Designing Inclusive Courses at SLU

If you are a faculty member or graduate student interested in talking with someone in the Reinert Center about designing inclusive courses and assignments, click here to request a teaching consultation.

Resources You'd Like to Share?

Do you have resources on inclusivity and accessibility that you would recommend to other instructors at Saint Louis University? Drop us a line at to share those resources and we may include what you recommend on this teaching resource webpage.

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