Promoting Equity & Inclusion

This document is a work in progress.  It will be updated throughout the semester.

Inclusive Pedagogy

Promoting Equity and Inclusion in a Remote Teaching Environment 1

Dewsbury (2017)2 defines Inclusive Pedagogy as, “a philosophy of teaching that provides equal opportunities for all students to have a successful learning experience”. He goes on to state, “this paradigm places a certain burden of responsibility on institutions and faculty to specifically understand how conventional pedagogies generate inequity, and how a fuller understanding of themselves and the students can better leverage the psychologies needed for an engaging successful learning experience.”

This responsibility is even more profound in remote teaching and learning environments where inequities in cultural and physical capital can have a pronounced effect on students’ ability to equitably access and engage with the course.


Build an inclusive and fair classroom community for all students beginning before you start teaching remotely and throughout the semester. Be accessible and transparent.

  • Provide a set of expectations for the remote learning experience.
    • Be explicit about promoting access and equity for all students.  State this upfront – before you begin remote teaching. Remind students about it often. Stating your commitment to this early detaches it from any individual student or situation.
    • Be clear about hardware/software expectations, online access issues and class participation and assignments. 
    • Provide alternative access options for students with participation constraints, such as:
      • Varied types of disabilities may create needs for accessible digital files and content in order for students to use course materials
        • See Accessibility of Remote Teaching Tools for guidelines assembled by the Disability and Access Services (DAS) Office.
        • Ensure all files, images, videos and other posted content are accessible (i.e., visual content can be clearly translated by a screen-reader and audio content has visual captions).
        • Check whether content is mobile-friendly.
      • Some disabilities may require reasonable accommodations such as extra time to process materials or additional exam time. Students should contact Disability and Access Services
      • Limited access to hardware (computers, scanners, etc); software; and/or stable internet service/adequate bandwidth. 
        • If you plan to synchronously deliver your classes (via Zoom, WebEx, etc.) plan to provide asynchronous access to subject content and resources (text-based course notes & slides, downloadable video, and low-bandwidth communication options).
    • Clearly articulate and communicate your modified learning goals for the subject. Create learning experiences and assignments that support those goals and assessments that measure students’ progress in achieving those goals.
    • Make sure that all students are clear on the relationship and alignment between learning goals and assignments/assessment. 
    • Work to eliminate or expose the “hidden curriculum”. The hidden curriculum is a set of expected-yet-not-explicity-stated behaviors and norms that may be obvious to some students - and unknown to others, e.g., the expectation that students will ask questions in class, attend office-hours, build relationships with faculty, ask about UROP opportunities, etc. For students from socio-economically advantaged backgrounds these behaviors are often second-nature; they are “given”. Students from less socio-economically advantaged backgrounds may not be as fluent in these behaviors. The shift to remote learning may exacerbate discrepancies in students’ knowledge and behaviors and put some students at a disadvantage.
    • Consider alternative ways that students can show what they have learned (use varied assessment types and formats).
  • Establish classroom community and norms.


“See” each of your students & teach the students in the room (Tanner, 2013)

  • Establish supportive interpersonal relationships with your students. 
    • These relationships can be particularly important for students from traditionally under-represented backgrounds. 
  • Provide opportunities for live, synchronous engagement and classroom community building. 
  • Consider integrating culturally-relevant materials. Provide examples of work from experts from a wide-range of backgrounds and identities (See Prof. Cathy Drennan’s Behind the Scenes chemistry videos).
  • Be aware of the impact of stereotype threat on the behavior and experiences of students in your remote classroom.
  • Address microaggressions in discussion boards, chats and other places where students interact.
  • Be aware of variation in students’ capacity to engage in remote learning (see the section above).
  • Talk to your students about what is happening and be aware of how the current situation may be impacting different communities3.
  • In online discussions, e.g. Zoom – ask students to sign in with their chosen name and ask all participants to refer to each other using those names.
  • Pay particular attention to signs that students may be struggling and reach out proactively.


Encourage, demand, and actively manage the participation of each student 

  • Allow students time to think and write before responding to questions or beginning discussions
  • Use or require the “Raise Hand” option in Zoom.
  • Use random calling using popsicle sticks, index cards or some other method to select students to answer questions (and make it clear the selection process is random).
  • Call on all students in sequence to answer a specific question. 
  • Monitor student participation - and adjust your actions accordingly (If appropriate, a TA can be assigned this task).
  • Provide “Wise Feedback” to student responses.
  • Use the “polling” option in Zoom, or other software such as: Formative, Socrative, or Polleverywhere, to allow anonymous responses to multiple-choice questions throughout the class period.
  • Use Think—pair—shares (Zoom breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion)
    • Randomly assign reporters for small groups (use random and varied assignment criteria (e.g. the student with the closest/furthest birthday).
    • Peer-peer discussions can highlight the value of individual students’ ways of knowing.
    • Mix-up students in small groups/breakout rooms (whenever possible, try not to assign only one student from a particular numerically underrepresented group to each small group).
  • Try to collect formative assessment evidence from every student, every class and provide targeted and timely feedback.

1: This page draws heavily on SDSU’s Maintaining Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Learning Environments and Kimberly Tanner’s Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity, CBE—Life Sciences Education, Vol. 12, 322–331, 2013.
2:  Dewsbury, B.M. On faculty development of STEM inclusive teaching practices, FEMS Microbiology Letters, 364, 2017, fnx179.
3: Consider conveying a version of the following message to your students: “We are all in different contexts, different home situations, have different access to resources, and we are all connecting with one another outside of our normal learning environment. These adjustments have likely not been easy for any of us. In addition, we can agree that these changes (which for most of us are extremely disruptive), may impact each of  us in very different ways. We need to acknowledge this upfront. I promise to be mindful and attentive to this as we teach and learn together this semester. If you ever feel that I have lost sight of these challenges, please send me an email, and let me know.”