In-Class Inclusive Teaching


  • Before the first class, review the accessibility of your classroom (see this link from the University of Guelph outlining the characteristics of an accessible classroom:  Accessibility outlines from University of Guelph).
  • Avoid making assumptions about what knowledge and vocabulary students possess (with the exception of knowledge identified as pre-requisite for the course), especially if that knowledge is popular, cultural, or geographical in origin or if it derives from academic preparation prior to university. Explain any culturally-specific references or idioms that you use, and clarify the background knowledge needed to understand a current topic or to complete a learning activity. For example, some instructors develop and distribute a glossary of terms at the beginning of each semester to introduce students to important vocabulary or ideas.
  • Consider providing students with an electronic or paper copy of the outline of the lecture that they can use as an organizing tool for notes or for review.
  • Whenever possible, post materials distributed or referred to in lectures (for example, handouts or diagrams) on the course website or on Quercus.


  • Group activities and labs require special attention to potential physical barriers (as they often require students to move or change position), cognitive barriers (as they normally consist of spontaneous, timed, and verbal interaction), and attitudinal barriers (students may be more or less accustomed to negotiating disagreement and debate in a group).  To run inclusive group activities, you might consider:
  • Assigning groups systematically, rather than asking students to choose their own groups.
  • Identifying smaller tasks that comprise larger assignments so that work can be distributed among students.
  • Making sure that accessible spaces for group work are available (see Accessibility outlines from University of Guelph).


  • Students with different backgrounds and experiences will respond differently to particular pedagogical approaches and instructor-student relationships.  Some students may be more comfortable with an authoritative instructor; others may respond better to an instructor who interacts informally with students.  While inevitably you will never be able to meet the expectations of all students all the time, you can mitigate student frustration or confusion by explaining your approach and pedagogical strategies to them, and how you believe this approach will facilitate their learning.