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Inclusive, Culturally Relevant, and Culturally Responsive Teaching


Instructor and student working togetherThis research guide is designed to help instructors find resources about:

  • creating a more culturally responsive curriculum.
  • using inclusive teaching practices.
  • inclusive teaching and learning.

For UA-specific information, including demographics, administration, professional development opportunities or research support, please visit the Interactive Fact Book.

* This Guide has been adapted from Culturally Responsive & Inclusive Curriculum Resources by Portland State University.

Glossary of Key Terms

Cultural competence

"Cultural competence is defined as a set of behaviors, attitudes, policies, and practices that enable and empower a practitioner or organization to provide culturally maximizing service to a culturally complex clientele. Cultural competence goes beyond simply acknowledging cultural diversity or a conglomeration of groups. In practice, culturally competent practitioners and organizations should acknowledge the influence that culture plays in communication and action, recognize the dynamics within cross-cultural relations, enhance their cultural competence through the acquisition of additional knowledge, and amend and adapt existing knowledge and practice with accompanying shifts in cultural competence."

Bowman, S. (2012). Cultural competence. In S. M. Barton-Bellessa (Ed.), Encyclopedia of community corrections (pp. 101-103). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Culturally responsive

"Culturally responsive pedagogy is an approach to teaching that incorporates attributes and characteristics of, as well as knowledge from, students' cultural background into instructional strategies and course content to improve their academic achievement. A primary aim of culturally responsive pedagogy is to create learning environments that allow students to use cultural elements, cultural capital, and other recognizable knowledge from their experiences to learn new content and information to enhance their schooling experience and academic success."

Howard, T. (2012). Culturally responsive pedagogy. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), Encyclopedia of diversity in education (Vol. 1, pp. 550-552). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Inclusive education

"Inclusive education refers to a way of structuring educational services so that all students, regardless of labels or putative disabilities, are educated together in a shared community. Inclusive education is not only an administrative arrangement but also an ideological and philosophical commitment to a vision of schools and societies that are diverse and nonexclusionary. As such, inclusive education can be viewed as a civil rights issue, akin to ending racial segregation in schools. Although inclusive education originally was used specifically to describe the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms, a more comprehensive definition of inclusion can be extended to discuss the ways in which education is provided that recognize, honor, and respond to other demographic differences—race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation, and family configuration—in addition to differences in students' skills and assumed abilities."

Sapon-Shevin, M., & Sapon-Shevin. (2012). Inclusive education. In Encyclopedia of diversity in education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Inclusive excellence

The Association of American Colleges and Universities "calls for higher education to address diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to the well-being of democratic culture. Making excellence inclusive is thus an active process through which colleges and universities achieve excellence in learning, teaching, student development, institutional functioning, and engagement in local and global communities."

Intercultural communication

"Intercultural communication focuses on the study of communication between individuals of different cultural backgrounds. Imagine a Japanese businessman engaged in a negotiation with an American business partner. Their greetings, the actual words they exchange, their use of gestures or eye contact, and the strategies they use throughout the negotiation could each be studied as an instance of intercultural communication."

Allen, M. (2017). The Sage encyclopedia of communication research methods (Vols. 1-4). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Multicultural education

"Multicultural education is an idea, an approach to school reform, and a movement for equity, social justice, and democracy. Specialists within multicultural education emphasize different components and cultural groups. However, a significant degree of consensus exists within the field regarding its major principles, concepts, and goals. A major goal of multicultural education is to restructure schools so that all students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function in an ethnically and racially diverse nation and world. Multicultural education seeks to ensure educational equity for members of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups, and to facilitate their participation as critical and reflective citizens in an inclusive national civic culture."

Banks, J. A., & Ambrosio, J. (2002). Multicultural Education. In J. W. Guthrie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Education (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 1703-1709). New York, NY: Macmillan Reference USA.

Universal design

"Universal design refers to the design of products and environments that are made to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for physical adaptation or specialized design. The objective of universal design is to simplify life for everyone through the creation of products, communications, and built environments that are made more usable for as many people as possible. Universal design thus benefits people of all ages and abilities."

Shade, L. (2003). Universal design. In S. Jones (Ed.), Encyclopedia of new media (pp. 454-455). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

"Universal design for instruction (UDI) is oriented toward the design, development, and implementation of instructional and learning environments, mainly within higher education settings. Instead of a focus on the needs of the individual, UDI considers the needs of all students to reduce any barriers within the instruction and learning processes without changing the instructional content or goals of a given course or curriculum or lowering the standards associated with the college or university."

Davidson-Shivers, G. (2015). Universal design. In J. Spector (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of educational technology (pp. 800-802). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.