About Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive Pedagogy Pyramid: Transparent Design, Transformative Experiences, Just RepresentationWhat Is Inclusive Pedagogy?

At its heart, inclusive pedagogy is built on two simple principles:

  • Everyone has a right to equal access to education.
  • All students have a right to feel they belong in their classroom environments.

The Inclusive Pedagogy Series offered by USC Upstate's Office of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy identifies three building blocks of the Inclusive pedagogy pyramid: Transparent Design, Transformative Experiences, and Just Representation. By designing courses that foster growth mindsets, set high expectations for all, and confront bias and assumptions, we can ensure that all our classrooms are inclusive.

Why Use Inclusive Pedagogy?

Inclusive pedagogy results in several improved outcomes both for students and for programs. For students, applying inclusive pedagogy increases academic resilience and improves retention and rates of academic success. In addition, courses designed for inclusive learning achieve greater equity across different demographic categories. This means that grade distributions look the same for all genders, races, ethnicities, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, first-generation/legacy backgrounds, and a range of other backgrounds. 

For instructors, applying principles of inclusive pedagogy can solve the mystery of those persistent problem assignments or questions that have resulted in unpredictable results. By seeking to eliminate invisible barriers to learning, faculty members often find the sticking point that kept students from achieving desired results. In addition, confronting bias and assumptions within disciplinary content and methodologies can reinvigorate and refresh course content and inspire new research and scholarship based on looking at your courses with fresh eyes.

Course Design Considerations

Achieve Inclusive Pedagogy in your course design, by integrating the three building blocks: Transparent Design, Transformative Experiences, and Just Representation. 

Transparent Design

  • Explicitly states directions and expectations
  • Clearly defines assessments and grading policies
  • Makes connections to career and world
  • Provides detailed and constructive feedback on assignments

It looks like...

  • Frames course around a robust syllabus
  • Posts rubrics with assignment instructions
  • Clearly connects content to career and real-world applications
  • Fosters growth through timely and specific feedback 
  • Scaffolds learning experiences
  • Teaches both content and learning skills

Transformative Experiences

  • Balances skill development with personal growth
  • Inspires personal, meaningful connections to content
  • Develops social/personal awareness
  • Engages students in discourse
  • Fosters metacognitive skills

It looks like...

  • Creates space for dialogue
  • Relates skills to actionable, real-world scenarios
  • Requires reflection
  • Involves challenging assumptions
  • Makes opportunities for active collaboration
  • Couples research with learning
  • Allows for diverse perspectives

Just Representation

  • Seamlessly integrates the learning needs of all students
  • Allows for student voice and choice in assessment
  • Engages students in multiple methods of engagement
  • Incorporates diverse perspectives

It looks like...

  • Makes accommodations the norm, not the exception
  • Focuses on inclusion, instead of tolerance
  • Allows for multiple representations and perspectives
  • Fosters a warm class climate
  • Designs for flexibility
  • Emphasizes access 
  • Allows for choice and voice in assignments

Questions? For more information or for permission to use the Inclusive Pedagogy Pyramid in your own programs, contact Dr. Toni DiMella, Director of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy, tdimella@uscupstate.edu.

Tools for Implementing Inclusive Pedagogy