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Penn Librarians Teaching Institute


We will examine key pedagogical theories, focusing on constructivism and critical pedagogy, and explore strategies for instruction derived from them.

Access Week 1 slides with detailed notes

Access the scaffolding activity worksheet


Tips for Creating an Inclusive Classroom

Results of the group brainstorm on how to create an inclusive class space:

  1. Be conscious about giving attention to as many students as possible.
  2. Eye contact is important, for all students: "faculty members tend to maintain greater eye contact with White male students, and are more inclined to remember their names (Morey, 2000; Sadker and Sadker, 1994).” Gasman, Marybeth and Julie Vultaggio, "Diverse Student Groups:" , in The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education ed. Malcolm Tight , Ka Ho Mok , Jeroen Huisman and Christopher C. Morphew (Abingdon: Routledge, 13 Apr 2009 )
  3. Use relatable, pop-culture references in examples. 
  4. Use examples from diverse perspectives. These examples can pull from different positions of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and physical ability.
  5. Start a class by giving a little background information about yourself so that students see you as a human being
  6. Don’t assume that everyone has equal access to technology, education, and resources. Plan accordingly.
  7. Create an open and welcoming environment. Ask everyone to offer their pronouns if they are comfortable.
  8. Consider accessibility principles when designing learning materials and activities. Video + captions + transcript; multiple avenues for accessing learning objects (physical handout, online version)
  9. Set up a parking space, e.g. a reserved section of whiteboard, where students can write what they are interested in learning in the session. Reserve time to address the parking lot topics.
  10. Be prepared to go off-script, “fess up” to what you might not know.
  11. Consider subverting the teacher/student power hierarchy. Ask students to lead discussions, help plan activities, set objectives, select course readings and examples.
  12. Do a survey ahead of time to find out what students are most interested in learning
  13. Be interactive, but leave some room for down time
  14. Explicitly identify different ways of participation - raising one’s hand, sending up a slip of paper, or even a head nod.
  15. Don’t put pressure on people who don’t want to share in one standard way
  16. Consider including a Discussion Guidelines slide. The Transitioning at the Workplace slide-deck from the LGBT Center at Penn had a fantastic one. Email Chava Spivak-Birndorf if you would like a copy.
  17. Avoid tokenism, while at the same time encouraging students to speak from their own experiences. Share appropriately your own background experiences when relevant.
  18. While there is no evidence that some people are exclusively “visual learners” or “kinetic learners”, there is evidence that multimodal learning is a beneficial approach in instruction. Consider including opportunities for writing, reading, listening, drawing, creating.

Further Reading on Pedagogical Theory and Practice

The following is feed of the materials in our Penn Librarian Teaching Institute Zotero library with the tag "Pedagogical Theory and Practice."

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