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Making the classroom more equitable

Northwestern develops inclusive teaching principles and practicum

Northwestern University has announced the creation of inclusive teaching principles and trainings to foster student engagement, participation and learning, and make the classroom more equitable.

The Northwestern Principles of Inclusive Teaching outlines eight principles and their impacts on learning, calling on instructors to consider students’ social identities and their implications for learning, offer varied ways for students to demonstrate their learning and knowledge and to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive course climate, among other principles. The guide provides broad strategies instructors can use to implement the principles in their course preparation and teaching — with examples of how each can be applied. It also includes references to scholarly publications, a glossary and a list of helpful University resources.

“Northwestern’s inclusive teaching principles are rooted in pedagogical research and represent the University’s ongoing commitment to excellence and equity in teaching,” said Provost Kathleen Hagerty.

This summer, Northwestern also will launch the Inclusive Teaching Practicum, a three-week online program for instructors based on the new inclusive teaching principles. The practicum consists of four hours per week of session time, plus another hour each week of asynchronous work. Participants also have the opportunity to consult with an expert for one-on-one advice.

This resource provides essential guidance that applies to classroom instruction, and it also speaks to the ways in which we engage one another in learning and dialogue across a number of other experiences.”

Robin R. Means Coleman
Vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion

Registration is open through Aug. 3 for the first cohort, which runs from Aug. 16-Sept. 2. Additional sessions will take place Oct. 11-29 and Nov. 1-19. University leaders hope the success of last year’s Practicum in Foundations of Online Teaching, which helped more than 700 instructors, will carry over to the Inclusive Teaching Practicum.

The announcement of the inclusive teaching principles is the culmination of more than a year and a half of collaborative work by the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty, the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Equity, which led the initiative. 

Searle Center, AccessibleNU, the Office of Equity, Social Justice Education, University Libraries, Northwestern IT’s Teaching and Learning Technologies, Human Resources, the Inclusive STEM Teaching Project and the Office of the Provost helped develop the practicum.

“This resource provides essential guidance that applies to classroom instruction, and it also speaks to the ways in which we engage one another in learning and dialogue across a number of other experiences,” said Robin R. Means Coleman, vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion.

In an email to instructors, Means Coleman and Hagerty issued an appeal. 

“Creating an inclusive classroom environment is a skill that can be honed and refined only through intentionality and practice,” they wrote. “Please take the time to read Northwestern Principles of Inclusive Teaching, revisit it regularly, and consider signing up for the practicum as we raise the bar on how we serve and prepare our students.”

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