Over the past few years, the topic of inclusive education has been frequently discussed. As diversity in US schools grows, it is becoming a bigger concern for teaching bodies, as the need for diversity becomes more apparent (Lee and Buxton, 2011). It falls on the teachers to provide students with an inclusive and accepting learning environment (Brown and Crippen, 2016). Therefore, the need to determine strategies for developing courses that result in equitable, diverse, and inclusive classrooms arises. This assignment will cover several approaches for ensuring inclusivity, review their benefits and drawbacks, and discuss their implications.
The first approach to be reviewed is universal design for learning (UDL). It is established to be a pedagogical framework that is aimed at creating inclusive classrooms for all students (Super et al., 2020). The main principles of UDL are aimed at motivating students, helping them learn, and assisting with applying what they have learned (Super et al., 2020). An approach that is used with UDL is reflective questioning. It is a method that focuses on awareness of one’s actions and highlights the importance of deliberately reflecting on them (Super et al., 2020). To look further into the usage of UDL and reflective questioning, it is worth reviewing an article on their application. A study from 2020 explored the effectiveness of both approaches by designing questions based on the UDL principles and asking learners and teachers to use these questions for reflective questioning (Super et al., 2020). It has been shown that the combination of these approaches is potentially viable for promoting inclusivity in the learning environment.
Another approach that will be covered is called the Growing Awareness Inventory (GAIn). It is stated to be “a research-grounded, structured observation protocol designed to support the preparation of culturally responsive science and mathematics teachers” (Brown et al., 2016, p. 1). The GAIn puts emphasis on a balanced education of the teachers in order to provide them with the perspective that is necessary for establishing inclusive learning processes (Brown et al., 2016). The implication of this strategy is that it puts the onus on the teachers to promote inclusivity, while the previously reviewed UDL and reflective questioning provided ways to engage both teachers and learners.
In order to test its effectiveness, a study was conducted in 2016. It has been concluded that while teachers displayed higher awareness regarding culturally responsive pedagogy, they often failed to implement these principles when it came to establishing lesson plans and other activities (Brown et al., 2016). Regarding the reasons for this conclusion, it is speculated that there is a lack of an existing framework that would have allowed the teachers to tie their knowledge to their everyday activities. From the study, it can be concluded that in order for GAIn to be improved, it has to be changed in order to be better grounded in the realities of teaching.
Lastly, the socio-political, cross-cultural, and cognitive science-based perspectives will be discussed. An article from 2011 reviews these perspectives extensively and offers several relevant conclusions. Firstly, teachers need to introduce students to the culture of science by highlighting any differences from their native culture to avoid misunderstandings (Lee et al., 2011). Secondly, in order to help students better retain material, teachers need to base the information they provide on the realities of life (Lee et al., 2011). Thirdly, in order to do all the above, teachers should build meaningful and trusting relationships with the students (Lee et al., 2011). It is inferred that the combination of these approaches is helpful for ensuring the classroom meets the criteria for inclusivity.
To conclude, the following approaches have been reviewed: UDL, reflective questioning, the GAIn, as well as sociopolitical, cross-cultural, and cognitive science-based perspectives. While some of them have shown they still need refining, it is apparent that they are rooted in the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Moreover, the strategies covered point out that for the further development of inclusivity in education, it is necessary for educators to base their courses in reality.
Brown, J., & Crippen, K. (2016). The growing awareness inventory: Building capacity for culturally responsive science and mathematics with a structured observation protocol. School Science and Mathematics, 116. 127–138.
Lee, O., & Buxton, C. (2011). Engaging culturally and linguistically diverse students in learning science. Theory into Practice, 50(4), 277–284.
Super, L., Hofmann, A., Leung, C., Ho, M., Harrower, E., Adreak, N., & Manesh, Z. R. (2020). Fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in large, first‐year classes: Using reflective practice questions to promote universal design for learning in ecology and evolution lessons. Ecology and Evolution. Open Access. Wiley.