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Inclusive Teaching and Learning – An overview

What is it?

Ways in which pedagogy, curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others​.

Hockings, 2010

Inclusive teaching and learning simply put is effective teaching and learning as it is allows everyone in our teaching space to belong by removing barriers to learning – may those barriers be cognitive, cultural or physical.

Why do we do it?

Simply, inclusive teaching and learning benefits both staff and students.

Going into more detail, we make our teaching inclusive and accessible because we want all our students to thrive and fulfil their academic potential and in some cases we have a legal obligation to support the needs of our diverse learners. However, inclusive teaching and learning doesn’t just benefit students who have a disclosed Disability Action Plan (DAP), embedding inclusive approaches will support all students to succeed and promote opportunities for learning which are effective, efficient, and flexible. Developing inclusive practice will also help to anticipate student needs which will, in turn, reduce the need to make adjustments for individual students.

For example, providing lecture slides prior to a teaching session is a common DAP for students with vision impairment as they may need to read the slides with screen readers or adapt the slide in another manner; however this adjustment can have many more benefits than just the one for the divergent student, such as:

  1. Students who have anxiety would benefit as knowing what to expect in advance can reduce stress.
  2. Students who may experience information overload, or students that may need longer to process new information would benefit as they are now provided extra time to break down and digest the information.
  3. It can improve focus as students can focus more on understanding the content rather that keeping up with note taking.
  4. It can increase engagement as knowing the content in advance can allow students to come prepared with questions and engage more in discussions.
  5. It can also support students who may need more time to understand the language and terms used in the lessons.
  6. It supports students in differentiating and actively taking control of their own learning process as it gives them choice in how and when they engage with the resource.

Rethinking this barrier to learning has now improved the learning experience for many students in your cohort, not just an individual.

In turn, taking time earlier to reflect, remove, reduce and rethink the barriers all your students face can descrease staff’s workload in the long run as students may require less individualised support and can decrease claims of Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs) from students. Increasing access to learning increases participation, progress, student attainment and overall student and staff happiness.

How can you make your teaching more inclusive?

Most teaching staff are probably more inclusive than they think they are. Do you use Menti or another polling system in your lectures to check the understanding of all your students, not just the ones confident enough to raise their hand? Do you include examples that represent more than one gender, cultural and/or sexual orientations’ point of view in your unit? These are just two examples of how staff are making their lessons more inclusive and accessible for individuals and groups. Inclusive teaching is effective teaching, and if you are effectively teaching you are likely to have embedded inclusive practices into your teaching without fully recognising it.

Inclusive teaching and learning isn’t always about removing sections of your teaching, sometimes reducing or rethinking ways to limit the effect of the barrier can be just as or more effective.


Inclusive teaching and learning is not a product but an ongoing process.

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