Feeling like you belong—in a classroom, in a major, at an institution—is one of the most important factors in whether you persist and succeed in college. When students sense that their backgrounds, perspectives and identities are welcomed and valued, in class discussions and in their academic field overall, they engage more, learn more and are more likely to continue their studies.
These kinds of inclusive learning environments don’t just happen, they are intentionally created by faculty who incorporate deliberate, inclusive teaching practices. Inclusive teaching increases learning for students from backgrounds that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education, and, what is more, research has shown that it benefits all students.
But as college classrooms become increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, gender and socio-economic status, it can be challenging to create inclusive, supportive, equitable learning environments for all students.
College completion rates bear witness to this challenge. Despite increased enrollment of students from traditionally underrepresented groups, black and Latinx students still obtain degrees at much lower rates than white and Asian students. The gap in degree completion is even wider in many STEM fields.
How are colleges and universities meeting this challenge?