Facebook Pixel Inclusivity and Universal Design | Western Kentucky University

Teaching Effectiveness - Inclusivity and Universal Design

Inclusivity and Universal Design are standards that showcase how course design, assignments, and policies create learning spaces and experiences that provide equitable learning opportunities for all students. As Simonson et al. (2022) discuss, a focus on inclusivity and universal design can create an overall positive learning environment that benefits all students. Bell et al. (2016) describes five dimensions for inclusivity in teaching and learning including: 

  1. Instructor: Increased reflection on the part of the instructor on your own background and beliefs and how these beliefs and experiences might interact and intersect with students’ backgrounds and beliefs.  
  2. Students: Increased awareness of students’ backgrounds and beliefs, and a focus on decreasing alienation and isolation of students, can positively impact students’ academic lives.
  3. Curriculum: Development of curriculum that focuses on multicultural perspectives of course materials and resources, ensuring that diverse voices and perspectives are represented.  
  4. Pedagogy: Increased use of multiple teaching strategies and modalities to meet the needs of students.
  5. Classroom climate/group dynamics: Using the previous four dimensions, this is focused on the creation of a holistic environment where all students feel heard, respectfully engage in classroom discourse, and are provided teaching strategies and resources that are inclusive in nature.   

In terms of using teaching strategies and creating materials that are more inclusive, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework developed to optimize teaching and learning for all.  As described by Cast.org (2024), the guidelines associated with UDL focus on the following three areas: 

  • Engagement: This is focused on strategies for increasing interest and motivation in learning. 
  • Representation: This is focused on presenting content in different ways to meet the needs of all learners. 
  • Action & Expression: This is focused on providing multiple ways for students to show what they have learned.   

As an instructor, this is the standard in which you will demonstrate how you have conceptualized and operationalized elements of inclusivity and accessibility into your course. Also, this standard helps you exemplify the connection of your course to the overall inclusivity goals of your program or major and the mission and strategic plan of the institution. 

  • Course materials:Course materials may include elements such as the syllabus, readings, supplemental materials, assignment prompts, learning activities and learning assessments, and the overall Blackboard course site that demonstrate a focus on inclusivity and UDL.   
  • Course policies: You might highlight policies from your syllabus or course site that address issues of inclusivity such as expectations for classroom discourse, diversity statements, attendance and late work policies,orother statements that specifically address student needs.   
  • Student work with feedback: The feedback you give students on assessments can demonstrate your approach to inclusivity and UDL. How are you tailoring your comments to specifically meet the learning needs of the student? By providing samples of student work with your feedback, you can show how you are helping students grow and develop in your course. 
  • Student feedback:In addition to the SITE questions identified below, you might also consider administering your own student surveys to collect feedback on inclusivity and universal design in the course. For instance, do students find that they are free to express their views constructively? Do students feel as though there are opportunities to show what they have learned in different ways? Review the Additional Resources below for templates and language you might consider utilizing to collect mid—semester student feedback. 
  • Teaching observation data - Teaching Observation Form, WKU CITL: This resource is an example of WKU CITL’s teaching observation form.  You are welcome to use it with your colleagues or you can request a teaching observation by contacting CITL at citl@wku.edu 
  • Teaching observation data – Classroom Teaching Observation Instrument, WKU CITL & Faculty Committee: This resource was compiled by an interdisciplinary team to facilitate peer observations. To facilitate a successful observation, please review the Peer Observation of Teaching Process document for information on how to best utilize the instrument.
  • Teaching philosophy statement: This statement should clearly indicateyour stance on and approach to inclusivity in the classroom.  

The below questions are found on our SITE evaluations at WKU and would align well with your narrative regarding inclusivity and universal design.   

  • #6 My instructor provides constructive feedback.  
  • #9 My instructor treats me fairly with regard to race, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

Some other questions you may consider including in your narrative in support of the evidence you provide, may include the following:  

  • Alignment to Departmental/University Goals: How do the inclusive teaching strategies and materials used in this class align with the inclusivity goals of your department?  How do the inclusive teaching strategies and materials used in this class align with the inclusivity goals of the university?  How do these inclusive strategies and materials realize or fit in with the WKU mission and strategic plan? 
  • Course materials: Why did you select the course materials you did? What influenced your textbook or reading selections? Do you provide multiple ways for students to interact with the material?  How do the assessments and activities reflect the needs of students to show what they learn in multiple ways? 
  • Student feedback: How have you incorporated students’ feedback into your strategies associated with inclusivity and universal design? Have you made changes based on comments or performance? Where can you demonstrate evidence in response to or in support of students’ responses in SITE questions 6 & 9. How can you tie these responses back to your focus on inclusivity and universal design? 
  • Departmental/college norms: Does your department and/or college have specific requirements or norms regarding inclusivity and universal design?   

Some resources that may be useful in documenting teaching effectiveness through course design include: 


Bell, L. A., Goodman, D. J., & Ouellett, M. (2016). Design and facilitation. In M. A. Adams & L. A. Bell (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (pp. 55–93). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis. 

Cast.org (2024). About Universal Design for Learning. https://www.cast.org/impact/universal-design-for-learning-udl 

Simonson, S. R., Earl, B, & Frary, M. (2022). Establishing a framework for assessing teaching effectiveness. College Teaching, 70(2), 164-180. doi: 10.1080/87567555.2021.1909528 


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 5/23/24