Equity-focused Teaching

Course Type:
All

Our shift toward Equity-focused Teaching

Understanding the distinction between inclusion and equity is the key to creating a classroom environment that produces just outcomes. Here at CRLT, we have made a shift to focus from inclusion because we recognize the need to be more responsive to the impact of systemic inequities on teaching and learning. As scholarship continues to advance in our fields, we have recognized that most well-intentioned inclusion-focused practices do not and will not by themselves disrupt histories of inequity. 

Inclusion focused practices are not necessarily outcomes-focused or attendant to histories of disenfranchisement; they can sometimes obscure power differences in the classroom in the name of ‘inclusion’. While our consultants have always had equity in mind, the recent shift in language and practice grounds our work within a definition that centers relationships of power. Our new focus gives instructors more direct guidance on what equity-focused teaching is intended to do: disrupt systems of privilege and disadvantage, and acknowledge a shared responsibility amongst instructors and students for re-thinking and changing patterns of educational disenfranchisement.

Click to view timeline of equity-focused teaching definition evolution at CRLT.

Defining Equity-focused Teaching

Equity-focused Teaching is a corrective tool that allows instructors to acknowledge and disrupt historical and contemporary patterns of educational disenfranchisement that often negatively impact marginalized and minoritized students. It recognizes that systemic inequities shape all students’ individual and group-based experiences of social identity and produce vastly different relationships of power in and outside of the classroom, which impact students’ learning and success. The corrective work of equity-focused teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where students:

  • Have equal access to learning
  • Feel valued and supported in their learning
  • Experience parity in achieving positive course outcomes
  • Share responsibility for the equitable engagement and treatment of all in the learning community.

Equity-focused teaching is an ongoing commitment and practice that should develop across the life of a teaching career. This commitment is always in the service of achieving just experiences and outcomes for both students and teachers alike.

CRLT provides training opportunities and individual and unit consultation on equitable and inclusive teaching year-round. For information on workshops and other events, please see our upcoming events page. To request a meeting with a CRLT consultant to discuss equitable and inclusive teaching in your course or department, please fill out and submit our contact form.

The Equity-focused Teaching @ Michigan Series (ET@M) is a signature program at CRLT that offers U-M instructors opportunities to learn from experts as well as think together, build skills, and share strategies around the many dimensions of inclusive and equity-focused teaching. Click here to explore more about this annual May event.