Equity-focused Principles, Strategies & Resources

Course Type:

Inclusive Teaching @ Michigan NotebookCRLT (Center for Research on Learning & Teaching at U-M) defines equity-focused teaching in this way:

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.


Critical Engagement of Difference

Critically engaging difference acknowledges students’ different identities and experiences; leveraging student diversity as an asset for learning. Using an equity-focused lens to think about difference means:

  • Actively learning about the social, political and economic conditions that shape students’ lives and learning.
  • Accounting for those systems and conditions by reconstructing what we consider 'fair' or 'equal' with equity-focused practices.
  • Identifying our teaching practices and institutional norms as contributing to and maintaining disparities; not seeing students’ identities as a problem to be solved or barrier to overcome. Rejecting a deficit model!
  • Additional Equity-focused Teaching Strategies for Critical Engagement of Difference
Structured Interactions

Structured interactions involves developing protocols or processes that support equitable access and contributions to interactive elements of the learning environment – and disrupt patterns that reinforce systemic inequities Using an equity-focused lens to think about structured interactions means:

  • Creating invitations and norms for participation that give students options for engagement
  • Thinking ahead about how you might handle classroom dynamics that perpetuate systemic inequities and have a plan to address them.
  • Deliberately organizing student groups and teams in ways that actively disrupt systems of power and inequity.
  • Additional Equity-focused Teaching Strategies for Structured Interactions
Academic Belonging

Academic Belonging is about cultivating students’ sense of connection to and ability to see themselves in the discipline or profession, your course, or a community of scholars (including your class or campus.) Using an equity-focused lens to think about academic belonging means:

  • Actively learning about and addressing patterns of inequity that impact representation and a sense of belonging in your discipline
  • Paying attention to participation patterns in your classroom and intentionally creating new pathways for students to contribute and engage
  • Developing practices that validate prior knowledge as legitimate and necessary as opposed to additive
  • Additional Equity-focused Teaching Strategies for Academic Belonging

Transparency is clearly communicating with students about expectations and norms; explaining purpose, task, and criteria for learning activities. Using an equity-focused lens to think about transparency means:

  • Acknowledging and addressing the presence of hidden curricula that impact your course and student success
  • Explicitly naming what teaching for equity means for you and creating opportunities for students to identify how they can and will contribute to equity in the classroom
  • Offering students regular opportunities to share their experiences in the classroom and inviting them to provide feedback
  • Additional Equity-focused Teaching Strategies for Transparency

Flexibility means responding and adapting to students’ changing and diverse circumstances; engaging empathetically with student needs, both emerging and persistent; balancing intentional design and commitment to providing accommodations Using an equity-focused lens to think about flexibility means:

  • Being guided by your course learning goals as opposed to ‘tradition’ or ‘teaching habits’ so that you can adapt and shift as needed
  • Providing choices that create clear and equitable pathways for students to engage in the learning environment
  • Being attentive to the changing conditions within the university and the larger society and proactively sharing with students how you will adapt as new circumstances arise
  • Additional Equity-focused Teaching Strategies for Flexibility

Additional Resources

Source URL: https://crlt.umich.edu/equity-focused-teaching/principles-strategies-resources