Teach So All of Your Students Learn

Instructors often think about their teaching by trying to put themselves in their students’ place, thinking about their own experiences as students. Thinking about teaching and learning from a student perspective is a very good thing, but an instructor’s experiences may not be useful. Student backgrounds, expectations and experiences may be very different from those of the instructor. Therefore, instructors may have mistaken assumptions about students for a number of students in the classroom.

Student diversity on college campuses is increasing. At Duke, of the recent incoming undergraduate classes,

  • half are students of color,
  • 14% are international students,
  • 9% are first generation college students,
  • and half receive financial aid.

How can instructors help these diverse students learn? The strategies to address student diversity are good teaching practices for all students. For ideas to plan a course to help all students be successful, here are some resources:

Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity Many suggestions, both large and small, for including all of your students in your teaching. Every one of the 21 strategies discussed in this article could apply for any subject.

Six impactful teaching practices to improve the academic achievement of underrepresented minority and first generation students  This two page handout from University of Wisconsin contains many suggestions, some very easy to implement, supplemented by an annotated bibliography.

Some Duke faculty have participated in a year-long faculty Teaching for Equity Fellowship. The third year of this program has just started. Check to see which of your colleagues have already participated, and take them out to lunch to discuss teaching.

Here’s a collection of resources on increasing inclusivity from Vanderbilt University.

Strategies to Reduce Stereotype Threat from Stanford University.

More ideas from the Learning Innovation blog

Consider the first day of class as an opportunity to set classroom norms and provide welcome.

Use activities that are structured so that all students benefit. See: Introverts Can Thrive with Group Work

Review your use of Think-Pair-Share to include all students.

More Resources at Duke

Read more about Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

Duke’s Office for Institutional Equity provides services for complaints and concerns as well as training and strategies.

Duke International House offers cross-cultural information and training.

Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity provides programs, events and training sessions.

Duke’s Center for Multicultural Affairs focuses on students and is a good source for multicultural events on campus.

Duke has been chosen as a site for one of 10 new campus centers devoted to racial healing and transformation. At Duke, the center will have an interdisciplinary framework for research and moderated conversations.


Sources of information about Duke students:

2019 https://admissions.duke.edu/images/uploads/process/DukeClass2019Profile.pdf


2021 https://today.duke.edu/2017/08/duke-welcome-more-1740-new-students-campus-tuesday