Inclusive strategies for teaching and learning

An inclusive environment is created by teaching to maximise learning for our diverse student community. Learn about inclusive teaching and learning strategies.

The University environment is an increasingly diverse one incorporating many aspects of a global community. An inclusive environment is created by teaching to maximise learning for the widest possible array of characteristics present within the student cohort. Inclusive teaching and learning strategies are shown to be effective for many students and can enhance communication between staff and students.

Many strategies can be incorporated into current practice and you do not need to be an expert in a student's disability to implement them. Key principles that can assist to define successful inclusion of diversity are awareness, communication, and flexibility.

Universal design

Universal design refers to designing products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or of specialised design.* In education, this means the development of course content, teaching materials and delivery methods to be accessible for and usable by students across the broadest diversity ranges. Inclusive education facilitates the access, participation and success of students. This approach acknowledges that students with disability or other needs may learn differently, but are not less academically capable.

Curricula and course material is considered to be universally designed if:

  • Students can interact with and respond to curricula and materials in multiple ways
  • Students can find meaning in material (and thus motivate themselves) in different ways
  • Web-based course material is accessible to all
  • Information is presented in multiple ways

*Mace, R. (2008) About UD. The Centre for Universal Design. Sourced on 22 August 2018

Inclusive teaching and learning self-reflection

The following self-reflection is aimed at all academic staff and particularly course coordinators. It is based on best practice information from the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training with input from some of our academic and professional staff. If you have ideas on how this self-reflection tool can be further developed, we welcome hearing from you.

Course information and materials

  • Are course materials provided in accessible formats? (e.g. text books are available in accessible electronic format, videos are captioned, web resources are in accessible formats)
  • Do you upload lecture materials and handouts online prior to lectures?
  • Do you provide students with a list of new terms or abbreviations?
  • Do your course texts or readings include content from different cultural or gender perspectives?
  • Do you remind students of the course information throughout the course?

In the course information you provide, are you explicit about:

  • Mandatory course requirements
  • expected learning outcomes
  • assessment requirements including type, format, grade distribution, timeframes
  • curriculum content and delivery modes
  • attendance and/or participation requirements
  • scheduled practical classes, field trips or work experience
  • online or software-specific course components
  • student services that are available
  • how students can communicate with teaching staff.

Course delivery

  • Do you present content in a logical, straightforward manner, using clear accessible language?
  • Do you deliver course content through a variety of means and use different learning activities to cater for different learning preferences?
  • Do you use strategies such as using a microphone, facing students, reading aloud material presented visually, and pacing your delivery, to ensure your presentation can be understood by all?
  • Do you create a learning environment that respects diversity and minimise any power differentials between genders, races, classes and people with disabilities?
  • Do you provide opportunities for students to participate and share their experience, voice, and learning in the classroom?
  • Do you encourage students to work in mixed groups for diversity?


  • Do you provide students with options on how they can be assessed?
  • Do you provide different kinds of assessment?
  • Do you keep to the assessment requirements you have stated in course information?
  • Do you include self-assessment as a component of the course?
  • Do you avoid speed based assessment when this is not an inherent requirement?
  • Do you ensure assessment questions are in clear, plain, non-ambiguous language?
  • If you include group work, do you provide guidance on how students can work effectively with each other?