The Benefits of Inclusion and Diversity in the Classroom | American University (2023)

It’s been a little more than 60 years since Brown vs. Board of Education, one of the most important Supreme Court cases in the history of the United States. The decision made it illegal to segregate public schools on the basis of race. That cornerstone decision of the civil rights movement has played a major role in breaking down racial barriers in the decades since. It has also enabled social scientists to study how diversity in the classroom leads to students’ increased cultural understanding, stronger critical thinking skills and enhanced creativity, which all better prepare them for adulthood.

The National Education Association reports that 2014 was the first year in which the majority of students in American public schools represented racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, the Southern Education Foundation found that in 2013, a full 51 percent of public school children were from low-income families. While student demographics vary greatly across the country, there is no question that cultural respect and inclusion are values that matter greatly in the modern classroom. Those considering enrolling in a Doctorate in Education (EdD) program should seek out one that emphasizes the importance of inclusion and diversity in the classroom, and the benefits they can provide.

Exploring the Benefits of Classroom Diversity and Inclusion

Diverse schools feature differences in ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, reading level, athletic ability, background, gender, personality, and much more. Strong EdD programs teach educators to value the unique aspects of what makes each student different, and helps them embrace those differences in the classroom.

An in-depth research review of dozens of other studies on diversity—conducted by The Century Foundation, a New York-based think tank—found that having different and divergent perspectives can create positive learning outcomes. Those outcomes, explored below, can have benefits that reflect well beyond students’ graduation and can impact their lives going forward.

(Video) Affirming Diversity In The Classroom Why it Matters to Your Students | Nadiyah Herron | TEDxCSUSB

Diversity Improves Cognitive Skills and Critical Thinking

The presence of diversity in the classroom allows students to consider perspectives and opinions beyond those they’ve already formed or were shaped in early life by family and friends. By presenting students with viewpoints far different from their own, it gives them the opportunity to think critically about their own beliefs and examine the world in fresh ways. As noted by an article in Scientific American, exposure to diversity alters the way individuals think by promoting creativity and innovation, as well as decision-making and problem-solving skills. As the article summarizes, “Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not.”

Exposure to Diversity Helps Students Enter Adulthood

When students enter the professional world, they join a vast and diverse workforce. Interacting with people of all different backgrounds and mindsets can present a challenge without prior exposure to diversity, especially at a younger age. Companies are taking note of their employees’ ability to handle diversity with grace and maturity; 96 percent of major employers, according to the Century Foundation, say it is vital that employees are able to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity Prepares Students for Citizenship

As part of the Century Foundation’s research study on diversity, the authors reviewed 27 different studies about the effects of diversity on people’s willingness to interact with and improve their local community—a concept known as civic engagement. The study found that experiences with diversity in college do lead to increased civic engagement. This indicates the more involved citizens are with their government and political landscape, and the more educated they become about government processes, the more informed decisions they can make about how they are governed. As the U.S. Department of Education notes, students’ experiences with diversity help mold them into more engaged citizens.

Diversity Promotes Creativity

At its core, creativity is all about bringing together different ideas and transforming them to make something new, unique, and personal. The more ideas and experiences people are exposed to, the more creative they can be. Indeed, Scientific American cites a study conducted by several research professors who found that groups with racial diversity significantly outperformed groups without diversity in a problem-solving scenario. In professional and nonprofessional situations that call for creativity, it is a wise choice to bring together diverse perspectives.

Discover How to Encourage Inclusivity and Diversity as an Educator

As has been discussed, diversity in the classroom has numerous positive benefits for students, but how can educators ensure their pupils are getting the most out of interacting with their diverse peers? Well-trained educators, like those with an EdD, are equipped with the tools to encourage the exchange of ideas and interpersonal understanding. No matter what level of education, elementary school teachers through college professors can all utilize the following strategies to benefit their classrooms.

(Video) Professor Katherine Phillips on the Benefits of Diversity

Learn about Students’ Cultural Backgrounds

Classroom students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from learning about what makes them diverse. According to the NDT Resource Center, an academic source committed to nondestructive evaluation, educators should also get to know their students and what makes them unique, thereby discovering the viewpoint from which they see the world and their personal learning style. For an educator, understanding cultural diversity in the classroom is a crucial part of being able to anticipate where certain lessons might lead, or any issues that might arise between students of different backgrounds. Educators can establish a tone of inclusion, emphasizing that all perspectives are valuable.

Create a Culturally Responsive Learning Environment

An educator who properly creates a culturally responsive environment will have fostered a classroom where students become respectful and understanding of cultures different from their own. Those students are typically more willing to listen respectfully to different viewpoints, rather than mock, scorn, or fear the unfamiliar. The best way for educators to achieve this, according to The Edvocate, is to teach students that people who do not look the same as them—or who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, follow different religious traditions, speak different languages, or have a different sexual orientation or gender identity—are still just the same as them on the inside.

Allow Students to Learn about Their Community

Learning about one’s own culture is just as important as learning about others when it comes to developing cultural understanding among students. Educators with a strong teaching background such as an EdD can facilitate projects for their students that encourage them to get to know their own history. The NDT Resource Center suggests activities such as visiting community landmarks of importance to their culture, and interviewing important members of their community. Students can then be given the opportunity to share what they discover with their classmates.

Establish a Zero-Indifference Negative Behavior Policy

In recent years, schools have enacted zero-tolerance policies in an attempt to curb bullying, harassment, and intimidation. However, the tide is now shifting toward zero-indifference policies instead, according to GLSEN. Zero-indifference is an alternative that promotes safety in schools by consistently and firmly addressing disrespectful behavior. Unlike zero-tolerance, in which a first offense results in punishments as harsh as suspension or expulsion, zero-indifference allows the teacher to use culturally insensitive moments as opportunities for learning and understanding. The project of the Southern Poverty Law Center recommends zero-indifference policies when it comes to addressing bullying and harassment, as does the Anti-Defamation League; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Respect for All Project; and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network—according to research by Jacqueline Leung on the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs.

Learn How to Foster Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

Teachers who wish to be at the forefront of their profession should have a strong foundation in understanding diversity and how to create an environment of inclusion in the classroom. To accomplish this, educators would do well to explore an award-winning education program, such as American University’s Online Doctorate of Education. The curriculum is designed to provide educators with the tools and understanding to adapt to any classroom, regardless of its diverse student makeup—and to ultimately foster a wider appreciation of our human differences.

(Video) The importance of DEI work in schools and communities | Nathaniel Rouse | TEDxBarringtonAreaLibrary


What are the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the classroom? ›

Students who learn about different cultures during their education feel more comfortable and safe with these differences later in life. This allows them to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.

What are the benefits of having a diverse set of students at a university? ›

Advantages of Cultural Diversity in Universities
  • Diversity Promotes Creative Thinking. Studying among people from different backgrounds exposes you to multiple cultural perspectives. ...
  • Diversity Produces Better Results. ...
  • Diversity Promotes Self-Reflection.
Nov 10, 2022

How diverse is your classroom how can diversity benefit your class? ›

Studies have shown that having diverse classrooms help develop tolerance and a greater sense of security when in environments with other foreign cultures present. It also helps students learn about other languages and cultures, encouraging them to be interculturally sensitive.

What are major benefits of inclusive education? ›

It fosters a culture of respect and belonging. It also provides the opportunity to learn about and accept individual differences. It provides all children with opportunities to develop friendships with one another. Friendships provide role models and opportunities for growth.

What are the benefits of equality diversity and inclusion? ›

A workplace encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion can help:
  • make it more successful.
  • keep employees happy and motivated.
  • prevent serious or legal issues arising, such as bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • to better serve a diverse range of customers.
  • improve ideas and problem-solving.

How do universities promote diversity and inclusion? ›

6 Ways to Promote Inclusivity in Higher Education
  1. Rethink policies. It's time to challenge institutional norms. ...
  2. Ensure inclusivity is embedded in your institutional structures. ...
  3. Use inclusive language. ...
  4. Create goals and track progress. ...
  5. Help campus leaders understand their role. ...
  6. Educate campus leaders about inclusion.
May 18, 2022

What does diversity in university mean? ›

Diversity can include race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, geographical representation, political beliefs and more. However, studies also show race, gender and sexual orientation are nearly always the top three concerns for those working in the field. But inclusion is equally important.

What is the importance of inclusivity in the classroom? ›

The goal of an inclusive classroom is to provide all students with an appropriate learning environment to allow each the opportunity to reach their potential. Every student can reach their full potential when they are given the opportunity, resources and teaching that suits their needs.

How important do you think diversity should be on a university campus? ›

Why is diversity important in college? Learning alongside people from different backgrounds and cultures prepares students for the real world. Moreover, diversity in college can become a source of strength and joy that enriches a student's life well beyond graduation.

How do you promote inclusion in the classroom? ›

  1. Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  2. Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  3. Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  4. Respect Diverse People. ...
  5. Respect Diverse Talents.

What is the importance of diverse classroom? ›

Exposure to a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and cultural backgrounds naturally encourages students to develop open-mindedness later in life. This allows them to be more receptive to new ideas and to gain a deeper understanding of a subject by considering various viewpoints.

What is most important in an inclusive classroom? ›

Providing an individual education plan (IEP) is most important in an inclusive classroom. In an inclusive classroom, students with a diverse background, varied skills, diverse abilities, and challenges are grouped in a single classroom.

What is the most important aim of inclusive education in the classroom? ›

Inclusive education is the most effective way to give all children a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to thrive. Inclusive education means all children in the same classrooms, in the same schools.

What is the impact of inclusion in education? ›

It fosters a culture of respect and belonging. It also provides the opportunity to learn about and accept individual differences. It provides all children with opportunities to develop friendships with one another, which provide role models and opportunities for growth.

What are three benefits of inclusion? ›

Increased social network. More respect for others. Shared learning opportunities. Increased safety by reducing isolation.

What are the two benefits of inclusive education? ›

What are the two benefits of inclusive education.
  • Increase social skills.
  • Increase motor skills.
  • Increase friend skills.

What does inclusion look like in the classroom? ›

An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom regardless of identity, learning preferences, or education.

What are the four benefits to inclusion? ›

Some of the benefits of inclusion for children with (or without) disabilities are friendship skills, peer models, problem solving skills, positive self-image, and respect for others.

What are the key benefits of diversity? ›

Increased creativity: As various cultures and backgrounds work together, the opportunity for increased creativity exists. This is because there are more people with differing perspectives and solutions to problems, allowing for a greater chance of a workable solution to a workplace problem.

How do you embrace diversity at university? ›

What Students Can Do
  1. Acknowledge your own uniqueness, for you are diverse, too. ...
  2. Consider your own (possibly unconscious) stereotypes. ...
  3. Do not try to ignore differences among people. ...
  4. Don't apply any group generalizations to individuals. ...
  5. Take advantage of campus opportunities to increase your cultural awareness.

How do you ensure diversity and equality in your teaching at university? ›

How can we promote equality and diversity?
  1. Treating all staff and students fairly.
  2. Creating an inclusive culture for all staff and students.
  3. Ensuring equal access to opportunities to enable students to fully participate in the learning process.
  4. Enabling all staff and students to develop to their full potential.
Jun 14, 2022

How to promote diversity equity and inclusion in the classroom? ›

Seven effective ways to promote equity in the classroom
  1. Reflect on your own beliefs. ...
  2. Reduce race and gender barriers to learning. ...
  3. Don't ask students of color to be “experts” on their race. ...
  4. Diversify your curriculum. ...
  5. Hold every student to high expectations. ...
  6. Avoid assumptions about students' backgrounds.
Mar 19, 2020

What does diversity and inclusion mean at a university? ›

The goal of diversity and inclusion is to foster an environment in which all members of the GW community are treated equitably, contribute fully to the university's mission, and embrace and model GW values.

What are universities looking for in a diversity statement? ›

A diversity statement is a personal essay that is a depiction of your past experiences and explains how these experiences have contributed to your personal and professional growth. It allows the applicant the opportunity to explain to a search committee the distinct qualities and commitment s/he can bring to the table.

What does diversity equity and inclusion mean university? ›

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals. DEI encompasses people of different ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, cultures and sexual orientations.

What are the effects of inclusion on all students in the classroom? ›

Additionally, students without disabilities have socially benefited from being in inclusive classrooms with students with disabilities. Mainly, the social effects of inclusion are reduction of fear, hostility, prejudice, and discrimination as well as increase of tolerance, acceptance, and understanding.

Why is it important to address diversity in education? ›

Educating children in diversity increases creativity, encourages open-mindedness and provides a wealth of opportunities. It lays down the foundations for an inclusive society that embraces differences.

How do you best meet diverse learning needs in the classroom? ›

What Are 5 Strategies for Teaching Diverse Learners?
  1. Practical Accommodations. Individualized Education Programs and 504 plans ensure that educators meet the needs of students with disabilities. ...
  2. Increase Accessibility. ...
  3. Culturally Responsive Teaching. ...
  4. Project-Based Learning. ...
  5. Formative Assessment.
Sep 29, 2022

What are qualities of an effective inclusive classroom? ›

There are five key behaviours for effective teaching: lesson clarity, instructional variety, teacher task orientation, engagement in the learning process and student success rate, all of which are the teachers' responsibility.

Are inclusive classrooms beneficial to all students? ›

Studies show that inclusion is beneficial for all students — not just for those who get special education services. In fact, research shows that inclusive education has positive short-term and long-term effects for all students. Kids with special education needs who are in inclusive classes are absent less often.

Is it important for universities to recruit a diverse student population? ›

Diversity is immensely valuable to any higher education institution, but not all universities and colleges are successful or even aware of how to recruit a diverse student population.

Are there any advantages to being diverse? ›

Diverse cultural perspectives can inspire creativity and drive innovation. Local market knowledge and insight makes a business more competitive and profitable. Cultural sensitivity, insight, and local knowledge means higher quality, targeted marketing.

What are the benefits of being diverse? ›

Better opportunities for creativity and problem-solving

Diversity increases innovation, creativity and strategic thinking because teams of people who come from different backgrounds can draw upon their unique experiences and a wider range of knowledge to spark new, innovative ideas.

Why is it important to promote diversity in schools? ›

Diversity fosters empathy in people

Simply put, promoting awareness and creating personal connections with people from all different backgrounds gives students a chance to empathize with and relate to people who may not be like themselves in one way or another.

How do you attract diverse students to college? ›

Four Ways to Attract Diverse Adult Students
  1. Bring Your Programs to Adult Students.
  2. Communicate That You Value All Types of Diversity.
  3. Give Your Diverse Adult Students a Platform for Sharing.
  4. Your Faculty and Staff Should Reflect Your Commitment to Diversity.


1. The power of inclusive education | Ilene Schwartz | TEDxEastsidePrep
(TEDx Talks)
2. On Diversity: Access Ain’t Inclusion | Anthony Jack | TEDxCambridge
(TEDx Talks)
3. Diversity and Inclusion Interview Questions and Answers
(HR University)
4. The Difference between Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
(bhasin consulting inc.)
5. How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace | Janet Stovall | TED
6. What Does Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity Look Like in a Classroom
(Amino Academy)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 06/08/2023

Views: 5846

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.