Culturally Affirming Pedagogy
What It Is
Gloria Ladson-Billings (2021) defines the term culturally relevant pedagogy as teaching that focuses on advancing student learning, developing cultural competence, and fostering critical consciousness. Culturally affirming teaching practices are research-based concepts and frameworks that originated with a K-12 focus but are beneficial to learners at any level of instruction. Geneva Gay (2018) defined culturally responsive teaching as “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them” (p. 31). These pedagogies focus on student strengths, assets, and communities in teaching and learning.
Why It Matters
In an era of increasing racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, personal narratives and cultural stories serve as vital teaching content and methodology (Gay, 2018). Culturally responsive teaching influences many aspects of learning in higher education settings, including course syllabi, course policies, curricula, instructional practices, and assessment strategies. Culturally relevant pedagogy influences student satisfaction, socialization, retention, and graduation (Hutchinson & McAlister-Shields, 2020).
- Reflect on your own culture. Culturally responsive teaching requires the instructor to examine and critique their beliefs about their students, and consider how these beliefs might affect their instructional behaviors.
- Develop cultural competence and skills refined through ongoing critical reflection on course design and teaching practices. The Center for Research on Learning & Teaching at the University of Michigan offers a teaching strategies reflection tool based on equity-based principles of critical engagement of difference, structured interactions, academic belonging, transparency, and flexibility.
- – Engage: STLI Academy – Inclusive Teaching in Higher Education
- – Explore: William & Mary School of Education Faculty DEI Resources
- – Explore: Supporting W&M’s International Community
- – Explore: SAS Universal Design – Making Your Course Accessible to Everyone
- – Read: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
- – Read: Keeping up with Social Changes in Second Language Acquisition
Cochrane, S. V., Chhabra, M., Jones, M. A., Spragg, D. (2017). Culturally responsive teaching and reflection in higher education: Promising practices from the Cultural Literacy Curriculum Institute. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315283333
Gay, G. (2018). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice (3rd ed.). Teachers College Press.
Hutchison, L., & McAlister-Shields, L. (2020). Culturally responsive teaching: Its application in higher education environments. Education Sciences, 10(5), 124. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10050124
Ladson-Billings, G. (2021). Three decades of culturally relevant, responsive, & sustaining pedagogy: What lies ahead? The Educational Forum, 85(4), 351-354. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131725.2021.1957632
Cite This Resource
Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. (2023, January). Culturally affirming pedagogy [Teaching resource]. https://stli.wm.edu/culturally-affirming-pedagogy/