Select Definitions

Below are some selected definitions, listed in alphabetical order, for terms relevant to inclusive teaching. For a more comprehensive list of definitions, developed by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), click here.

Asset Perspective
  • Asset perspective is when students’ cultural differences are seen as beneficial to the learning environment, as opposed to a deficit perspective, where cultural differences are perceived as detrimental to the learning environment. (American Society for Engineering Education, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Glossary, 2019. Accessed on 8/13/19, click here)
Classroom Climate
  • “By course climate we mean the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical environments in which our students learn. Climate is determined by a constellation of interacting factors that include faculty-student interaction, the tone instructors set, instances of stereotyping or tokenism, the course demographics, student-student interaction, and the range of perspectives represented in the course content and materials.” (Ambrose et al, 2010, How Learning Works, p. 170)
Cultural Capital
  • The accumulation of knowledge, behaviors, and skills (education, intellect, style of speech, style of dress, etc.) that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital provides social advantage and power to individuals who cultures reflect dominant social norms. (American Society for Engineering Education, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Glossary, 2019. Accessed on 8/13/19, click here)
  • Diversity refers to difference. As such, diversity is a property of groups, not individuals. Although I am a black man in a field where less than 2 percent of research grants are awarded to blacks, I am not diverse. An individual cannot be diverse, but groups of individuals (e.g., the scientific research workforce) can possess diversity. Diversity in science refers to cultivating talent, and promoting the full inclusion of excellence across the social spectrum. This includes people from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented and those from backgrounds that are traditionally well represented.” (Kenneth Gibs Jr., Scientific American, “Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters“, at, Sept 10, 2014)
  • Inclusion: We commit to pursuing deliberate efforts to ensure that our college is a place where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging. We know that by building a critical mass of diverse groups and creating a vibrant climate of inclusiveness, we can more effectively leverage the resources of diversity to advance our collective capabilities. (U-M College of Engineering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan)
  • Diversity is all of the ways in which we are different. (Paraphrased from UC Berkelely Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, 2009)
Educational Equity
  • In education, the term equity refers to the principle of fairness. While it is often used interchangeably with the related principle of equality, equity encompasses a wide variety of educational models, programs, and strategies that may be considered fair, but not necessarily equal. Equity is given every student what they need to succeed, as opposed to giving every student the same. (American Society for Engineering Education, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Glossary 2019. Accessed on 8/13/19, click here)

Visualizing Health Equity: One Size Does Not Fit All Infographic by RWJF on

Growth Mindset
  • Growth Mindset: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, C., 2015, Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’. Education Week.)
  • Fixed Mindset: “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” (Dweck, C., 2015, Carol Dweck Revisits the Growth Mindset’. Education Week.)
Implicit Bias
  • Stereotypes are the belief that most members of a group have some characteristic. Some examples of stereotypes are the belief that women are nurturing or the belief that police officers like donuts. An explicit stereotype is the kind that you deliberately think about and report. An implicit stereotype is one that is relatively inaccessible to conscious awareness and/or control. Even if you say that men and women are equally good at math, it is possible that you associate math more strongly with men without being actively aware of it – [this is an implicit bias you have]. (Retrieved April 26, 2019 from, Project Implicit, Harvard)
  • Inclusion — the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. (UC Berkeley Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, 2009)
Inclusive Teaching
  • Inclusive Teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel welcomed, valued, and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to social identities and seeks to change the way systemic inequities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals’ experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curriculum design. (CRLT Working Defintion)
  • An approach largely advanced by women of color, arguing that classifications such as gender, race, class, and others cannot be examined in isolation from one another; they interact and intersect in individuals’ lives, in society, in social systems, and are mutually constitutive. The interconnected nature of social categorizations create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or advantage. (American Society for Engineering Education, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Glossary, 2019. Accessed on 8/13/19, click here)
  • Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. (Paraphrased from: Sue, D.W. “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Is Subtle Bias Harmless?“, published Oct 5, 2010, on
  • Self-efficacy is one’s belief that they can be successful in a specific task or challenge, and answers the question: “Can I do this?” An individual with high self-efficacy is more likely to adopt and commit to more challenging goals, and an individual with low self-efficacy is more likely to avoid challenges. (American Society for Engineering Education, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Glossary, 2019. Accessed on 8/13/19, click here)
Stereotype Threat
  • Stereotype Threat is being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group. (C.M. Steele, J. Aronson, “Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-Americans”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 69, pp. 797-811, 1995.)