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.

  • Prejudice against disabled people based on the assumption that they are “less than” their nondisabled peers. (Peterson R. J. (2021). We need to address ableism in science. Molecular biology of the cell, 32(7), 507–510.)
Anti-Deficit/Assets-Based Perspective
  • An anti-deficit/asset-based perspective focuses on understanding the resources that students from minoritized or marginalized backgrounds utilize to overcome challenges and successfully pursue a STEM career instead of focusing on barriers that inhibit success. (Harper, 2010)
  • An anti-deficit/assets-based perspective acknowledges that 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)
Community Cultural Wealth (CCW)
  • CCW identifies six types of cultural assets (i.e. cultural wealth) that Communities of Color possess and use to navigate educational institutions that were not designed with their communities in mind. (Yosso, T. J. 2005. Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8, 69-91.)
  • CCW is grounded in the concepts of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and cultural capital. The six types of cultural wealth are: 
Capital Definition*
Aspirational Ability to maintain hopes and dreams for the future even in the face of real and perceived barriers.
Familial Cultural knowledge nurtured among familia (kin) that carry a sense of community, history, memory, and cultural intuition.
Linguistic The intellectual and social skills attained through communication experiences in more than one language and/or style.
Social Networks of people and community resources.
Resistant Knowledge and skills fostered through oppositional behavior that challenges inequality.
Navigational Refers to skills of maneuvering through social institutions. Historically, this infers the ability to maneuver through institutions not created with Communities of Color in mind. 

*Capital definitions were taken from Yosso, 2005, p. 77-80.

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 whose 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)
  • Cultural capital is acquired through the process of socialization, often through one’s family or through formal schooling. (Bourdieu, P. 1986. The forms of capital. In J. Richardson Ed., Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (pp. 241–258). Westport, CT: Greenwood.)
  • 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 Disenfranchisement
  • To be disenfranchised is to be denied basic rights and privileges. In the case of educational disenfranchisement, those rights and privileges are associated with educational resources (e.g. technology, adequate classroom & lab spaces, highly trained instructional staff), opportunities ( education, internships, study abroad, scholarships, etc.), and outcomes (e.g. graduation rates, employment rates, educational debt, etc.). (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
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)
Equity-focused Teaching (EfT)
  • Equity-focused teaching (EfT) consists of four parts:  Part 1: EfT is a tool that allows instructors to acknowledge and disrupt patterns of educational disenfranchisement that often negatively impact marginalized and minoritized students.Part 2: EfT recognizes that systemic inequities shape all students’ individual and group-based experiences in and outside of the classroom, which impact students’ learning and success.Part 3: EfT involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where students: 
    • Have equal access to learning
    • Feel valued and supported in their learning, 
    • Experience parity in achieving positive course outcomes, and
    • Share responsibility for fostering a positive classroom community

    Part 4: EfT is an ongoing commitment and practice that should develop across the life of a teaching career. This commitment is always in the service of achieving just experiences and outcomes for both students and teachers alike.

    (Adapted from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)

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 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 Definition)
  • 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)
  • The social/cultural process of ignoring, invalidating, or sidelining the concerns and experiences of a particular group or groups of people by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place. Individuals who identify with multiple marginalized groups often experience further marginalization as a result of their intersecting identities. (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
  • 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
Minoritization/ Minoritized
  • A systemic process that promotes the subordination (e.g. less power, representation, or rights) of people deemed as “other” by a dominant group. A person who is minoritized may or may not be in the numerical minority in a given setting, yet they experience mistreatment and face prejudices that negatively impact them as a consequence of minoritization. (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
Parity (with regard to education success)
  • Parity is achieved when differently situated groups begin to experience an equivalence of experience. Parity is based upon responsive actions to ensure all participants have the ability to reach an intended outcome. (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
  • 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)
Social Identity
  • A way of naming the complex interactions between how individuals see/understand/enact themselves and how others see/understand/relate to them with respect to major social categories (such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability status, etc.). (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
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.)
Systemic Inequities
  • A term used to describe manifestations of inequality perpetuated through social, political, and/or economic institutions such as sexism, heterosexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)