Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

April 3, 2024

Achieving the Dream

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a framework that is inclusive of culturally responsive and relevant teaching as well as culturally affirming and sustaining instruction that validates and engages students’ cultural identities. These instructional strategies and practices guide the implementation of culturally responsive teaching and learning in educational spaces.  


  • Center students’ cultural experiences while leveraging their cultural knowledge as a cognitive scaffold  
  • Provide meaningful, relevant, and effective instructional practices that best serve student learning  
  • Use inclusive strategies that advance the academic success of students  

Strategy Features

Create Inclusive, Supportive, and Culturally Responsive Learning Spaces

Educators and instructional designers can foster inclusive, supportive, and culturally responsive learning spaces by recognizing students’ diverse cultural referents and lived experiences as assets to the learning environment. 

Foster Learning Environments That Validate Cultural Identity and Experiences

Effective and validating learning experiences value the whole student while acknowledging the diverse academic and personal backgrounds students bring to the classroom — including historical and contemporary impacts of systemic racism. 

Assess and Activate Culturally Bound Prior Knowledge

Connect new information with students’ existing knowledge and let them draw on their own experiences and understanding. Create assignments that respond to students’ lived experiences and use assessment results to inform content delivery. 

Empower Students by Using Cultural Referents

Using cultural referents from students’ lived experiences to inform course content, curriculum, and teaching practices can empower students to engage more deeply in their learning experiences — intellectually, socially, and emotionally. 

Implementation Tips


Affirming students’ culture and knowledge — from traditions and language to communication and learning styles — can transform the learning experience to be more effective, inclusive, and meaningful. 

Teaching the Whole Student

Get to know students and validate their cultures while creating environments focused on student-faculty and peer-to-peer relationships. Center student voice through student feedback and input. 

Activate and Assess Prior Knowledge

Use formative, low-stakes assessments to understand what students know and what prior experience they bring into the learning environment with the help of digital tools such as graphic organizers, concept maps, and learning grids. 

Leveraging Students’ Culture to Advance Learning

Assign research projects centering students’ identities and cultures and provide opportunities to engage in co-construction of knowledge in meaningful ways. Present lessons in multiple modalities to support student learning. 

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