Principles of inclusive education

‘Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education refers to the ways in which pedagogy, curricula and assessment are designed and delivered to engage students in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It embraces a view of the individual and individual difference as the source of diversity that can enrich the lives and learning of others’.

Christine Hockings (2010)

Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles

Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles underpin the University’s positive stance towards diversity and difference – an approach that anticipates learner variability, recognises diverse strengths and employs multiple ways of engaging with students. These Principles were developed in consultation between faculties and divisions to inform pedagogy, curriculum design and teaching across the University, whether in the Cloud or on campus.

Inclusive Education Principles graphic

Download an alternative format: Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles (DOCX, 14KB).


Download the full document of the Inclusive Education Principles (DOCX, 569KB) / Inclusive Education Principles (PDF, 732KB). This document is intended to inform teaching and learning policy and procedures and be used as a framework for professional development.

Universal Design for Learning: key principles of inclusive teaching practice

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has developed in response to our greater understanding of such diversity wherein the limitations of traditional methods to deliver information, such as textbooks and lectures, have been recognised.

The principles of UDL, which inform our inclusive teaching toolkit, aim to meet the needs of students with diverse language and learning skills through providing multiple ways for students to:

  • gain knowledge via different modes of content delivery—multiple means of representation
  • demonstrate knowledge via different activities and tasks—multiple means of expression and action
  • interact with their teachers, fellow students and study materials—multiple means of engagement.

(Burgstahler 2015)

The value of UDL in higher education is the way in which it provides guidelines for 'developing curricula, selecting materials and creating learning environments that takes into account the wide variability' of university students (UDL On Campus, n.d.).

The UDL Guidelines provide an overview of these principles.  By planning and designing your teaching to target diverse students, and keeping these guidelines in mind, the need for adaptation or retrofitting is minimised.

The following two videos give a simple overview of UDL and how it can be applied to improve student learning experiences:

  1. UDL at a Glance explains the context in which the framework arose, the neuroscience that underpins it and the rationale for applying this approach.
  2. Accessibility and UDL presents Skip Stahl, who discusses how UDL maximises the way we can reach all our students and thus bring accessibility to the forefront of our inclusive teaching practice.
The infusion model of inclusive pedagogy

The infusion model of inclusive pedagogy emphasises the application of inclusive practices to all parts of the curriculum: the intended learning outcomes, learning activities and materials, assessment tasks, course-specific skills and graduate learning outcomes, and inclusive physical and virtual learning environments.

  • Unit, course and graduate learning outcomes are fundamental to student success. These make clear to students the expectations, purpose, skills, capabilities and knowledge required at unit/course completion in readiness to enter employment.
  • Learning activities and materials offer a variety of learning options and content formats that caters to the diversity of student learners.
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and clearly linked to learning outcomes. A variety of assessment tasks provide flexibility within summative and formative assessments.

(Larkin, Nihill and Devlin 2014, pp. 158–162)

Download alternative format: Universal Design for Learning Framework (DOCX 14KB)

Inclusive Pedagogy Framework

Developed by CIRTL INCLUDES at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Inclusive Pedagogy Framework offers a quick and succint guide to core competencies in communication and practice. It provides a just-in-time resource of skills, strategies and specific practices to enhance your inclusive teaching.

Aligning with Deakin policies and procedures

Deakin University policies, procedures, and strategic documents that relate to supporting inclusive practice include:

1Compliant with external legislation, including the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Deakin Curriculum Framework

‘Learning is inclusive: learning experiences and environments are designed to accommodate student diversity, and create equivalent opportunities for academic success for all learners in rich online (cloud-first) and located learning activities and spaces.’

Video: Inclusive Education Principles

Watch the following short video that explains what we mean by inclusive education and how this web site can help you in your teaching practice.

A transcript is available to be downloaded: Inclusive Education Principles (DOCX 13KB)



Burgstahler, S 2015, Universal design of instruction (UDI): definition, principles, guidelines and examples, DO-IT University of Washington, retrieved 4 December 2015.

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) 2011, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines: full-text representation version 2.0, CAST, retrieved 17 December 2015.

Devlin, M, Kift, S, Nelson, K, Smith, L & McKay, J 2012, Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: resources for Australian higher education, Office for Learning and Teaching, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Sydney, retrieved 21 August 2016.

Devlin, M & McKay, J 2017, Facilitating success for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds at regional universities, ResearchGate, retrieved 18 September 2018.

Hockings, C 2010, Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education: a synthesis of research, Higher Education Academy, retrieved 18 January 2016.

Larkin, H, Nihill, C & Devlin, M 2014, 'Inclusive practices in academia and beyond', in The future in learning and teaching in next generation learning spaces: international perspectives on higher education research, Emerald Group Publishing, Bradford, vol. 12, pp. 147 – 71.

UDL On Campus, n.d., UDL in higher ed, CAST, retrieved 11 May 2017.


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