Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally responsive teaching focuses on the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of students and teachers. Culturally responsive teachers strive to teach to and through the strengths of their students. A wide variety of instructional strategies are used to reach diverse students and connect academic learning with students’ home and community lives. The cultural heritage of different ethnic groups is acknowledged as content in the formal curriculum through the incorporation of multicultural information, resources, and materials across the curriculum. Cultural heritage is also understood as a legacy influencing students’ dispositions, attitudes, and approaches to learning (Gay, 2010). Characteristics of culturally responsive teachers include: 1) sociocultural consciousness; 2) affirming attitude toward students from culturally diverse background;, 3) commitment and skills to act as agents of change; 4) constructivist views of knowledge, teaching, and learning; 5) learning about students’ home and community culture, and using these experiences to inform teaching/learning; and 6) using culturally responsive teaching strategies to create an inclusive classroom environment(Villegas, 2002).

Evidence Base for Culturally Responsive Teaching:

Articles and Websites
Villegas, A.M. & Lucas, T. (2002). “Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum.” Journal of Teacher Education, 53 (1) 20-32.

Villegas, A.M. (1991). “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for the 1990’s and Beyond.” ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Trends & Issues Paper.

Zion, Shelley et. al. Module 2: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Practice. 2008: National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt). Facilitator manuals for Academy 1: Understanding Cultural Responsiveness, and Academy 2: Culturally Responsive Classrooms. These excellent research-based training materials are available on the NCCRESt website:

The Equity Alliance at ASU: See especially the ‘learning carousel’ section which provides information on ‘cutting edge research-based practice’ in 19 categories related to student learning.

NAFSA:  Association of International Educators.  See  for a cultural awareness self-reflection tool for use by and with pre-service teachers.  A teacher educator guide to using the tool is also available.

Au, Wayne et. al. (2007). Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Social Justice, Volume I, 2nd edition. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Chapman, Thandeka K. and Nikola Hobbel, eds. (2011). Social Justice Pedagogy Across the Curriculum: the Practice of Freedom. Routledge.

Gay, Geneva (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2nd Edition. New York: Teacher’s College Press.

Ladson-Billings, Gloria (2009). The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children, 2nd Edition. SanFransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schultz, Brian D. (2008). Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom (Teaching for Social Justice). New York: Teachers College Press.