Culturally Responsive Teaching

Updated: May 31

“Our brains are wired to make connections”

~ Understood.org, 2021


It is important for educators to integrate Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) into course design and teaching across all learning formats to support success all students. CRT is a research- and student -centered approach to course design and teaching that acknowledges students’ diverse backgrounds, cultures, languages, and life experiences as strengths to be nurtured and relevant to what students learn in educational environments and their lives.

College students at graduation taking a selfie

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. Geneva Gay, and Zaretta Hammond have and continue to make transformational contributions to education through their work with CRT. Ladson-Billings, a pioneer in cultural inclusion, is recognized for introducing the concept of Culturally Relevant Teaching. Ladson-Billings defined Culturally Responsive Teaching in The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, as "a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes" (1994, p. 382). In the article “Teaching To and Through Cultural Diversity” Gay (2013) examines CRT through her own writings, including publications from 1972 and 2010. In 1972, Gay stated, “Education must be specifically designed to perpetuate and enrich the culture of the people and equip them with the tools to become functional participants in society, if they so choose” (2013, p. 50). In 2010, Gay defined CRT as “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of references, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them” (2013, pp. 49-50). In 2015, Hammond published Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain. In this book, Hammond states, “A systemic approach to culturally responsive teaching is the perfect catalyst to stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity” (p. 15) and that culturally responsive pedagogy has the ability to help students build intellective capacity and intellective competence” (p. 16). Hammond’s book Ready for Rigor Framework, introduces four practice areas that include: Awareness, Learning Partnerships, Information Procession, and Community Building. As shared by Hammond (2015), “When the tools and strategies of each area are blended together, they create the social, emotional, and cognitive conditions that allow students to more actively engage and take ownership of their learning process” (p. 18).


CRT is transformational for learners. There are many resources available online that provide strategies to support CRT. You are encouraged to explore CRT and find ways to integrate practices into your as part your course design and teaching.


CRT Resources:

In designing new courses, revising current ones, or pivoting across formats, the question to ask is: What’s in your course? Learn more about how INTERACT123 can support your work with Culturally Responsive Teaching. Dr. Kristen Betts