Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Illustrate concepts with multiple and diverse examples

It is important for women and underrepresented students to see evidence of the presence of others with similar identities in the discipline or in the discipline-specific careers. Women and underrepresented students report feelings of exclusion that negate other inclusive initiatives when the instructors use a generic “he” or address the classroom as if all students were white males (Gibbons and Schnellman, 1984). Multiple examples increase the likelihood of students relating to at least one of them. Take care to include examples that speak to students of all genders and that work across cultures. Using multiple and diverse examples will also help to make the content meaningful to them.

  • Include multiple examples. To help you generate those examples, ask yourself: Would an international student understand this example? Would students from a different socio-economic background relate to this example?
  • Solicit examples from students:
    • “Can you think of similar examples that would illustrate this concept?”
    • “What examples helped you grasp this concept better?”
  • Examine your content for diverse perspectives. 


Gibbons, J. L. and Schnellman, J. (1984). The perception by women and minorities of trivial discriminatory actions in the classroom. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association Conference, Toronto.


GO TO:  Universal Design for Learning  |  Stereotype Threat  |  Imposter Syndrome  |  Culturally Responsive Teaching