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Teaching in the Light of Diversity

Recommendations for Holding Classes with Heterogeneous Groups of Students

Joint project of the Area of Quality Assurance in Study and Teaching of the Department of History and Cultural Studies and the Department of Political and Social Sciences

Equal access to education requires
sensitivity and respect for all
members of the university.

Did you notice that the increasing diversity of the groups of students is a challenge for those teaching at the university? That students do not participate actively, attend irregularly or do not perform as agreed?

In view of the demographic development, the new educational situation, increased mobility, changing social settings and concepts like “life-long learning”, the composition of the student body is changing constantly. We will have to come to accept plurality as the standard. This also means that we will always have to continue reflecting our duty to contribute to equality in the educational system.

Diversity is everywhere, also in teaching. The individual biographies of the students have an effect on their studies: sociocultural backgrounds, individual styles and types of learning, gender-specific aspects, various language skills, having to take care of children/relatives or the necessity to finance their studies, etc.

The heterogeneity of the groups of students means that students have their individual qualifications, requirements and expectations. Presumably, this implies a general moment of tension for you as a teacher. On the one hand, all students are to be faced with the same expectations with regard to their performance. On the other, individual backgrounds have to be taken into account. This task requires a transparent “fair inequal treatment”:

Do you reflect, for example, why in some lectures, there are communication problems with and between individual students? That a severe problem becomes obvious only as late as when a student presents a paper or when you receive a written test and that this problem may be due to various features of diversity?

On the following pages, we would like to give you some hints, explanations and didactic recommendations to support you in meeting the challenge of “fair inequal treatment”. Please do not regard our issue as a duty or as an intrusion into your teaching. Instead, we would like to assist you in integrating the diversity of students into your teaching for the benefit of all parties involved.

On the following sites you find:


Please note:

We are pleased to receive your feedback on the "Recommendations for Holding Classes with Heterogeneous Groups of Students". They are meant as a basis for discussion.

Constructive criticism is welcome and will be taken as an opportunity to revise the recommendations. We kindly ask you to send your comments to the following address: qs-diversitaet@fu-berlin.de


Download "Teaching in the Light of Diversity - Recommendations for Holding Classes with Heterogeneous Groups of Students" (pdf)


Dr. Sabine Boomers

Ann Kathrin Nitschke