Lesson 2: Finding & Evaluating Inclusive Course Materials

2.1 Finding Inclusive Course Materials

Inclusive course materials should be curated to align directly with your course learning objectives. To aid authenticity in your teaching, consider being transparent with both any co-instructors and your learners about your value system of being conscious about representation in your course material selection.

In order to find materials with diverse voices and perspectives we suggest:

  1. Using best practices when searching for materials via the library databases we subscribe to at UW-Madison. If you need a refresher, check out the Searching Databases tutorial. Adding descriptive search terms that refer to specific populations, inclusion terminology, etc. can help you find materials that you may not have discovered otherwise
  2. Mining social media platforms to find colleagues and thought leaders within your discipline (or the course’s discipline) to have more exposure to resources shared, authored, or that include different perspectives. Social media can help with discovery of materials outside of mainstream publishing.
  3. Seeking out lists that people may have curated in your discipline that highlights authors or contexts from diverse populations. For example, UW’s Ebling Library has curated a list of resources on the topic of health equity. This may also include mining bibliographies with a diversity mindset when considering authors and titles.

2.2 Source Evaluation with a Social Justice Lens

As information exponentially increases each year, it’s vital that we take the time to critically evaluate the sources we use in our teaching. Christine Pawley’s seminal critique of information literacy tells us that we need to learn and teach our students how information works; “We need to be both explicit about the moral and political commitment to flattening rather than reinforcing current information and literacy hierarchies” [1] As the landscape of information becomes even more complex and traditional norms of publishing have shattered, we have a greater individual responsibility to critically evaluate sources to be used in our courses with social justice in mind.

What is Social Justice?

Social justice is a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members of a space, community, institution, or society are physically and psychologically safe and secure. It’s an analysis of how power, privilege, and oppression impact our experience of our social identities. [2]

Evaluating Sources

Use this tip sheet to evaluate sources with a social justice lens (open tip sheet in a new tab).

Evaluating sources criteria: Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose, Timeliness, and Voice

Reflective Question

To align with the iterative nature of learning on this topic, below is a reflective question to consider how this content applies to your current or future practice.

Which search statement(s) may lead to more sources with diverse representation? Check all that apply.

Correct! Answer A is incorrect since it does not include any search terms that would aid in finding sources with diverse representation.
Incorrect. The answers are B, C, and D. Answer A is incorrect since it does not include any search terms that would aid in finding sources with diverse representation.


[1] https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4309685.pdf

[2] Adams, M et al. (2016). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. New York: Routledge. p. 1.