In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Culturally Responsive Pedagogies

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • The Importance of CRP
  • Globalization and CRP
  • Teaching Resources
  • Persisting in the Face of Challenges

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Education Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
Susan C. Faircloth
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 July 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0010


Historically, the academic performance of many culturally and linguistically diverse students has tended to lag behind that of their peers. This has been attributed by some as a failure of the educational system to meet these students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. Increasing diversity within the school-aged population demands that schools respond to the needs and abilities of these students. Central to these efforts is a commitment to the preparation, recruitment, and retention of a teaching force capable of acknowledging and respecting the unique learning abilities and needs of their students. Emerging in the1990s, the term “culturally responsive pedagogies” (CRP), often interchanged with the term “culturally relevant pedagogies,” has been used to describe the knowledge, skills, and dispositions characteristic of teachers who embrace the role of cultural and linguistic diversity within the teaching and learning environment. Teachers who engage in culturally responsive practices view their students’ cultural and linguistic diversity as strengths rather than deficits. Culturally responsive teachers build on their students’, and their families’/communities’ unique strengths as they work to develop effective educational practices for students from diverse backgrounds. Although hailed as a marker of effective teaching for culturally and linguistically diverse students, there is limited large-scale empirical evidence documenting the actual impact of CRP on students’ academic performance, leading some to question the utility of such practices. Given the highly contentious nature of the early-21st-century educational system it is imperative that increased research be conducted to document the impact of CRP on students’ academic experiences and subsequent outcomes.

General Overviews

In Ladson-Billings 1995a, the author, a leading proponent of culturally relevant or responsive pedagogies (CRP), articulated the theoretical underpinnings of CRP. This article is viewed as one of the seminal publications in the field of culturally responsive pedagogies. Since then, Ladson-Billings has continued to refine the theoretical underpinning and argument for the enactment of such teaching practices. This is best noted in Ladson-Billings 1995b, Ladson-Billings 2005 (originally published in 2002), and a decade later in Ladson-Billings 2007 which identified the essential elements of culturally responsive teaching. Although Ladson-Billings has been instrumental in the development and expansion of the field of CRP, it is important to note that a number of other scholars and practitioners have also written on this topic. For example, Morrison, et al. 2008 reviews the literature published since the formal emergence of CRP in the mid-1990s. The authors note both the strengths and limitations of the extant research based on CRPs.

  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 1995a. Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal 47:465–491.

    DOI: 10.3102/00028312032003465

    Represents the author’s attempt to articulate a “theoretical model of culturally relevant pedagogy” (p. 469). She argues that the articulation of such a theory is an ethical and professional imperative for both researchers and teacher educators. This article builds on the author’s work with successful teachers of African American students.

  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 1995b. But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into Practice 34.3: 159–165.

    DOI: 10.1080/00405849509543675

    Identifies three essential characteristics of culturally relevant pedagogy. These include: emphasis on academic success, ability and willingness to support and include students’ culture and cultural knowledge in the classroom, and fostering of critical consciousness (i.e., ongoing critique of societal conditions that serve to promote and sustain inequalities) among students.

  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 2005. Culturally relevant teaching: The key to making multicultural education work. In Research and multi-cultural education: From the margins to the mainstream. Edited by Carl A. Grant, 102–118. Bristol, PA: Falmer.

    Originally published in 2002. Ladson-Billings argues that multicultural education alone is not sufficient to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Instead, she argues that teachers must continue to examine their personal and professional beliefs and practices as they relate to the teaching of diverse students. In doing so, teachers can teach all students more effectively.

  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 2007. Culturally relevant teaching: Theory and practice. In Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. 6th ed. Edited by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks, 221–245. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Identifies three elements of culturally relevant teaching: emphasis on student achievement; cultural competence (i.e., awareness and understanding of the cultural nuances of students); and the teacher’s ability and willingness to engage students in analyzing and responding to social issues that impact them, their communities, and their schools.

  • Morrison, Kristan A., Holly H. Robbins, and Dana Gregory Rose. 2008. Operationalizing culturally relevant pedagogy: A synthesis of classroom-based research. Equity and Excellence in Education 41:433–435.

    DOI: 10.1080/10665680802400006

    Offers a review of the literature (since 1995) published on the implementation of culturally relevant teaching practices. As the authors point out, a limitation of these studies is their focus on homogenous groupings of students within the classroom.

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