Exploding Pedagogy: Incorporating Innovative and Creative Assignments in College Courses to Promote Inclusivity



Gabby Triana

Faculty Mentor(s)

Maya Zeller (English Professional and Creative Writing), Matthew Martinson (Douglas Honors College)


This presentation navigates the website version of my Douglas Honors College capstone project, which explores ways of increasing accessibility and inclusivity in college writing assignments. My critical introduction draws on pedagogical theory and practices to examines how student-centered projects can sometimes stand in for the traditional academic essay assignment, addressing the issue of how scholarly language can be exclusionary to students whose dialects differ from Standard American English (SAE) or who struggle with academic writing for other reasons. I propose that creative and innovative writing projects can offer better assessment and learning measures for students of diverse backgrounds, identities, and learning styles. As a case study, I move to a portfolio of my own creative and hybrid projects–poems, illustrations, a lecture, and an interactive game–from my undergraduate courses, explaining in a précis for each project how I integrate analysis and research. The presentation showcases one such example: an ekphrastic poetry series for which I created the assignment guidelines and rubric. By revisiting comments from my instructors and analyzing my own work, I demonstrate how creative and innovative genres require intentional decisions about using form and course content, thus promoting critical thinking and interdisciplinary learning. Lastly, I invite instructors to consider how they might include more innovative and student-led projects in their courses.

Keywords: Student-Centered Learning, Innovative Pedagogies, Inclusivity, Diversity


View Website: https://explodingpedagogy.com/

6 thoughts on “Exploding Pedagogy: Incorporating Innovative and Creative Assignments in College Courses to Promote Inclusivity”

  1. Gabby,
    What an interesting topic that hadn’t crossed my mind as a college student going through these assignments you talk about. I think you are hitting on all the right points on how we can shift focus to new, more inclusive ways to provide information to students with different backgrounds and dialects. I also liked how organized and formal your presentation was from an audiences perspective.
    Great job!

  2. Great job Gabby!! Yes!! Yes! Yes!
    Oh and I loved the line “skull of beast” what!!!
    Keep pushing!
    As you continue to remove barriers for Marginalized(Poor, First-generation students, Non-traditional, LGBTQ+/BIPOC/ students in your assignments (bravo) you will see there are barriers in all the language as well. Now, some will argue that academic language is part of the presentation? Maybe? Maybe not?
    One could state the language, then make a claim that the “traditional” language is a barrier and it is with intent, not by error, to move away from the language because of the barriers it creates?
    “Precis” I wonder??
    how-to and why-Lol?
    GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Xavier,
      Thank you for your kind words and questions! I had a hard time deciding a format and writing style for this project; ironically, I chose to use what has traditionally been considered “academic language” in hopes of reaching audiences within academia–educators, in particular. Moreover, I hoped that this type of language might be more familiar to people in disciplines outside the humanities, rather than if I wrote a code-meshed, lyric essay.

      I think the critical precis is a good way for students to articulate the purpose of their project and the stylistic choices they made. The precis is similar to a summary or abstract because it overviews the project, but I find it important for students to not only summarize their project but to display their critical thinking and creative choices. I know that metacognitive assignments like this are always helpful for me to reflect on my process as a writer and improve in the future!

      Thank you again for your comment. 🙂

  3. Haley Cottingham


    This is a fantastic presentation, and you do a wonderful job of presenting your argument, addressing counterarguments, and ultimately refuting them. All of your arguments make sense, and it’s interesting to think about how the promotion of diversity has taken off in recent years. Yet, in many ways, the education system seems slow in adapting. We are often taught to encourage and embrace diversity in the very institution that struggles to keep up. What do you think it would look like to implement this academic transition of including more creative writing? What are the smaller steps that would have to first be taken? Who would need to be involved to initiate this change? I love all the conceptual ideas of your presentation, so I’m curious to hear about how you could potentially see this reality playing out.

    1. Haley,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I completely agree–diversity has been highlighted much more in recent years, but the education system in general has always been slow to adapt. I think that it is certainly important to “embrace” and “celebrate” diversity (using quotes since we hear those verbs frequently), but it’s vital to do this through action, in and out of the classroom.

      You bring up some great questions! I think the transition of including more creative writing would begin at the classroom level, with professors. As I discuss in my critical introduction, dialogue is vital in the classroom; at the start of the quarter, professors might consider providing a survey or simply asking students what their interests are in terms of projects that would excite them. I think many students are excited by the idea of creating innovative projects and following their curiosities, so they simply need to be given the opportunity to do so.

      Some students may be new to using creative approaches to analytical assignments, so it’s important to start small. A professor might provide some small, low-stakes exercises or assignments that allow for innovation; perhaps the students read a course text and then respond to it using a creative approach, whether that’s writing a lyric essay, a poem, or recording a short podcast discussing the text. In this case, the assignment would be more focused on content and engagement with the text, rather than smaller elements of writing like grammar. Perhaps toward the end of the quarter, the professor might try assigning larger projects that allow for student agency and creative freedom, but students need to first have some practice in this type of assignment. As I discuss in my project, I think it’s always helpful to use scaffolded assignments and metacognitive activities. Rather than jumping right into a full, creative project, a professor might assign students a brief assignment in which they discuss their plans for the project. Then, perhaps students submit a first draft with a metacognitive statement that discusses their creative choices and what they would like to improve in the next draft.

      I don’t mean to put all the pressure on educators, but I do see them being the ones to initiate this change. I have witnessed many of them, at least ones I have taken classes with, making these changes already. Also, from what I have experienced, students are quick and excited to try new types of learning and creating, so I think this transition can be fairly seamless.

      Thank you again for your questions and for taking the time to watch my presentation!

  4. Allyson Rogan-Klyve

    Great work with this project. It is both a fantastic description of critical pedagogies in addition to a strong analysis of their application.

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