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Lasallian pedagogy emphasizes the transformative potential of education, particularly but not exclusively for students who might not otherwise have access to such education. The focus is on “meeting students where they are,” but then pushing them beyond the boundaries that they may have set for themselves (or that other educators may have set for them). This process challenges students to achieve more than they might have imagined themselves capable of, while simultaneously “raising the floor” by building in multi-layered support systems through in-class scaffolding, out-of-class mentoring, and extracurricular tutoring. Meeting students where they are supports students who might struggle to adjust to college academics, but is equally necessary for Honors students who need to be pushed beyond their comfort zones and for students in the “murky middle” who are sorting out their strengths, needs, and goals.

The De La Salle Institute also situates Lasallian pedagogy within the broader tradition of critical pedagogy, which emphasizes social justice and community-engaged learning in a manner consistent with the Lasallian heritage. The Institute draws on educational theory and praxis by Paulo Freire, Parker Palmer, bell hooks, Andy Hargreaves, and many others to cultivate transformative knowledge, tools and skills suited to the educational needs of the students entrusted to our care at La Salle and in the broader Philadelphia community.

The De La Salle Institute views faculty and staff development in pedagogy as formation, rather than as training. Formation involves an ongoing process of discovering, experimenting, evaluating, tweaking, discarding when necessary, and discovering anew, always within the dual contexts of your discipline and your students’ changing socio-educational needs.

Just as our students cannot be “inoculated” with a one-time exposure to writing instruction or quantitative literacy, faculty and staff cannot be inoculated with pedagogy. The DLSI aims to provide a wide range of opportunities to foster your pedagogical expertise and to share your hard-won insights with others, whether you are looking for discrete strategies you can implement quickly or are ready for a more sustained commitment to transform your approach to a course or a curriculum. Read on for descriptions of our ongoing series and initiatives. Please feel free to suggest a new series, topic, or reading.