Syllabus and Inclusivity

Image of male and female icons in a rainbow of colors.
Image of male and female icons in a rainbow of colors.

Photo courtesy of www.sheldon-hess.org.

By Lalita Subrahmanyan

I’ve been lately thinking about how our syllabus, which is considered our “legal contract” with our students, demonstrates our teaching philosophy, a component of which is how we think about inclusivity.

Accessibility Statement

Most universities require all faculty to include an accessibility statement in their syllabus. At SCSU our Student Disability Services office provides excellent resources for faculty including sample statements.

Sample Statement

I  really liked the following statement I found from Eastern Michigan University because of how it was personalized by the faculty member to be sensitive to student needs:

“It is my goal that this class be an accessible and welcoming experience for all students, including those with disabilities that may impact learning in this class. If anyone believes the design of this course poses barriers to effectively participating and/or demonstrating learning in this course, please meet with me (with or without a Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodation letter) to discuss reasonable options or adjustments During our discussion, I may suggest the possibility/necessity of your contacting Student Disability Services to talk about academic accommodations. You are welcome to talk to me at any point in the semester about course design concerns, but it is always best if we can talk at least one week prior to the need for any modifications.” Eastern Michigan University.

Accessibility or Inclusiveness?

Is an accessibility statement sufficient to help students feel connected and engaged in the course? Or should we be crafting a statement of our willingness and expectation of inclusiveness? Inclusivity of perspectives, of identities, orientations, opinions, styles, preferences? If so, what might that look like?

I’d like to hear from you!

About the author: Lalita Subrahmanyan is Professor of Education and Director, CETL.

What’s Wrong With Student Participation? (And How Do We Fix it?)

Photo showing empty rows of chairs

Image courtesy of “smokedsalmon” on FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Most of us want students to be engaged in class, but how do you:

  • Define participation?
  • Record and grade it?
  • Provide meaningful feedback on it?

Those are the questions addressed in an article on participation policies, written by Maryellen Weimer (professor emerita at Penn State Berks and editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter). Continue reading