Inclusive Syllabus Design
What if we used our syllabi to…
…begin establishing high-quality relationships with our students?
…communicate our commitment to inclusive and equitable teaching and learning?
Beyond laying out the content and structure of a course, a well-designed inclusive syllabus offers a pathway of learning through your course, providing signposts for students about what they will learn and do and what they need to know to succeed in the course.
Overview and Introduction: What can an inclusive syllabus do for you and your students?
These six intersecting principles of an inclusive syllabus offer a scaffolding framework for the (re)design of syllabi grounded in a review and synthesis of relevant literature (Helmer, in press):
Six Principles of Inclusive Syllabus
- Essential Questions
- UDL Connections
- Inclusive Motivating Language
- Supportive Course Policies
- Accessible Design
The six intersecting principles serve as a scaffolding framework for the (re)design of course syllabi through the lens of inclusiveness.
Each of the videos is focused on one these six principles. You will learn why this principle matters, and you will find examples on how to apply that principle as you design an inclusive syllabus. After the videos you will find “Tools” to help you reformat your syllabus and an “Explore” section for further reading
1. A syllabus as a pathway of learning.
2. Using essential questions and big themes to organize your course.
3. Applying Universal Design for Learning in your course.
4. The importance of inclusive language in your syllabus.
5. Designing supportive course policies to help students be successful.
6. Designing an accessible syllabus.
The resources in this section will help you as you (re)design your syllabi.
- Inclusive Syllabus Template (Google Document)
- Sample Inclusive Course Policies and Syllabus Statements (CTL Handout)
- Six Principles of an Inclusive Syllabus Worksheet (CTL Handout)
- Book chapter: Helmer, Kirsten. (2021). Six principles of an inclusive syllabus design. In R. Kumar & B. Refaei (Eds.), Equity and inclusion in higher education : strategies for teaching. University of Cincinnati Press.
- Inclusion by Design: Survey Your Syllabus and Course Design (Worksheet)
- UDL: Evaluating Your Course Syllabus (Rubric)
- Syllabus Rubric: Guide to Assessing the Focus of Syllabi
Take a deeper dive to expand your knowledge and skills about syllabus design.
- Tulane University - Accessible Syllabus
- CAST-UDL On Campus - UDL Syllabus
- How to Create a Syllabus - Advice Guide – The Chronicle of Higher Education
- A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning - Faculty Focus
- An Equity Syllabus
- Diagram Center - Making Images Accessible
- Concept mapping your course
- Sample course concept map for Engineering course (shared with students)
- Example Brokk Toggerson's Physics 132 Online Syllabus-Spring 2020 COVID-19 Edited Version and Brokk Toggerson's Physics 132 Online
- Example inclusive statements for your syllabus (Iowa State)
- Sample syllabi across the disciplines (University of Virginia)
- Suggested Practices for Syllabus Accessibility Statements - Kairos PraxisWiki
Getting students to read the syllabus
- The netiquette solution to teaching the syllabus: Write me an email
- Six strategies for getting students to read the syllabus
- Have students annotate the syllabus