This page provides considerations and suggestions to make common course elements more inclusive for your instruction.
Welcome your class on the first day through conversation and a typical overview of the syllabus. We recommend providing a similar statement as below to encourage the students to feel comfortable in your class.
- Preferred Name & Preferred Gender Pronouns – Professional courtesy and sensitivity are important regarding individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference so that I can change my records.
Note: Preferred pronouns aren’t just for in class conversation. APA accepts “they” not just he/she details the use of pronouns in academic writing.
- Bias and Equity – Include recommended language on Reporting Educational Equity Concerns through the Report Bias Website.
Whether in class or as an online discussion, students are often prompted to share about themselves. Below, in Appendix A, are some suggested prompts for students that are professional and broadly inclusive:
Many courses require group collaborations such as in class activities or term projects. Consider students who might feel excluded or isolated. How might they feel being placed in a particular group? They might feel isolated by such things as gender, race, socioeconomic status, or sexuality. Students who are not native English speakers may struggle with connecting to others in the course. Things like idioms, homophones, phonemes and even parts of speech can be a conflict for a non-native speaker. When helping groups to form, it’s useful to consider:
- Will you be selecting the members for each group or will you allow the groups to occur organically?
- Encourage group communication among students. While it may have been brought up in the introduction discussion, there is benefit to the group members to spend more time getting to know each other. Consider the following prompts as conversation starters:
- English language proficiency
- Cultural background
- Education background
- Previous group projects
- Ideas of how group roles and projects apply to a real-world job
- Major, year, what they like about their major.
- Time considerations may affect group success. Students may have to meet outside of class to complete group work. Encourage students to create group meeting schedules through discussing:
- Class schedules
- Work schedules
- Extracurricular activities
- Expectations about the time needed for different parts of the project
- Craft an activity for the group to complete along with the group contract asking for individual interests. A common interest can act as a rallying point to support engagement in the work.
Group Scaffolds for Success
Consider possible assignments and supports to help student success through transparency.
- Periodic quick check-ins such as scheduled conversations or surveys can help to assess group health without making it excessive or time-consuming.
- Group contract assignment at the beginning of the semester can help students to consider what is acceptable behavior for a course and agreed-upon strategies for how to navigate potential challenges the group may face.
Resources for Faculty and Students on Inclusion and Diversity Training
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine
- Continuous Quality Improvement Team Recommendations for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health
- LGBTQ+ Information for Faculty and Staff
- Inclusive Teaching and Course Design by Chris Gamrat