In addition to outlining the overall structure of your course, a syllabus gives you an opportunity to convey your expectations for inclusivity.
Along with information about texts and topics, the syllabus may also convey your expectations on course interactions and what you want students to know, learn to do, and appreciate by the end of the course. A comprehensive syllabus is important for students to have in order to understand what they need to do in order to succeed.
Share your expectations
Clearly stating learning outcomes, assessment criteria, participation expectations, group work, and office hour information can help all students. Being transparent about these expectations is especially helpful for learners without prior knowledge of the University's expectations. It also can help normalize the University experience for students. Some suggestions to consider incorporating into your syllabi include:
- Be transparent about the structure of your course. Write and explain specific, measurable, active, achievable, relevant, and transparent (SMAART) learning goals for the course. Link these learning goals to course assessments.
- Publish your office hours and encourage students to meet with you at least once during the quarter.
- Share your expectations on student behavior during discussions, group work, and/or lab interactions.
- Explain your assessment criteria, including the weights of assignments and opportunities for improvement.
Make texts accessible
Consider including the ISBN numbers with your textbook titles. This addition will allow students with disabilities to find versions that fit their needs. It also allows students to find lower-cost texts.
Use your syllabus to welcome students
Diversity and disability statements show that you value and respect diversity and create a sense of belonging for underrepresented students. A diversity statement also emphasizes an understanding that difference is a necessary precursor to cultivating an atmosphere of open intellectual exchange and let students understand the climate you hope to achieve.
Appreciation for Diversity
The University of Chicago believes that a culture of rigorous inquiry demands an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, individuals, and ideas inform intellectual exchange and engagement. I concur with this commitment and also believe that we have the highest quality interactions and can creatively solve more problems when we recognize and share our diversity. I thus expect to maintain a productive learning environment based on open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. I view the diversity that students bring to this class as a resource, strength, and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity. Any suggestions for promoting a positive and open environment will be appreciated and given serious consideration.
Students with Disabilities
I recognize that students in this class include people with a wide range of visible and invisible disabilities—cognitive, learning, emotional, psychological, and physical, and I welcome all students of various backgrounds and abilities. If there are circumstances that make our learning environment and activities difficult, please contact Student Disability Services at 773.702.6000, or firstname.lastname@example.org to explore reasonable accommodations.
Students in Need
Graduate students facing challenges securing food or housing who believe this may affect their performance in the course are urged to contact Student Support Services at 773.702.5710 for support. Students in the College may contact the Center for College Student Success at 773.702.1234.