As Princeton increases access to higher education for underrepresented groups, it is critical to understand that creating an inclusive community doesn’t end with recruiting a diverse student body. Beyond getting students in the door, we have an obligation to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed. We invite you to (re)design your course to promote equity and inclusion, so that all students feel welcome and empowered to learn. We have divided our advice for (re)designing your course into four stages: rethinking your course goals, planning for equity and inclusion, reimagining your course content, and cultivating an equitable and inclusive classroom. For each stage, we identify strategies that scholars and other faculty have found useful. While we don’t intend these suggestions to be prescriptive, we hope they will guide you as you imagine what an equitable and inclusive pedagogy will look like in your course. Rethinking Your Course Goals Rethinking Your Course Goals Inclusive pedagogy is more than just a set of “best practices.” Designing an equitable and inclusive classroom begins with examining your course goals. A first step is making sure that your course goals are explicit in describing what skills and content you hope students will learn, that they describe the motivation (or why) of the goal, and that you state them directly in your syllabus: clear course goals can clarify to students what they are learning in your course and why, which can facilitate students’ motivation and their ability to focus their energies on learning the skills and content you intend to teach. A second possibility is to design course goals that are explicitly focused on equity and inclusion. These may concern the content or curriculum of your course. For instance, you may focus on diversifying your curriculum (an example of such a goal might be: to help students understand the breadth of authors writing in a time or place or to understand diverse perspectives on a sociological issue). You may wish to help students recognize the lack of diversity or gaps in your field that need to be filled, or to see the broader, seldom-discussed origins of a particular idea in your field and the voices and experiences that have been elided by the received historical narrative. Your course goals also may involve helping students to develop key skills concerning self-reflecting on difference, thinking critically about issues of oppression and resistance, or creating a sense of belonging in order to increase feelings of connectedness, wellbeing, and also learning amongst students (which have been closely linked in research). Yet another kind of course goal may focus on developing fully accessible materials for your course, for instance, to remediate the PDFs in your course or to make sure that materials are all electronically accessible. There are a myriad of options for developing equitable teaching goals. Whatever approach you take, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in your course goals communicates the centrality of these values to your students and creates a powerful opportunity for you and your students to collaboratively and individually reflect on these issues. Action Steps: Use this Inclusion by Design worksheet to help you to assess various aspects of your syllabus for equity and inclusion. Reflect on the existing goals for your course. What are the key learning goals you hope your students will achieve over the course of the semester? Reflect on what aspect of equitable and inclusive teaching you would like to address, given both our students and your subject matter. For instance, are there curricular changes that would be useful (such as offering a more diverse array of voices)? Or are there accessibility issues with the material that you would like to address? Would it be most useful to take strides to create a sense of community and belonging amongst your students? Is there an assignment you can add that encourages students to make connections between course materials and pressing contemporary issues? State your goals clearly and directly on your syllabus, and talk through your motivations and expectations with your students on the first day of class. As you plan your assessments, remind yourself of your broader course goals and consider how your assessments are helping you to evaluate whether your students are mastering them in the ways you had hoped. Key Resources: Teel, Karen. “Getting Out of the Left Lane: The Possibility of White Antiracist Pedagogy.” Teaching Theology and Religion, vol. 17, no. 1, 2014, pp. 3-26. Addy, Tracie Marcell, et al. What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching. Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2021: pp. 47-72. Planning for Equity and Inclusion Planning for Equity and Inclusion There are many ways your equitable and inclusive course goal(s) can inform your course design process, from small changes that require minimal effort but have an outsized impact to broader-scale shifts in your course structure. We recommend that in particular you look carefully and critically at your course syllabus, which acts as your students’ initial introduction both to your class policies and to how they will access and interact with your course material. For this reason, we recommend that you write or revise your syllabus to be as explicit, clear, and welcoming as possible: orient your students to the questions of the course, explain your learning goals and how you will assess them, and describe your course policies, making particular efforts to explain what you mean by broad terms such as “course participation” or “seminar engagement.” It is easy to forget that your students may not inherently know what you mean by “participation” or “office hours,” both because they may not be familiar with conventions at Princeton or in higher education and also because instructors approach participation in different ways. Make sure to clarify any course logistics and be explicit about resources available to your students: bureaucratic and organizational hassle has been shown to negatively impact the sense of belonging (which in turn is correlated closely with performance) especially of underrepresented students. A final place of focus is on making your content accessible and offering multiple ways for your students to engage with your course material. As you revise your syllabus you might ask yourself: are your learning goals, assessments, and course policies explicit, aligned, and welcoming–do they explain any terms or implicit expectations with which students may not be familiar? Do they approach students from where they are, given the level of the course and also prior knowledge or skills your students may or may not have? Is your course content accessible? How will students interact with your course material? Action Steps: Make explicit on your syllabus that your course policies are inclusive, in alignment with University policies. See our Syllabus Resources for Faculty, in which we offer a précis of some important university policies and sample text that you may use or adapt for your own syllabus. Review the University's Discrimination and Harassment FAQs and index the University's anti-discrimination policy in your syllabus. Review the Office of Disability Services information for faculty regarding accessibility for students with disabilities and inform students of the Office of Disability Services in your syllabus so they know where to turn for accommodations. Check religious holidays each semester to make sure they do not make your course calendar challenging for some students to be involved. Academic regulations allow for excused absences or missed assignments for religious holidays when students notify faculty and plan to make up work. Consider your students’ academic and social experiences, preparation and expectations that they bring to coursework. Are there prerequisites for the course? What content and skills can you expect your students to bring with them? How can you introduce any skills they may not bring? Create a welcoming and inviting classroom environment by reaching out to students in advance, inviting to share about themselves in a pre-semester survey. Ask them to describe their academic and social experiences, preparation and expectations for the course. Invite them to share any challenges they foresee or anxieties they may have. Periodically, during the semester follow up to check in on any additional challenges they may be experiencing. Ask them to share their pronouns, if they wish. (Because questions about pronoun use can make people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, writing to students in advance rather than asking on the first day of class about pronoun use may feel less invasive and more welcoming.) Add structure. Hogan and Sathy argue that “structure plays a key role in inclusive teaching” because it “provides the organization, scaffolding, and accountability many students may need” and “has been shown to improve student outcomes . . . disproportionately for those who are underrepresented in higher education” (19). Require that students complete low-stakes assignments before, during, and after class. For example, hold students accountable for pre-class work like reading or watching a recorded lecture by having them collectively annotate the video or reading or reflect on the material in a class discussion board. Establish a consistent pattern of assignments in your course. Increase the level of difficulty as students move from pre-class work, to in-class activities, to post-class homework. Provide students opportunities for low-stakes practice before they are evaluated. Consider starting class with a lesson objective–a statement about what a student should be able to know or do after the class. Make your “hidden curriculum” explicit. Given who your students are and the experiences they bring to your course, what skills might you need to teach? What social experiences and cultural knowledge may give some students a “leg up” in their participation in class or their comprehension of course content? Clearly define the terms of your assignments and explain terms like summary, analysis, critique, etc. Explain how your students can contact you and how to use office hours. This is especially important for first-year students and students from some under-represented groups. Anthony Jack writes, “Something as simple as professors describing the purpose of office hours in the first class of the semester could be a step on the way toward making explicit the tacit expectations that permeate so many facets of college life” (191). Encourage your students to use office hours. For instance, you might incorporate a discussion with faculty into one of your early assignments (i.e. a revision workshop, discussion about research proposal, etc.) Clearly state your expectations for participation in discussions, and explain how students will be evaluated and graded. Invite students to share their own expectations for classroom participation and discussion. Give students an opportunity to share any barriers to participation they are experiencing throughout the semester. Check in with students about their participation during the course of the semester. Make explicit key terms used in your classroom (and in higher education in general). Commonly used words like “syllabus, liberal arts, prerequisite, internship, fellowship, and credit” can be foreign and alienating to some students. Put readings and other course materials on reserve in the library. State clearly on your syllabus that these materials are freely available and where to locate them. If you are using Canvas, be sure that your site is integrated with Reserves. We recommend adding reserve readings to individual modules so that they are very accessible to your students. In addition to being freely available, Ares course reserves optimizes texts for screen readers so that they comply with ADA standards for accessibility. Make documents and materials as accessible as possible following general disability accessibility guidelines. Test the accessibility of any materials you upload on Canvas using the Ally tool. Follow Ally’s instructions once you upload documents for making materials more accessible. These instructions of best practices for making documents and PDFs accessible may also be helpful. Use tools such as Panopto or Kaltura, which automatically caption videos making them more accessible to students, whether they are hearing impaired, speak English as a foreign language, or are watching somewhere that is loud such as the gym. Use Zoom’s captioning function when hosting guest speakers virtually in class. Create short online video lectures and assignments in especially challenging areas of your course to support the many different ways that people learn. You can use Panopto or Zoom to record and edit your lectures. This will level the playing field and make the material more accessible for all of your students. Key Resources: D’Antonio, Monica. “If Your Syllabus Could Talk.” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2007. Germano, William and Kit Nicholls. Syllabus: The Remarkable, Unremarkable Document that Changes Everything. Princeton University Press, 2020. Hogan, Kelly A. and Viji Sathy. Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom. West Virginia UP, 2022. Jack, Anthony. The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students. Harvard UP, 2019. "Six Principles of an Inclusive Syllabus Design." UMASS Amherst Center for Teaching and Learning. Accessed 6/1/23. Womack, Anne-Marie. Accessible Syllabus. Accessed 6/5/23. Reimagining Your Course Content Reimagining Your Course Content We encourage you to diversify your readings and materials in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, political viewpoint, and nationality. As you incorporate diverse texts and resources try to fully integrate these subjects and materials into the curriculum, rather than tokenizing or isolating them to a single day or week. Action Steps: Question the role and presence of underrepresented voices in your field. How have lesser-heard voices shaped or been restricted from shaping knowledge? How might the content of your course reflect this influence, presence, or absence? How might you challenge your students to think about this content from the perspective of marginalized groups? Locate places where you can incorporate diverse perspectives into what you are already teaching, making sure to integrate them fully into your curriculum so as not to tokenize any one perspective. By offering diverse examples throughout the semester you show the full complexity of human experience across identity. Consider context. As you diversify your readings, think about how you might introduce your students to the ways in which political, economic, and historical contexts shape knowledge in your field. Get comfortable with the messiness of equity. Design assignments that help your students to tackle messy questions and issues of inequity and exclusion rather than define an outcome. Experiment with interactive, collaborative assignments alongside more conventional exams, reading responses, and papers. Provide hopeful models of protest for students alongside substantive critiques. Even as you include materials that critique the status quo, it can be helpful and motivating to introduce models of hope that show how people have confronted systemic racism or exclusion. Revising your course content may involve shifting the structure of the course altogether to include the problem of racism or disability as a key theme of the course or as a school of thought to be studied amongst other theories or ideas. For instance, Anne Fox has moved from a “survey” to an “issue-based approach” that reflects emerging questions in her field as they concern disability and literature (41). Consider how you might create assignments that help students apply the course material to broader issues of equity. Fox suggests that, regardless of the disciplinary field, “the classroom represents a space of performance, in which we might historicize disability, represent disability culture, interrogate traditional narratives of disability, and invigorate our own canons, whatever they may be” (39). Assigning students to write a screenplay or short documentary that takes up the issues you have studied, write a blog connecting course material to contemporary concerns, create a podcast or video, make a historical timeline, or collaborate with a local nonprofit organization (among many other options) can all bring the material you are studying into active, relevant context for your students. Multi-modal digital assignments such as these often engage with real-world contexts or community organizations, motivating students. Princeton’s Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) can partner with you to design assignments where students work closely with community organizations. The McGraw Center’s Educational and Classroom Technologies can support and assist you as you digital assignments. Key Resources: Arshad, Rowena. “Decolonising the Curriculum: How Do I Get Started?” Times Higher Education, 2021. Fox, Anne. “How to Crip the Undergraduate Classroom: Lessons from Performance, Pedagogy, and Possibility.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2010, pp. 38-46. Kishimoto, Kyoko. “Anti-racist pedagogy: from faculty’s self-reflection to organizing within and beyond the classroom.” Race Ethnicity and Education, vol. 21, no. 4., 2018, pp. 540-554. Cultivating an Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Cultivating an Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Instead of “preaching” diverse content, consider how you and your students can “perform” inclusion, as Karen Teel recommends, “I aspire to create spaces in which students can recognize their roles in social issues, issues that do not conveniently park themselves outside the academy but often arise precisely within classrooms and educational institutions more broadly.” One way to do this is by making your students active in their own learning. Challenge your students to encounter and think through problems of exclusion, racism, and sexism for themselves and with one another. Help your students to reflect on how your disciplines (from humanities to STEM fields) have been influenced by institutional norms and social expectations that may be explicitly or implicitly biased or racist. Know too that studies show that active engagement and peer learning especially help to foster disadvantaged and marginalized students’ learning (see, for instance, “Active Learning Narrows Achievement Gaps for Underrepresented Students in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” (2020), “Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics” (2014), and “Peer-Led Team Learning Helps Minority Students Succeed” (2016)). We also invite you to reflect on your own academic experience and how this may influence your assumptions about the students in your class. In addition, sharing stories with your students about your own struggles with understanding new concepts, making unexpected connections, or solving particular problems may go a long way toward normalizing failure for your high achieving students. Action Steps: During discussions: Establish ground rules and values for discussion. This is particularly important in courses where controversial topics are at the center. Use class time to discuss concrete expectations for ensuring confidentiality, openness, respectful disagreement and civil debate. Invite your students to voice their own desires for the course, which increases their ownership over the course and gives them the opportunity to advocate for their own needs and interests. Create a shared class agreement early on in the semester. By setting class norms together, you ensure all students are aware of expectations for behavior in class, which makes it easier to address and hold students accountable for offensive and discriminatory comments. Be aware of contemporary terms for cultural identities. Use terminology that is clear and inclusive, but not divisive or essentialist. Preferences within cultural communities change over time and vary across regions. If you are unsure what term to use, ask in a non-threatening context. Use identity-language thoughtfully. Use gender-inclusive language that avoids gender binaries, such as replacing he or she with "they." Treat students as individuals rather than as token examples of an identity or group. Do not assume a student belongs to a particular group or can represent a fixed or unitary perspective on behalf of a group. Instead, encourage students to think of themselves in terms of their unique experiences and characteristics rather than in terms that evoke homogeneous or stereotyped identities. Show respect for perspectives and ideas that do not match your own. Create active learning opportunities, as these are correlated with increased academic success and a stronger sense of belonging for underrepresented students, especially in STEM fields. These might include activities such as polling during lectures, problem sets, class discussion boards, small group activities, or social annotations. Digital tools for asynchronous engagement, many of which integrate into Canvas, including Ed Discussion, VoiceThread, and (if your course is text heavy) an annotation tool such as Hypothesis or Perusall, can help to facilitate active learning activities. Give students time to process material. Pause for students to take a quiet minute to think of responses to key questions or jot down new questions. This practice enables everyone to more confidently contribute to class discussion. Give students brief opportunities to pair up to discuss key questions and share back with the group to provide a stronger basis for individual participation. McGraw’s suggestions for encouraging active learning offer many options for such interactive work. When assigning small group work, be sure to create well defined tasks and when possible, avoid outnumbering or isolating students from underrepresented groups. During the Semester: Connect individually with your students. Encourage students to meet with you one-on-one at least once during the semester. Frame feedback to students in terms of a “growth” rather than “fixed” mindset and emphasize your high expectations and your belief that your students can meet them, strategies that Claude Steele has shown improve the motivation and performance of minority students in particular. Explain your equitable pedagogy in compassionate yet direct ways. Describe to your students how your pedagogical approach (for instance, active learning activities and the alternative types of assignments) increases equity and inclusion in the classroom, even when it may not seem to be focused on equity directly. At the same time, if your subject matter concerns difficult issues concerning equity, be compassionate and understanding regarding the discomfort they may be experiencing when confronting challenging material or sensitive subjects. Leave room for metacognition. As part of active learning assignments and activities, invite students to reflect on their learning in addition to demonstrating their mastery of course content, for instance, in a self-reflection statement accompanying final projects. Key Resources: Fox, Helen. When Race Breaks Out: Conversations about Race and Racism in College Classrooms. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2014. Grant, Derisa. “On Difficult Conversations.” Inside Higher Ed, July 14, 2020. Accessed 6/1/23. Landreman, Lisa M., ed. The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators. Stylus Publishing, 2013. Snyder, Julia J., et al. "Peer-Led Team Learning Helps Minority Students Succeed." PLoS Biology, vol. 14, no. 3, 2016. Steele, Claude. Whistling Vivaldi: and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.