What do you do? One thing I utilize in my teaching is defining what office hours are used for and describing how students can benefit from them. I prefer to reframe them as “student hours” and tell students that this is time dedicated to them rather than time dedicated to grading or planning for the next class. I reiterate this point throughout the semester and emphasize that they don’t need to have a problem or wait until there is a crisis to visit me, but rather it is an open invitation to discuss their experience in the course.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? This is inclusive because it helps demystify the “hidden curriculum” for students unfamiliar with the norms and culture of a college classroom. Through these interactions I learn more about the other responsibilities and obligations students have that impact their progress in the course. It is also my hope that this helps students get more comfortable speaking with their instructors and feeling like they have a say in their education.
How does it contribute to learning? I’ve noticed students are more willing to come to office hours when reframed this way. Students that come to office hours learn more because it gives us the opportunity to have a conversation about course materials and assignments, which in turn helps me offer advice or clarification on the work they are doing. Otherwise, they may only get the feedback once I am done grading their assignment. This also helps me to counter any misinformation that may arise when students seek help from each other instead of asking me. Having these interactions with students provides insight on what is working well in the course and what could be done better.
Shared by Luis Loya, PhD candidate in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication
What do you do? In my large economics lectures with discussion sections, I assign a weekly graded Discussion in Canvas that requires students to build on something we’ve done that week in class (e.g., add to a model, share a different piece of data or a citation that might either support or contradict something seen in class, etc.) The grading rubric specifies they must both find evidence and explain the relevance of the evidence. Students are grouped with their discussion section peers, so they can all look at the same thing together in their weekly in-person section meetings.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? Students take pride in their posts, and it creates an opportunity for people with different interests, backgrounds, and perspectives to connect with the material from class. It also includes students who are less comfortable speaking in public.
How does it contribute to learning? As discussion section facilitators, Teaching Assistants quickly review each Discussion and use the posts to review course material and briefly talk about the kind of economic work being done in the area. The goal is for students with particular interests or points of view to contribute to content and broaden their perspective about what economists do and think about, while also encouraging higher-level analysis of course material for greater retention.
Shared by Gwen Eudey, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics
What do you do? In order to provide the best possible learning experience, we have tracked the amount of time students spend on weekly learning activities – for example through weekly pulse surveys, TopHat questions, and e-text analytics. These data sources include data that is automatically collected about students plus students’ own impressions of their workload. From this, we have gained insights and adjusted the pace of the material in the course to be more consistent week-to-week.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? By providing a consistent workload, we aim to create a learning environment that is structured, supportive, and predictable. This is more accessible and equitable for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances.
How does it contribute to learning? Students can better plan their time and balance their other obligations, such as work or family responsibilities. This can reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier for students to engage with the material and succeed.
Shared by Jim Williams, Teaching Faculty, Computer Sciences
What do you do? I operationalize deadline flexibility as the opportunity to turn in every assignment up to two weeks in advance and up to one week after the due date.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? Flexible deadlines aid everyone: students with disabilities, students with chronic health conditions, students with religious conflicts, students with care-giving responsibilities and unpredictable work schedules, student athletes. Moreover, a deadline flexibility policy that does not depend on students having to disclose their trauma to instructors; that does not depend on students having to request extensions, which can be driven by a sense of entitlement and can be culturally driven (Calarco, 2014; Jack, 2016; Yee, 2016); and that does not depend on students being registered with disability services, which is more likely for more privileged students (California State Auditor, 2000; Griggins, 2005; Lerner, 2004; McGregor et al., 2016; Weis & Bittner, 2022), is not only more inclusive but also more equitable.
How does it contribute to student learning? Flexible deadlines contribute to students’ learning by accommodating their varied circumstances and challenges and enabling them to prioritize their well-being and personal responsibilities without sacrificing their academic progress. A course-wide, universal deadline flexibility policy fosters an inclusive and equitable environment that supports students’ diverse needs, regardless of their disabilities, health conditions, religious conflicts, care-giving responsibilities, work schedules, or athletic commitments.
Shared by Morton Ann Gernsbacher, PhD, Vilas Research Professor & Sir Frederic Bartlett Professor of Psychology
References available below
What do you do? I do not use timed quizzes or exams in my course.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? Timed assessment adds unnecessary stress to already stressful situations.
How does it contribute to learning? Students with accommodations related to testing do not have to reach out to me or TAs to schedule their extra time which makes one less thing they have to do. Overall, it reduces the burden of testing.
Shared by an instructor in the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies
What do you do? My course is fully online, and I provide multiple ways to access content to make the content easily accessible. I color-code my modules and syllabus to make them easy to follow. I create welcome videos that are closed-captioned to accompany the written instructions to course, modules, and assignments. I provide feedback on assignments in writing and via video. I use interactive learning tools to and offer options for different submission formats for assignments, such as via video or an infographic. I represent a wide variety of backgrounds and abilities in my images and examples.
Why is it inclusive? How do students experience it? I want the course to flow elegantly so students can focus on growth and learning rather than on trying to decipher my expectations. The course provides the students with different formats for receiving content and for completing assignments. It is representative of different abilities and backgrounds, and I strive to support my students as a group as well as individuals.
How does it contribute to learning? My course is the final class that Doctor of Audiology students take in their four-year graduate program. Over the years, I have adapted my content to focus on areas that students have identified they would like more focus on before graduation. For instance, I created online interactive clinical case scenarios to give more experience in specific clinical practices, and I update those each year based on student feedback. I also have adjusted the schedule of the course to be self-paced due to the students’ busy clinical schedules. I provide video and written feedback at regular intervals. I have students reflect on their projects and on those of their classmates.
Shared by Melanie Buhr-Lawler, Clinical Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders