Johns Hopkins is committed to helping all students succeed. We all bear responsibility for this. This page provides strategies provided by faculty to make a course more inclusive and equitable. Please email questions or strategies you would like to share to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Encourage students to take advantage of University resources
- Ask students to send you accommodation requests instead of waiting for them to submit.
- Communicate student wellness resources and academic support like the Writing Center available through the University.
- Use inclusive language on your syllabus and communicate university resources for students.
- Learn student names using the Student Information System photo roster.
- Come to class early and stay until all students leave if possible to provide students opportunities to ask questions or informally engage you. Learn more about your students and their interests.
- Conduct a pre-semester survey to learn more about students and their backgrounds to help you prepare lesson plans.
- Use instructor mistakes to demonstrate how everyone, including faculty, can learn from failure.
- Choose readings and examples that represent diverse experts in the field. Help students see themselves in the curriculum when appropriate.
- When assigning groups, do not compose teams with underrepresented minorities sparsely in groups. For example, place 0, 2, or 3 women in a team when forming groups of 3 (i.e., do not create a team of 1 woman and 2 men).
- Provide prompt feedback on assessments so students can learn from their mistakes while they are still intellectually engaged with the submission.
- Clearly communicate course policies and expectations for extension requests. When possible, be flexible with assignments based on students' personal circumstances.
- Think carefully about the appropriateness of humor in the class.
- Communicate ground rules for discussions (e.g., "We attack ideas, not individuals"). Engage students in defining ground rules to motivate their commitment to adhere to them.
- Explain the purpose of office hours. Not all students – especially first years – may realize that they are a chance to connect with faculty and ask non-course related questions (e.g., ask for career advice).
- Learn about how unconscious biases, stereotype threat, and social capital can impact student learning through University workshops.
- Check out the Inclusive Teaching Strategy Workshop at Coursera developed by Johns Hopkins.
- Follow accessibility guidelines when creating course content. Make sure all course materials, media, and resources shared are accessible.
- Use varied assessment strategies (e.g., tests, problem sets, presentations, research assignments) so students have different methods for demonstrating their knowledge.
- Use ungraded assessments during class or before class to identify students’ knowledge or misunderstandings (e.g., formative assessment).
- Provide students options for submitting an assignment and demonstrating expected learning outcomes (e.g., paper, pre-recorded presentation, multimedia project).
- Conduct a mid-semester survey to allow students to anonymously express concerns or suggestions for improvement.
- Set high expectations and communicate your belief that all students can achieve them. Provide students multiple support opportunities (e.g., office hours, tutorials, supplemental resources, pre-recorded lectures).
- Scaffold assignments throughout the semester. That is, provide more structure and detailed instructions on early assignments, and provide less structure and details on later assignments as students learn expectations.
- Use low-stakes assignments to prepare students for high-stakes assignments. Use quizzes or homework problems to prepare students for questions that may be included on an exam.
Encourage all students to participate and contribute
- Use icebreakers to build community and help students get to know each other.
- Conduct activities that engage students in small groups so they get to know one another. Encourage students to use these connections to identify study partners. Switch groups throughout the semester so students meet additional partners.
- Encourage students to share diverse experiences or problem solving solutions to highlight differences as assets for learning.
- Give students time to quietly reflect after asking a question so they have time to prepare a response, brainstorm an answer, or write down their ideas.
- Use discussion boards and electronic communications to provide students opportunities to ask questions or share experiences during or after class.
- Use student contracts and peer evaluation when assigning student teams. Student contracts allow students to define their roles before they start working. Share peer evaluation forms so students understand how they will rate their partners at the end of the project.
- When possible, track student participation (e.g., use TAs in large classes) and encourage students who are not contributing to do so after class.
Apply Universal Design for Learning strategies
The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework provides an approach to designing meaningful learning environments that support learning variability in classrooms. UDL practices help ensure all learners can meet learning goals by removing barriers to learning, and creating a flexible learning environment. It provides a blueprint for designing strategies, materials, assessments, and tools to reach and teach all students, including those with diverse needs. Most practices are tweaks to course design that make learning more accessible for all students. Draw examples you use to illustrate course concepts from a range of social or cultural domains. Or invite students to identify examples from their own arenas of knowledge or expertise.
Learn more at the Hopkins Universal Design for Learning site