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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Classroom

Page history last edited by mwilliamson3@unl.edu 2 years, 4 months ago Saved with comment

Getting Started: Creating a Welcoming Syllabus

A. considering syllabus language

As part of a working group that I belong to, a colleague curated some materials to assist in creating welcoming, student-centered language in our syllabi. Some of that information appears here.

Why does the language I choose in my syllabus matter?

  • It’s often the place in online courses where first impressions are formed
  • Students (should) revisit it frequently. It’s a place where students can reaffirm their impression of your care for their success, or a place to view you as condescending or demeaning 3, 4
  • When students interpret the language as being friendly, they have a more favorable view of the instructor and are more likely to ask for help if they need it. 1, 2, 4



What kind of language? Where?

  • "Welcoming language includes contextual cues about why a particular policy or expectation is provided.  It also cues students that 'taking a course' or 'completing a course' is about learning and learning is a process of growth and development. " (Pacansky & Brock)
  • The table below provides examples of how to include 'warmer' language in different areas of one's syllabus.  Feel free to modify the suggestions to match your own voice.





Office Hours

I will hold an online office hour each week on Thursdays from 4-5pm. I welcome you to contact me outside of that time and will be happy to arrange a different meeting time in Zoom or via phone that accommodates both of our schedules.

I will hold one online office hour each week. Email me if you have questions but are unable to attend. We can find another time.  

Course Goals

Below is a list of specific skills this course is designed to guide you towards obtaining. Each assignment you complete in this course will contribute to your growth towards meeting these goals. After this class has ended, it is my hope that you will use these skills in your daily life.

Below is a list of specific skills you should obtain in this course. If you are motivated enough, you will use the skills in your daily life.

Participation option #1

I hope you actively participate in this course. I say this because I found it is the best way to engage you in learning the material (and it makes the lectures more fun)...

Come prepared to actively participate in this course.  This is the best way to engage you in learning the material (and it makes the lectures more interesting)...

Participation option #2

In online courses, your regular participation is the equivalent of coming to a class held on campus. Participation involves logging in to our course, navigating through the content pages in a module, completing the readings and videos, participating in discussions and other activities, and submitting assignments/quizzes/exams. Your participation is not only an important part of your learning, it will also contribute to the learning of your peers. As members of our learning community, each of us has a responsibility to create an environment in which we can all learn from each other. 

Regular participation in this course is required. It is important to engage in our course content in order to do well in this course. 


You should attend every class but extenuating circumstances arise that can make this difficult.  If you cannot attend a class, please let me know.  If circumstances make you miss more than XX classes during the semester, you may be overextended and should consult with me and/or an academic advisor about available resources and your next steps in the course.

I expect you to attend every class.  If you cannot attend a class, please let me know.  If circumstances make you miss more than XX classes during the semester, I will drop you from the course roster.

Missed exams or assignments

Unfortunately, illnesses, death in the family or other traumatic events are part of life.  Such events are no excuse for not contacting me within 24 hours of the event and provide documentation.  If you contact me within 24 hours of the event and provide documentation, a make-up exam/assignment will be given.

Unfortunately, illnesses, death in the family or other traumatic events occur.  Such events can be very difficult and impact your ability to complete course work on time.  If you contact me within 48 hours of the event, I will be happy to work with you to set up a make-up exam/assignment/timeline.

*Note: in general, having a flexible policy in this area is beneficial to students (CITE).


B. Creating a Google Site to Reach out Early to Students (On line professional development course): The Liquid Syllabus- A course offered and created by Michelle Pacansky-Brock (https://brocansky.com/)

All of the information needed to complete the course and create a liquid syllabus appears in the free canvas course listed below.



C. Here are a list of free stock photos you may wish to include in your presentations

Stock photo resources: Diverse imagery to place in your powerpoint slides

What you will need: Powerpoint (electronic) Slides of your lesson, typically.

You don't need to change every picture on your lecture slides, but here's some information to consider about being more conscientious regarding what goes on one's slides and perhaps changing a few images here and there.


Why make the images in one's lectures more diverse?

  • One easy thing we can do to encourage a student's sense of belonging is to make sure the images on our slides represent a variety of individuals, especially if those images are representative of those in our classroom. 
  • Images can help people challenge their implicit assumptions when they think about things like relationships, immigrants, disability, etc. 
    • Note: Be careful about using images in a way that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.
  • Changing up the implicit (or even explicit) narrative of how we present different concepts can lead to a more inclusive mindset.


Where to find free, diverse images:

D. Take a "Syllabus Challenge" 

created and offered by Dr. Kim Case (www.drkimcase.com). Here is the link to the site offering free resources, including the Syllabus Challenge:


This infographic affords faculty the chance to enhance inclusion and diversity into your classrooms by analyzing your syllabus for key feature supporting inclusion. This is not a time-intensive endeavor and can impact rapport with students.



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