Inclusive Teaching for Classroom Equity

Creating welcoming and inclusive learning environments is essential for supporting UCI’s diverse student body. To promote this goal, DTEI has put together this collection of inclusive teaching practices to help instructors make their classrooms (in person or online) more equitable and accessible for all students. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but these practices offer a great place to start.

Inclusive Teaching Practices

📃 Course Policies / Syllabus

  • Avoid attendance policies. These policies disadvantage students with medical needs as well as students facing personal emergencies.
  • Make due dates flexible over a short period of time. For example, open an assignment dropbox on Monday and keep it open until Thursday. This allows students to plan ahead or deal with unforeseen circumstances without missing a deadline.
  • Be extra clear about due dates, penalties for academic dishonesty, and other course policies. Eliminating ambiguity helps reduce anxiety in students.
  • Avoid banning laptops—students may have a need for a computer in order to learn.
  • Create a syllabus that shares strategies for students to be successful in your course.
  • Share links and information about campus resources, such as the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication, Student Health Center, Counseling Center, and more.
  • Write your own inclusive statement and share with your students
  • Encourages respectful communication in an effort to promote inclusivity and reduce polarization and marginalization in the classroom

📅 Office Hours

  • Consider calling office hours “student hours” and explain to students what these hours are for.
  • Be flexible with times so you can accommodate students with heavy class and work schedules or family obligations.
  • Zoom office hours can accommodate students who live far from campus, are in a different time zone, or have challenges in getting to you in person.

✏️ Grading

  • Consider blind grading to reduce any biases.
  • Have clear expectations and guidelines that students are aware of before beginning an assignment or exam.
  • Consider using a grading rubric that is also shared with students.
  • Find ways to provide performance-improving feedback and opportunities to use that feedback.
  • Offer early and frequent assessments that mirror larger assessments or build skills for later assessments.
  • Use some ungraded or low-stakes assignments.
  • Share sample assignments from former students as models

📚 Course Materials

  • When possible, use Open Education Resources to reduce financial burdens on students.
  • Put textbooks, technology, and other required materials on reserve at UCI Libraries for students to check out.
  • Review course readings for cultural competency: Are diverse voices represented? Are topics considered through a multicultural lens? Where does bias or problematic language potentially occur in course materials?
  • Check your existing course materials if they are in an accessible format
  • For the course materials that you are creating, apply proper headings for texts, add alternative text for images and embed links to the destination word(s) without pasting the entire URL.
  • For course videos, use captions. For audio recordings, such as podcasts, make transcripts available. Transcripts for videos can also help students who have internet issues and cannot download or stream videos.

👥 Course Environment & Engagement / Participation

  • Have students introduce themselves so proper names and pronunciation are in their control. For large classes, have students fill out an index card to turn in.
  • Ask students about pronouns privately versus aloud during class. Also ask students if it is okay to use these pronouns in front of others.
  • Students should have multiple avenues for participation. Use the “plus one method,” which means choosing one method of participation, such as speaking up in class, and adding one more method, such as posting on a Canvas discussion board. This is especially important if you require class participation for a grade.
  • Notice how much certain students participate and make space for other voices.
  • Do not force students to speak, and do not ask students to speak as a representative of their race, ethnicity, sex, etc.
  • Survey students before the course starts, in the middle, and at the end of the course to better understand student needs throughout the course
  • Classroom discussions and group work respect diverse perspectives by following co-created norms for community discussion.
  • Provide multiple specific and intentional individual and/or group course activities where students interact with each other and build community.

Additional Resources