Course Culture

  • Design the syllabus to be welcoming to set the tone for your course. Welcoming students and incorporating a sense of belonging will help all students succeed.
  • Include your pronouns, how to pronounce your name, how to address you, and the purpose of office hours in the syllabus and on the first days of class. Not all students are familiar with the conventions of college courses.
  • Ask for and use student names and pronouns. 
  • Be open and transparent about your own learning and your mistakes, and be responsive.

Course Materials

  • Select or create course materials that represent diverse people and cultures.
  • If diversity is not represented in course materials, acknowledge and discuss whose perspectives are represented and how this impacts the field. Your library subject specialist is a great resource.
  • Use bias-free language in course materials. 
  • Ensure that all course materials are accessible. Incorporate accessibility from the start rather than forcing students to ask for accomodations.
  • Provide information for how (and why) to access student services, including the Disability Management system, Duke Reach, Learning services and Academic Deans

Course Activities

  • Make room for current events – acknowledge recent events, and that we all may be impacted. Treat people kindly.
  • Use structured active learning in class
  • Be prepared to address incidents of bias when they happen.
  • Include broad representation from diverse people and cultures
  • When using group activities, ensure that students treat each other with respect
  • Find ways to include all student voices (see “Conducting the class” from the full inclusive teaching guide for some ideas and examples).

Course Assessments

  • Create clear guidelines for assessments in the course.
  • Provide model examples of completed assignments.
  • Frame tests as learning opportunities to help students improve and master course content rather than as a way to compare students. Emphasize improvement with practice. 
  • Vary the types of assessments that you give students; individual students may be better able to demonstrate mastery in different ways.
  • Provide students with the option to make up for a poor grade by dropping their lowest score(s), or by offering them opportunities to increase low scores through corrections or additional assignments.

References and more information:

Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, University of Michigan. Inclusive Teaching Resources & Strategies (accessed June 15 2021)

Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning. Guide for Inclusive Teaching at Columbia  accessed June 15 2021

Duke Accessible Syllabus Project 

Sathy, V and KA Hogan 2019 Advice Guide: How to make your teaching more inclusive.  Chronicle of Higher Education 

Tanner, K.D. 2013 “Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity,” published in CBE—Life Sciences Education 12(3): 322–331   available online

Cagle, N et al. 2021 How to Create a Culturally Inclusive Course and Beyond

Oleson, Kathryn Carman. 2020 Promoting Inclusive Classroom Dynamics in Higher Education: A Research-Based Pedagogical Guide for Faculty. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing, 2020.