The syllabus is often the first point of contact that our students have with you and your course. It sets the tone for the course regarding how a student views the classroom climate. The syllabus is an important tool in communicating course learning outcomes to students and outlining the course requirements and schedule. It should be an invitation into a positive learning experience.
CETL encourages equity-minded syllabus design. An equity-minded syllabus helps students have a positive experience in the course from day one. An equity-minded syllabus promotes student motivation and academic success.
Designing a Syllabus
A syllabus is most effective when it welcomes students to class, affirms students’ ability to master course content, indicates the instructor’s support for student success, and demystifies the course for students. The language of the syllabus should be encouraging and welcoming instead of punishing and unwelcoming. The Developing an Effective Syllabus Guide provides an overview of syllabus components, links you to additional resources and examples, and provides examples of language use for creating a welcoming syllabus.
- Developing an Effective Syllabus Guide
- Syllabus Template
- This template was developed by Dr. Melissa Malde from the College of Performing and Visual Arts. It is an excellent inclusive syllabus template that you can adapt for your own courses.
- Course Schedule Templates: These templates can help you build your course schedule, which is the final component of your syllabus
- UNC Syllabus Statements
Ensuring an Equity-Minded Syllabus
In traditional syllabi that focus on rules and course expectations, instructors outline basic course requirements. However, with well-crafted syllabi, faculty design learning experiences that positively shape and alter how students perceive their instructors and seek assistance for academic challenges. The language, content, and style of the syllabus are important. The guide above discusses these in depth.
UNC's BIO 101 Case Study
Faculty in UNC's biology program have been working on creating equitable learning environments for their students. Compare Dr. Ginger Fisher's traditional BIO 101 syllabus with an updated equity-minded syllabus.
Equity-Minded Syllabus Resources
- Supporting Student Success with an Equity-Minded Syllabus (webinar). Drs. Susan Keenan and Cindy Shellito provide a step-by-step process that will allow you to reconsider your syllabus as a tool to support equity and inclusion.
- Tips for Creating a More Inclusive Syllabus (article). Drs. Susan Keenan and Ginger Fisher, faculty in Biological Sciences, share tips for creating an equity-minded syllabus.