In May 2019, Anna Plemons and Amy Nusbaum, along with the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning, led a workshop on “Designing a Syllabus to Enhance Student-Faculty Relationships and Decrease Workload.” WSU faculty expressed considerable interest in the workshop, which was first and foremost about supporting student learning. If you’d like to read ATL’s blog post reflecting on the event, check out Warm Syllabus Workshop brings Inclusive Excellence to Syllabus Design. Below are some of the resources shared at the workshop and after.
Resources for Creating a Welcoming Syllabus
- CLASP Resource Page, WSU (Additional equity strategies for teaching)
- Accessible Syllabus Project, Tulane University (Contains useful examples of warm language and formatting)
- “This website is dedicated to helping instructors build a syllabus that plans for diverse student abilities and promotes an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable discussing their unique abilities. Countless instructors complain that students don’t read the syllabus. We believe students would use the document more effectively if it were designed more accessibly.”
- Teaching as Accommodation: Universally designing composition classrooms and syllabi, Womack (2017)
- Creating Foundation for a Warm Classroom Climate, Harnish (2011)
- Creating Inclusive Curricula in Higher Education, Blessinger (2019)
While not exhaustive, this selection of sample syllabi provides examples of good syllabus practices in a range of disciplines. Accessible syllabi can be created in PowerPoint, Word (on a plain document or using a newsletter template), or any other word processing software, to leverage warm, inclusive language with functional formatting.
Psychology—Amy Nusbaum’s Psych 105 Syllabus, shared at the workshop, demonstrates strategies for equity and accessibility, and includes a grading pie chart, and the “How I can help you succeed” section with resources for student success in and out of the classroom.
Anthropology—Strong sidebar, Q&A policies section, and table of assignments
History—Excellent example of a meaningful photo illustration and a useful table of contents (“what’s in this syllabus”)
Biology—Strong organization and conversational “callouts” (though could be visually simpler)