Syllabus Design & Course Information
- On or before the first day of class, distribute all course information, including required readings, assignment due dates, and schedules for tests and exams in case students need to pursue alternative arrangements.
- Highlight unfamiliar or less-common course requirements (including, for example, field trips, service learning, or group projects) to allow students to identify aspects of the course for which they may need to pursue advance arrangements or alternatives.
- Include some detail about assignments and exams in the syllabus (or in a supplemental document) so that students can determine whether they will need to seek accommodation or propose alternative arrangements. You might, for example, briefly describe the type of questions that will be included on the exam (multiple choice, essay, etc.). Similarly, you might note whether assignments will require in-class or other timed components, oral presentations, or collaborative work. Often these details are distributed later in the semester as the assignment or exam approaches, but distributing this information at the outset of the course can help students plan their semester and identify any additional resources they might require.
- Communicate your desire to establish an inclusive classroom and course. This may include an invitation for students to speak to you if they have any concerns about their ability to succeed in the course. This may also include guidelines for participation and interaction to establish an inclusive class atmosphere.
You may use or adapt either of the sample statements below on your course syllabus:
Sample syllabus statement from Accessibility Services (St. George Campus):
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability or health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or the Accessibility Services Office as soon as possible. The Accessibility Services staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner you let them and me know your needs, the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course. (From Accessibility Office, U of T)
Sample syllabus statement from U of T Professor Daniel Justice (Professor, Department of English):
In this course we will occasionally discuss controversial social and political issues, so be prepared. The atmosphere of the class should be as conducive as possible to positive inquiry and the free exchange of ideas—an Indigenous “harmony ethic” that gives all members of the community the opportunity to share their knowledge with others. Please be considerate of other opinions and beliefs, even if you do not agree with them, but also feel free to express your own opinions if you can do so respectfully. Respect also includes being prompt to class, finishing course work by due dates, refraining from mocking or interrupting others, and giving full attention to your fellow students and the professor. I do not tolerate rudeness, slurs, or personal attacks. Violation of this policy will result in a significant lowering of your participation grade or, if necessary, more substantial penalties. See the Code of Student Conduct for more information.
- List student support resources on your campus, including accessibility services, writing centres, math aid centres, registrars, counseling services, and academic skills centres. You can use the information available on the document Academic Support Services & Accessibility Offices at the UofT for this purpose.
- Make the syllabus available in paper and electronically in an accessible format (see Inclusive Educational Technology), and consider posting the syllabus to a class website or Blackboard site.