Inclusive Teaching in Specific Course Contexts


Asynchronous (accessible at any time) methods of sharing content are generally more inclusive and accessible than synchronous (live) methods. However, opportunities for students to connect with their instructor(s) in real time are still helpful ways of building connection and community. Think flexibly and creatively about how you will balance in-time and any-time learning opportunities.

Seminars and Tutorials

Seminars and tutorials often rely heavily on discussions. Set clear group guidelines and expectations, perhaps as a full class, so that if a difficult topic emerges, you can refer back to the group’s agreed-upon modes of behaviour. If you use a discussion board, ask students to introduce themselves in order to build community, and give them sample posts so that they know your expectations. If teaching assistants typically lead discussions, make sure to share your own expectations and guidelines with them, and give them resources to develop their own classroom conduct guidelines with their students.

Formal Group Work

Set clear group guidelines and expectations for the course as a whole, and help students set their own guidelines and expectations among group members. Remember that working in groups is itself a skill that students need to learn, and make sure you take the time to teach it. And be forgiving of yourself and your students if things go wrong—this resource from the University of Waterloo provides some common pitfalls and steps for remediation.

Other Learning Environments

Especially in remote contexts, recognize that a particular learning task may require additional skills that students may or may not know, for instance, if a music student needs to share a video of their performance with their instructor, they will need to know how to record themselves (including having access to appropriate technology) and how to upload and share a large file. If a student is participating in an online lab, they might need to learn how to use the specific software the course is using. More than ever, it is important to make these “hidden expectations” a part of the skills and knowledge students learn in the course. Clearly explain all instructions and offer resources and flexibility for students with different backgrounds.