The Chronicle of Higher Education recently pointed us to the immensely useful Tulane Accessible Syllabus site.
If you’re hoping to teach at a regional public university or a community college or at anything like an open-access institution, you’ll need to think about how to make it so students of all kinds can success in your classes. You’ll have students with vision impairments, students who have anxiety disorders, and students with all kinds of other needs that call for accommodations in what you assign.
When you adjust your syllabus so it can be accessed by all kinds of students, all students will benefit. Just as sidewalk cuts that were meant for wheelchairs end up helping parents with strollers and kids on trikes and anyone pulling a wagon, syllabus tweaks can make a difference for lots of folks for whom they were not originally intended.
The Tulane site gives lots of great advice on how to adjust the language in your syllabus: from commands to invitations, from paternalistic to cooperative, and from cold to warm, to produce more student engagement.
The advice is great for teaching at any institution, but you’ll find it especially valuable with the students at teaching-intensive schools, who do not arrive with the sense of entitlement you may see in students at research universities.