With contributions from 2020-21 CITLS Student Fellows Fatimata Cham ‘23, Anna DeVault ‘21, Monica Rizk ‘22, Allen Wu ‘24, and Hamna Younas ‘22

a bunch of students with their backs turned wearing back packs walking towards a campus building

Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels


The purpose of this resource is to share student perspectives on inclusive teaching strategies already used by many Lafayette faculty and which the students consider that should be maintained. These recommendations were developed in partnership with CITLS Student Fellows, who drew from their classroom observations during the Spring 2021 Inclusive Instructors Academy as well as their own experiences as students.

In general, the recommended strategies embrace the principles of building community, accounting for student diversity, increasing transparency, obtaining feedback on teaching efforts, and maintaining flexibility. 

Course Design 

Inclusive Language & Communication

  • Communicate course expectations clearly and transparently.

Given that teaching entails more than delivering course content, it is important to communicate with students about how they learn and why they learn in particular ways. These are aspects of learning that may not be clear, or transparent, to all students at first. Consult the Assignment Design Using the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) Framework to review ways to communicate course expectations and design assignments transparently.

  • It is useful to have contact information (including office hours, email, and expected response time) clearly communicated on the syllabus
  • Learn and use students’ names and pronouns.

Gender-inclusive pedagogy, from how instructors and students introduce themselves, to the language on the syllabus and the course content, can have wide-reaching implications for fostering inclusion in the classroom.

Office Hours

  • In addition to office hours, consider having drop-in hours that don’t require having a prior appointment.

Sometimes students might find it easier to drop by during office hours to ask a question rather than solely schedule an appointment ahead of time.

  • Set up virtual or telephone options for meeting with students.

In some cases, students have little time to move from one class to the next, and stopping by office hours when they might be out of their way can make it harder to take advantage of this time.

Ongoing Class Activities and Strategies

Activities and Engagement

  • Diversify class activities to keep students engaged in the classroom, such as through discussions, lectures, debates, games, videos, podcasts, guest speaker visits, etc. 
  • Encourage all students to participate by building in a variety of active learning strategies.

Consult the resource on Implementing Active Learning while Masked and Socially Distancing for recommended practices. 

Consider designing opportunities for students to work together through collaborative learning

Fostering Connection and Building Community 

  • Reach out to students early in the semester.

Many faculty send welcome emails or welcome videos introducing themselves to the class prior to the beginning of the course. Students can be encouraged to post similar videos to Moodle or to a class forum. Some also create introductory course videos that give an overview of the course, view two examples here and here.

The CITLS Who’s In Class? Form developed in collaboration with students, faculty, and staff members, helps instructors foster an inclusive learning environment early on and throughout a course by increasing their awareness of the diverse assets that their students bring to the classroom.

  • Reach out to students with accommodations.

Students with accommodations are attuned to what works and what doesn’t work for them. Ask them (privately and individually during office hours or after class) how to make the class space more comfortable and welcoming to them. 

  • Use mid-course surveys to check in with students.

Mid-course surveys are an effective way to gauge how students are doing. CITLS supports various types of feedback on teaching. Additionally, the Center has developed a Mid-course Feedback Survey resource with a question bank and step-by-step instructions for using a Google Forms template.

Evaluation and Assessment 

  • Use different and flexible methods to evaluate and test students’ understanding of course materials (open-note exams, creative assessments, etc.).

There are a variety of ways to measure students’ learning. Consult the following resources for more information: Assessment, Designing and Administering Assessments for Remote and Flexible Teaching, and Ungrading Pedagogy.

  • Have an “Oops token” option to account for the unexpected.

Sometimes things happen that get in the way of students’ best intentions to complete an assignment on time, study for an exam, or simply do their homework prior to class. To account for the unexpected situations in a way that is caring and flexible, some faculty use “oops tokens,” which are a set number of “cards” or “passes” that give students the opportunity to redo an assignment or retake a quiz with no questions asked. “Oops tokens” can soften the impact of class policies in ways that avoid negatively impacting a student’s overall grade in lieu of an unexpected event.