Interactive Transcript – Creating an Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Environment

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning offers some excellent principles for Inclusive Teaching and Learning Online Links to an external site.. The second principle, ‘Set Explicit Student Expectations’ relates directly to assignment development. Consider the following suggestions as you begin developing your assignments: 

  1. Create very clear instructions for your assignments. Provide a clear connection between the assignment and the course objective it aligns with. Develop step-by-step instructions for the assignment with clear information on what to submit (formatting, length) and when, and provide additional resources to help students work through the assignments.
  2. Include examples for students to review exemplars and work towards that goal.
  3. Present opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning with low-stakes assignments that allow them to track their growth and progress. Test Your Knowledge quizzes with multiple attempts and brief surveys to assess the learning are great ways to do this! 
  4. Consider incorporating surveys to ask students what is going well for them, what has been challenging for them so that the instructor teaching the course can provide additional support.
  5. Offer varied assessments with different formats to engage students in multiple and different ways; consider written assignments, discussions, video blogs, visual representations.
  6. If an objective can be assessed in different formats, offer those options within an assignment. For example, perhaps a student could submit a paper, a video, a podcast, or something else to meet the criteria of the assignment. 
  7. Try not to make assumptions about what your students already know. Folks may not be familiar with the software needed for an assignment or with the formatting of a specific document (like an annotated bibliography), so be sure to provide background support to students. This may involve developing assignments earlier in the course to help students gain familiarity with the resources needed to complete the assignment.