Nominations Open for Blended Learning Faculty Fellow

yellow columbine flowerAre you excited about blended/hybrid learning? Do you intentionally integrate your classroom learning activities with asynchronous learning activities on Canvas or elsewhere? Do you like to share your teaching strategies and experiences with teaching colleagues? If so, you may be interested in this opportunity!

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Academic Technologies, Ecampus, and the Office of Academic Affairs are partnering in the third year of the Blended Learning Innovations in Pedagogy initiative to answer the call for increased support of faculty development, exploration of alternative course modalities, exploration of the potential role and implications of generative AI in teaching and learning, and application of inclusive evidence-based teaching practices. This initiative is designed to build faculty capacity for blended course design and delivery, to improve student engagement and learning, and to share lessons learned with the broader OSU community.

In the first year of this initiative, the Fellow guided redesign of five large-enrollment courses, and in the second year, the Fellow co-facilitated faculty learning communities and developed resources for the CTL Blended Learning webpage.

CTL is accepting nominations and self-nominations for the 2022-23 Blended Learning Faculty Fellow. The Fellow will have opportunities to be involved in coordination, design and facilitation of faculty development around blended learning. The Fellow will support CTL’s strategic goals of developing a culture of teaching innovation and enhancing student success at OSU. See the Call for Nominations.

Nominations will be accepted directly from interested candidates and will also be solicited from academic leadership (deans, directors and department heads). Nominees must be OSU teaching faculty including non-tenure track, tenure-track or tenured. The appointment will begin in September and will cover three terms: Fall ‘23, Winter ‘24 and Spring ‘24. CTL has $10,000 available for this opportunity.

Questions can be directed to Cub Kahn in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

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Curious about ChatGPT in Teaching and Learning?

Do yourself a favor. Explore. Immerse yourself in it. We’ve landed on a new planet. Yes, we face dangers, some of which are unknown. Still. A new planet. And we’re on it. –Michael Feldstein,

clouds and raindrops on windowAre you already using generative AI in your teaching? Or just curious about these new tools, but haven’t had time to try them?

Join CTL and UIT-Academic Technologies in conversations around ChatGPT and generative AI at four upcoming Oregon State University faculty drop-in discussions about the impact of generative AI on education. What are your concerns? What are the potential benefits for you and your students? Can teaching and learning be significantly enhanced?

Bring your questions and your curiosity as we explore together:

  • Corvallis campus: May 3 at 2 p.m. and May 16 at noon in the LINC 468 Faculty Lounge. Optional: Bring a laptop to try ChatGPT.
  • Zoom: May 11 at 11 a.m. and May 22 at noon.

See the May CTL events calendar for details about each event, including the links for the Zoom sessions. Drop in for any portion of these sessions. No registration needed, but OSU authentication is required for the virtual sessions, so please log in to Zoom using ONID to ensure access.

CTL encourages faculty to contact us if you would like to schedule a consultation about AI tools in teaching and learning. See ChatGPT and Other AI Tools: Implications for Teaching and Learning for additional information.

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Exciting and Engaging Undergraduate Students in a Post-COVID Classroom

Join us: Keynote Speaker Dwaine Plaza and Professor of Sociology will present “What is good teaching in the Post-Covid 19 classroom.”

This is still a key question that faculty are currently wrestling with in higher education because the culture and students’ expectations have dramatically changed since March 2020. During this presentation, he will use his own twenty-five years of classroom experience to make recommendations on how faculty at Oregon State University can be innovative and think differently about their teaching, testing, and engaging students using modern technologies and pedagogical approaches.

Professor Plaza’s Keynote address is a part of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Quality Teaching Celebration on Thursday, May 4, from 4:30 – 6:00 PM at the Memorial Union Horizon Room, with a reception to follow. Registration

About the keynote speaker:

Dwaine Plaza, the recipient of the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award for 2022, is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University. He has been at OSU since 1997. His teaching includes Introduction to Sociology, Race and Ethnic Relations, U.S. Immigration Issues, and Applied Research Methods. Each year he teaches five classes that range from the first-year introductory level through to doctoral students. In all classes, he prompts students to think creatively, critique the everyday assumptions they take for granted, and leave the class with more questions than answers. In taking his classes, students should expect to be engaging in primary research (data collection), academic writing, critical thinking, working in teams, debating, discussing current social issues, and doing presentations. Some examples of the primary research his students engage in include visiting a local pioneer cemetery to study migration, mobility, and social class issues. Taking students out to rural Oregon to expose them to Native American communities and culture. Having students build their own Youtube teaching videos on topics that range from gender representation, social justice, and race relations in the United States. Directing students to go outside the classroom to ethnographically observe human relations and interactions at the gym, a college football game, or by doing a random act of kindness to a stranger as a social experiment. Dr. Plaza has also led groups of students on study-abroad trips to Cuba and Canada to expose them to the effects of globalization on foreign cultures. Professor Plaza strongly believes that giving students the tools they need to see their own value, analyze information and situations, and effectively solve problems in the 21st century is what we are about at Oregon State University.

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Syllabus Insights from First-Generation Students

Many instructors want their syllabi to help create inclusive learning environments, but in practice it is hard to anticipate how our students will interpret our language, especially because what they consider to be incomprehensible academic jargon is largely dictated by their previous educational experiences. When tackling this challenge, many institutions offer a university glossary of common terms to help level the proverbial playing field.  However, this approach is inherently flawed; who determines which words to include, how quickly will the glossary become outdated, and how can it possibly contain every necessary word or concept necessary without becoming an overwhelmingly large document? Moreover, to provide a glossary is to take a deficit approach to serving students insofar as it assumes first-generation and other diverse student populations are lacking, and therefore need remedial education in order to reach the level of the rest of the student body. But first-generation students make up a significant portion of students – about one third according to the U.S. Department of Education (Cataldi et al., 2018).  Therefore we offer alternate syllabus strategies based on feedback from first-generation students at Oregon State University that promote confidence and better support student learning.

Situating Students as Experts

In November 2022, as part of National First-Generation College Celebration, OSU’s First! Committee organized a “Break the Code” social event providing an opportunity for first-gen students to meet each other and mingle while lending their perspectives to help OSU meet institutional goals set as part of our participation in NASPA’s First-gen Forward Cohort. Nineteen students gathered to eat pizza and review syllabi from popular courses. Frequently conversing with each other and with committee volunteers, they highlighted confusing terms and statements and added annotations to signal what they liked and what they would change.

 Breaking Down Academic Jargon

Much of the first-gen students’ feedback identified words they didn’t know or didn’t understand in a particular context. In other words, jargon specific to academia:

  • Academic concepts related to upcoming course material (such as “quantum” or “precis”)

Some of the flagged terms were related to concepts that would be covered in the course, which led us to wonder if instructors might consider being explicit, either in the syllabus or in class, about the fact that students are not expected to already know such words, but can look forward to being able to define them by the end of the term.

  • General higher education jargon (such as “cumulative,” “prerequisite,” and “co-requisite”)

More commonly, participants highlighted terms students presumably encounter in variety of university contexts, including institutional websites. In these cases, it could be helpful to use a more common synonym or rephrase in a more descriptive way. For example, “The final includes information covered since the midterm” instead of “the final is not cumulative”.  One small group discussion revealed that one student knew what “proctored” meant and the other didn’t; the one who did said they had learned it as part of their preparation to take an AP exam, which we know is an experience that not all students share, nor are expected to share in order to be successful in college.

Students also questioned more unexpected syllabus elements, including:

  • DEI statements (“is this statement meant for me?)

These examples revealed the extent to which syllabus language can invoke cultural norms and assumptions in less obvious ways than jargon.  At our event, one course’s DEI statement was labeled as “Nice!” by one student. In a different course’s similar statement, however, the terms “underrepresented,” “marginalized,” and “socioeconomic” were circled by another student to indicate confusion. We were struck by the possibility that some of the very students instructors seek to welcome with statements of inclusivity may not feel recognized by such umbrella terms. For this reason, more specific and direct language associated with identity—such as “students of color,” “working class,” or “disabled”—may be more welcoming, not least because they indicate that the faculty member has given thought to inequities in their particular environment.

  • Grading scales (“exceptional” versus “superior”)

A grading scale may seem to provide helpful clarity about expectations. But one student annotated a typical scale, which presented “A” as “exceptional,” “B” as “superior,” and so on, as “mean and unnecessary,” while another student highlighted “B=superior” to indicate confusion. These reactions suggest that the difference between “exceptional” and “superior” may not be obvious to students. Furthermore, students may be uncomfortable with the value judgements such a scale implies, which might be taken as judgements of them as students and people as opposed to assessments of particular skills demonstrated in the course. The syllabus could reassure students that grades are an assessment of skills demonstrated at a particular moment in time, rather than the instructor’s reflection of students’ academic capabilities and, by extension, identities.  A points-based system may avoid adding unnecessary value judgements to grading scales, but instructors could also, again, spell out in more detail what they mean by “exceptional.”

 Crafting an Inclusive Syllabus

Our time reviewing syllabi with first-generation students revealed that when it comes to promoting inclusivity, it is essential that instructors craft syllabi with direct language and with context in mind. We must first ask: Who is the document for and how will students engage with it? If a syllabus will be read by students on their own, you may want to include a lot of context, or offer a quiz to ensure students have understood course policies. If you go over the syllabus in class, that context might be offered verbally. Some instructors like to keep a more streamlined syllabus but include a glossary or additional “FAQ” section. What these approaches share is a commitment to connecting the dots, which welcomes all students into a community of learning.

Cataldi E. F., Bennett C. T., Chen X. (2018). First-generation students: College access, persistence, and postbachelor’s outcomes (NCES 2018–421). National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from

About the authors

Brenna Gomez

Brenna Gomez is the Director of Career Integration in the Career Development Center, where she runs the Career Champions professional development program for faculty and instructors. She also teaches technical and creative writing in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film.

Caitlin McVay

Caitlin McVay is the Beaver Connect Coordinator for the Educational Opportunities Program and is the primary contact for the First! Committee at OSU.

Rebecca Olson

Rebecca Olson is Associate Professor of English at Oregon State University, where she teaches early modern literature and culture. She is a member of the Boston University chapter of Tri-Alpha, the national honor society for first-generation college students. 

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Join the OSU Digital Accessibility Community

About the OSU Digital Accessibility Community

The Ally accessibility tool in Canvas is about to turn one year old! Now that many faculty are using Ally to check course content, they have questions about how to improve accessibility of their course materials. In order to deliver focused support for the remainder of the academic year, a Microsoft (MS) Team called OSU Digital Accessibility Community is now available to answer questions about accessible course materials.

Here is how it works

After joining the OSU Digital Accessibility Community, faculty and students can submit questions in the Team channel. Staff from UIT Academic Technologies, Ecampus, Equal Opportunities and Access, Disability Access Services, and Center for Teaching and Learning will respond to the questions. The Team channel can also be used for live support sessions, as staff are available. While no one person in the community is an expert, they can share what they know when faculty and students have questions.

The new Team is open for business. To join from a computer:

  1.     Open MS Teams and click Teams (left navigation menu) > All Teams
  2.     Click the “Join or create team” button in the upper right corner
  3.     Hold your mouse over OSU Digital Accessibility Team and click Join

Need help with MS Teams? Contact the Service Desk.

What’s next?

OSU leadership is evaluating resources needed to support university-wide accessibility of digital tools. Look for more communication later in 2023.

By Lynn Greenough, Associate Director, Learning Platform Services, UIT-Academic Technologies

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ChatGPT = Giant Pedagogical Transformer? Join the Conversation about AI Tools

Cherry tree blooming on OSU MU QuadWow! The late 2022 buzz about ChatGPT and other generative AI tools has quickly become a crescendo that is ubiquitous in conversations about teaching and learning in higher ed this spring.

Questions abound: How do AI tools work? In what aspects is their output biased? Should their use be discouraged or celebrated in the college classroom? What uses of AI tools are violations of academic integrity and which are not? In what ways will AI help or hinder teaching and learning?

Opinions widely differ and definitive answers are few, in part because even though AI has been developed over decades, it’s just been four months since ChatGPT burst into the consciousness of higher ed as a free tool that quickly grew to 100 million monthly active users. We lack research on the use of such tools in education and we’re just starting to get widespread real-world experience teaching and learning with hundreds of AI tools.

The vast potential for use of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools to alter faculty and student approaches to course assignments and assessments introduces more uncertainty into an educational environment still rebounding from pandemic disruption. As students and faculty move forward in this rapidly shifting landscape, it’s useful to explore AI tools, share information with each other, and foster intentional conversations about teaching and learning with AI.

In this vein, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers ChatGPT and Other AI Tools: Implications for Teaching and Learning with guidance about potential opportunities and limitations, setting course-level expectations, sample syllabus statements, an Office of Information Security Statement, and recommended resources to learn more.

Two upcoming virtual events will further the conversation within the OSU community:

Excellent resources from the Feb. 14, 2023, OSU Ecampus Winter Faculty Lunch, AI Tools, Education & ChatGTP, are also available: Slide deck  and event recording (69 min.)

CTL encourages instructors to contact us if you would like a consultation about AI tools in your teaching or if you would like to share your policies (for example, a syllabus statement) about AI use with OSU faculty. We welcome your input.

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New Tool for Faculty Peer Review of Canvas Discussions

Faculty peer reviews of teaching benefit faculty and students in a variety of ways. Peer review is endorsed and recognized within and outside of OSU as an evidence-based practice that supports quality teaching, and is also a component of promotion and tenure dossiers for many OSU faculty.

In a campus-based course, a peer reviewer may join a class session to observe students interacting with each other and with the instructor. In hybrid and fully-online courses, Canvas discussion forums are primary places for direct student and instructor engagement.

For faculty peers who are reviewing hybrid and courses, having access to the online discussions is a critical aspect of the review.

UIT-Academic Technologies has developed a tool in Canvas called Faculty Peer Review that allows faculty to share discussion forums with colleagues during faculty peer reviews in a way that protects student data and mirrors the on-campus peer review classroom visit.

The tool is entirely optional for faculty who want to create an anonymized discussion as part of a peer review.

The Faculty Peer Review tool will be added to all OSU Canvas course sites on March 29 (the tool is not visible to students). Learn how to enable the tool in your course.

Have questions about this new tool or other instructional technology? Send us an email:

By Lynn Greenough, Associate Director, Learning Platform Services, UIT-Academic Technologies

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Celebrating our Teaching Award Winners!

Spring Celebration of Quality Teaching

Every year, close to 2,000 OSU teaching faculty work hard to provide our students with an exceptional college experience. Being an effective educator takes work. Course design, assessment and course delivery all involve energy.

Over the last few years, our teaching faculty kept teaching even through a pandemic.  We, the staff of the Center for Teaching and Learning, get to see and hear much of the wonderful activities going on in the classroom.  OSU also recognizes outstanding efforts. In this post, we take a moment to celebrate all 2022 Teaching Award winners.  We thank you all for your service to students and add a special cheer to these award winners.  Please take a moment to send your regards using the links below.

We will celebrate them all at our May 4th, 2023 Celebration of Quality Teaching.  Join us to hear a special presentation by Dwaine Plaza, School of Public Policy in the College of Liberal Arts, recipient of the Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award.

RSVP here.

In recognition of outstanding teachers in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the R. M. Wade Award for Excellence in Teaching/Registry of Distinguished Teachers awards Alec Kowalewski, Horticulture; and Desiree Tullos, Biological and Ecological Engineering are the recipients of this award.


Alec Kowalewski

Desiree Tullos

Desiree Tullos





Shanna Ruyle

Shanna Ruyle


The College of Business recognizes excellence in the classroom with the Byron L. Newton Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. The recipient of this award was Shanna Ruyle, School of Marketing, Analytics, and Design.



Amiee Huff

The College of Business Betty and Forrest Simmons Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award honors the standout among instructional faculty who have taught in the graduate business program. The recipient of this award was Aimee Huff, School of Marketing, Analytics, and Design.



Kim Bernard


The College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmosphere Sciences Anita L. Grunder Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is awarded annually to a CEOAS faculty member who demonstrates excellence in undergraduate teaching in the college. The recipient of this award was Kim Bernard, Marine Studies Initiative.


Flaxen Conway

Flaxen Conway

The College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmosphere Sciences Pattullo Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching recognizes a teaching faculty member who has achieved excellence in teaching within CEOAS over a period of several years. Flaxen Conway was the recipient of this award.



Judy Liu


The College of Engineering Faculty Teaching Excellence Award emphasizes actual classroom teaching. Judy Liu, Civil and Construction Engineering was the recipient of this award.




Elaine Fu

The College of Engineering Loyd Carter Award recognizes outstanding and inspirational teaching. Elain Fu, Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering was the recipient of this award.



Sue Galatz


College of Engineering Online Teaching Award recognizes a member of the engineering faculty for unusually significant and meritorious achievement in online teaching and student learning. Sue Galatz, College of Engineering Administration was the recipient of this award.


Tracy Arras

The College of Engineering Dennis Marker Teacher of the Year award is for faculty teaching excellence in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering. The recipient of this award was Tracy Arras.


Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez


The College of Forestry Robert Aufderheide Award recognizes the outstanding instructor or professor on the teaching staff. Carlos Gonzalez, Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management was the recipient of this award.


Rorie Solberg

The College of Liberal Arts Thomas R. Meehan Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching. Rorie Solberg, School of Public Policy was the recipient of this award.




Evan Baden

The College of Liberal Arts Isabelle Brock Memorial Outstanding Instructor Award recognizes exceptional contributions by a CLA Instructor through teaching and mentoring students. Evan Baden, School of Arts and Communication was the recipient of this award.



John Larison

The College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Ecampus Instructor Award recognizes exceptional contributions through teaching and mentoring students by a CLA Instructor who teaches primarily through Ecampus. John Larison, School of Writing, Literature, and Film was the recipient of this award.



Dwaine Plaza


The College of Public Health and Human Sciences Richard M. Bressler Senior Faculty Teaching Award recognizes faculty with longtime service to Oregon State University who have demonstrated a major commitment to undergraduate instruction over an extended period of time. The recipient of this award was Dwaine Plaza, School of Public Policy in the College of Liberal Arts.


Liz Gire

The College of Science Fred Horne Award for Excellence in Teaching Science recognizes sustained excellence in teaching science by honoring a faculty member in the College of Science who has repeatedly demonstrated exceptional instructional qualities and has had a significant impact on students over a period of not less than five years. Elizabeth Gire, Physics was the recipient of this award.



James Molyneux


Kyriakos Stylianou

The College of Sciences Loyd Carter Awards for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching in Science award encourages and recognizes effective and inspirational teaching. James Molyneux, Statistics, and Kyriakos Stylianou, Chemistry were the recipients of this award.



Mika Archer


Aaron Lewis


Tenisha Tevis






The 2022 Ecampus Excellence in Online Teaching and Student Engagement Award recognizes three faculty members who exemplify excellence in online teaching and student engagement. Mika Archer, School of Language, Culture, and Society; Aaron Lewis, Business Management; and Tenisha Tevis, Adult & Higher Education Program were the recipients of this award.


Val Sawiccy

The Herbert F. Frolander Graduate Teaching Assistant Award recognizes graduate students who have excelled in their capacity as teaching assistants. For 2022, this honor was given to Valeri ‘Val’ Sawiccy, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Integrative Biology at the College of Science.


Marita Barth

Marita Barth


The OSU Faculty Excellence in Online Teaching Award recognizes faculty who devote a significant amount of time to online teaching and online course development of for-credit courses. For 2022, the recipient was Marita Barth, a chemistry senior instructor II in the College of Science.


Lindsay Biga

The OSU Faculty Teaching Excellence Award honors unusually significant and meritorious achievement in teaching and scholarship that enhances effective instruction. In 2022, the recipient was Lindsay Biga, senior instructor in Integrative Biology at the College of Science.


Chase Simpson

Chase Simpson


OSU American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Teacher of the Year recognizes the outstanding teacher each year, and is awarded by the ASCE student chapter by a vote of its members. The 2022 recipient of this award was Chase Simpson, School of Civil and Construction Engineering.

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JOIN CTL’s “Read, Reflect, Reform” Spring Book Club

Join the Center for Teaching and Learning’s “Are You IN(clusive)? READ, REFLECT, REFORM” Spring Book Club.

The Read, Reflect, Reform book clubs use a blended format with 2 synchronous meetings (times set by the group, in person or remote) and asynchronous activities. Activities commence Spring Term 2023.

You will receive free – Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom (while supplies last).

Join Now! – March 17 deadline


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Radical Empathy: 5 Ways to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive

Katie Hubler

By Katie Hubler, Ph.D., CTL Special Projects Fellow. Katie’s area of expertise is radical empathy in teaching; well-balanced teaching; course and assignment redesign; and education in the Anthropocene.

What is radical empathy? “Radical Empathy” (RE) is a model of holistic, inclusive teaching that can help instructors foster a welcoming and equitable university classroom. It utilizes several highly-effective teaching practices common to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), trauma-informed (TI) pedagogy, anti-racist education, and inclusive teaching. Adding the word “radical” to empathy denotes a “far-reaching and thorough” application of empathy, one that includes reflection upon and broader contextual understanding and awareness of current and historical power structures and one’s positionality–and particularly our students’ experiences, positionalities, and agency–within those power structures.

The radical empathy approach outlined here (and in my recent “QT Talk” at the CTL) focuses less on engaging with interpersonal emotions than with demonstrating our empathy and recognition of students’ needs and realities by adopting—as standard and routine practice—equitable instructional methods and policies that support minoritized students and students who have experienced trauma.

While the RE approach requires up-front effort and attention to course design, it ultimately can save instructors time and emotional labor by having structures and clear-but-flexible policies in place to meet a variety of student needs at scale and reduce the need for on-the-fly accommodations.

Five strategies for building radical empathy into your courses:

1. Craft a warm, welcoming syllabusOur syllabi introduce the students to our class and our personalities, often before the first meeting. A warm and welcoming syllabus can help establish a supportive tone for your course and encourage students to feel more comfortable reaching out for assistance when needed (Gurung & Galardi, 2021). One simple way to do this is to utilize personal, student-centered language such as “you, we, I will” rather than formal, impersonal statements like “students are required” or “the instructor expects.”

Defining terms that might be unfamiliar to students (syllabus, office hours, cumulative) or using alternative terms (course schedule, help hours, including content from weeks 1-10) can also help ensure that all students grasp course policies. You might consider asking someone outside of academia (like a family member) to examine your syllabus and flag anything that isn’t clear to them. [See the recent Beyond DEI Syllabi Presentation for more].

2. Get to know your students so you can better anticipate needs and empathize with their current realities. As many of us can attest, asking students to stand up on the first day of class to state their name and major is NOT a great way to get to know them. An assigned introductory survey offers a more effective avenue for learning about your students, their current circumstances, and potential challenges. The survey answers provide insight into what students may need from you in the classroom or what service referrals they might benefit from (such as CAPS or the Basic Needs Center).

3. Promote student agency in multiple aspects of your course.  Granting students more agency helps rebalance instructor-student power dynamics and creates a more egalitarian classroom in which students feel empowered to contribute. Conferring with students to craft course policies and components for assessments signals that you value their insights and perspectives. Providing students with options for participation and diverse formats for assignments further encourages motivation and innovation. Agency and choice are important for students—particularly those who are survivors of trauma—to gain a sense of control and self-empowerment within the classroom.

4.  Help all students succeed by structuring your class to provide more opportunities to actively engage with the class content and their peers. Courses with higher levels of structure motivate student engagement through frequent use of required (but low-stakes) formative assessments (reading quizzes, class polls, discussions, worksheets, practice exam problems). Research demonstrates that minoritized students particularly benefit from courses that include more structure, and their rates of academic performance are higher in such courses (Eddy & Hogan, 2014). Regular activities keep students engaged in course materials at multiple points throughout the week; this repetition and periodic review reinforces academic practices that promote student success.

5.  Demonstrate your commitment to student success and empathy with student realities with course policies that anticipate student needs.  I am a big advocate of policies that keep students accountable and routinely engaged with a course, but also allow for flexibility.  For instance, you might consider using a “token” system for late work or absences. The use of “tokens” and Canvas-accessible forms can facilitate flexibility by allowing students to request  late work extensions and excused absences. While forms may seem impersonal, their use helps to meet student needs at scale and promotes equity as students from minoritized backgrounds may be reluctant to reach out with an email to request an accommodation.

I would also suggest “lifting the veil” to clarify to students the intent and rationale behind your course policies and course structure. Being open and transparent with students about your pedagogical processes helps to build trust, which is a key element for learning and risk-taking in the classroom.



Addy, T., Dube, D., Mitchell, K. A., SoRelle, M. E., Longmire-Avital, B., & Felten, P. (2021). What inclusive instructors do : principles and practices for excellence in college teaching. Stylus Publishing.

Eddy, A. & Hogan, K. (2014). Getting under the hood: how and for whom does increasing course structure work? CBE Life Sciences Education, 13(3), 453–468.

Gurung, R. A. R., & Galardi, N. (2022). Syllabus tone, more than mental health statements, influence intentions to seek help. Teaching of Psychology, 49(3), 218–223.

Jordan, J. & Schwartz, H. L. (2018). Radical Empathy in Teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2018 (153), 25–35.

Westman, L. (2021). Teaching with Empathy: How to Transform Your Practice by Understanding Your Learners. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.


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