Teaching Strategies

Sample Syllabus Statements

The syllabus is often students’ first introduction to a course and to their instructor and as such plays a significant role in shaping students’ expectations. This page provides sample syllabus statements on a wide variety of policies and values faculty may want to emphasize to their students. These are meant to provide a range of examples that instructors can edit and adapt as they see fit.

Accessibility and Accommodations

If you have a disability and will be requesting accommodations for this course, please register with either Dr. Kathy Duggan (dugganka@bc.edu), Associate Director, Connors Family Learning Center (learning disabilities or AHD) or Dean Rory Stein, (rory.stein@bc.edu), Assistant Dean for students with disabilities, (all other disabilities).

Advance notice and appropriate documentation are required for accommodations. (Boston College’s Disability Services Office)

I am committed to supporting the learning of all students in my class. Students seeking accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at 617-552-3470 or by visiting http://www.bc.edu/offices/dos/subsidiary_offices/disabilityservices.html. (adapted from St. Olaf College)

I am committed to supporting the learning of all students in my class. If you have already registered with Disability Services Office and have your letter of accommodations, please meet with me early in the course to discuss, plan, and implement your accommodations in the course. If you have or think you have a disability please contact the Disability Services Office at 617-552-3470. (adapted from St. Olaf College) ​

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Services Office (DSO), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DSO, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact Dean Rory Stein, (rory.stein@bc.edu), Assistant Dean for Students with Disabilities.

DSO offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DSO.  It is the policy and practice of Boston College to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. (adapted from the University of Washington)

Commitment to Inclusion

It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups. In addition, if any of our class meetings conflict with your religious events, please let me know so that we can make arrangements for you.  (University of Iowa College of Education)

COURSE TITLE is a combined lecture and discussion course. This means that, in part, all students are responsible for contributing to both their own learning experience and the learning experience of others. Because the contribution of ideas from each student is critical to the learning process, any behavior that makes other students feel uncomfortable in their learning environment will not be tolerated. This includes interrupting others while they are talking, carrying on conversations separate from the class discussion, or making comments that could be perceived as offensive in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, nationality, social-economic status, ability, etc. Please make every effort to maintain an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing and responding to ideas. (Resources for Gender-Inclusive Language in the Classroom 3 CITL Presentation, March 15, 2016)

Human connection is the heart of a modern liberal arts education. We can’t learn without you. Arrive prepared and ready to think out loud and share confusions. Class meetings involve discussions in a variety of formats, some experimental and perhaps unfamiliar. These varied structures enable different forms of thinking and analysis; they also accommodate diverse personalities and learning styles. In all settings, collaborate thoughtfully and respectfully with your peers. When you disagree with or don’t understand something you hear, ask questions. Your peers’ questions are as important as mine, so listen carefully.

In our structured and unstructured discussions and dialogues, we also will have many opportunities to explore some challenging issues and increase our understandings of different perspectives. Our conversations may not always be easy; we sometimes will make mistakes in our speaking and our listening; sometimes we will need patience or courage or imagination or any number of qualities in combination to engage our texts, our classmates, and our own ideas and experiences. Always we will need respect for others. Thus, an additional aim of our course necessarily will be for us to increase our facility with the sometimes difficult conversations that arise as we deepen our understandings of multiple perspectives – whatever our backgrounds, experiences, or positions. (Alisse Portnoy, Introductory-level English class, University of Michigan)

Respect for diversity: It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well- served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that the students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally, or for other students or student groups.

Important Note: Given the sensitive and challenging nature of the material discussed in class, it is imperative that there be an atmosphere of trust and safety in the classroom. I will attempt to foster an environment in which each class member is able to hear and respect each other. It is critical that each class member show respect for all worldviews expressed in class. It is expected that some of the material in this course may evoke strong emotions, please be respectful of others’ emotions and be mindful of your own. Please let me know if something said or done in the classroom, by either myself or other students, is particularly troubling or causes discomfort or offense. While our intention may not be to cause discomfort or offense, the impact of what happens throughout the course is not to be ignored and is something that I consider to be very important and deserving of attention. If and when this occurs, there are several ways to alleviate some of the discomfort or hurt you may experience:

  1. Discuss the situation privately with me. I am always open to listening to students’ experiences, and want to work with students to find acceptable ways to process and address the issue.
  2. Discuss the situation with the class. Chances are there is at least one other student in the class who had a similar response to the material. Discussion enhances the ability for all class participants to have a fuller understanding of context and impact of course material and class discussions.
  3. Notify me of the issue through another source such as your academic advisor, a trusted faculty member, or a peer. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable discussing the issue directly with me, I encourage you to seek out another, more comfortable avenue to address the issue. (Brown University)

In an ideal world, science would be objective. However, much of science is subjective and is historically built on a small subset of privileged voices. I acknowledge that the readings for this course, including the course reader and BCP were authored by white men. Furthermore, the course often focuses on historically important neuroscience experiments which were mostly conducted by white men. Recent edits to the course reader were undertaken by both myself and some students who do not identify as white men. However, I acknowledge that it is possible that there may be both overt and covert biases in the material due to the lens with which it was written, even though the material is primarily of a scientific nature. Integrating a diverse set of experiences is important for a more comprehensive understanding of science. Please contact me (in person or electronically) or submit anonymous feedback if you have any suggestions to improve the quality of the course materials.

Furthermore, I would like to create a learning environment for my students that supports a diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities (including race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, ability, etc.) To help accomplish this:

If you have a name and/or set of pronouns that differ from those that appear in your official Boston College records, please let me know!

If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please don’t hesitate to come and talk with me. I want to be a resource for you. Remember that you can also submit anonymous feedback (which will lead to me making a general announcement to the class, if necessary to address your concerns).

I (like many people) am still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If something was said in class (by anyone) that made you feel uncomfortable, please talk to me about it. (Again, anonymous feedback is always an option). (Brown University)

ESL Students

Boston College welcomes students from around the world and recognizes the unique perspectives international students bring enrich the campus community. To empower students whose first language is not English, Boston Colleges makes ESL specific resources available on campus, including ESL writing support and conversation appointments through the Connors Family Learning Center. To schedule an appointment call 617-552-0611. A curated list of web resources is also available through the CFLC website. (adapted from Brown University)

LGBQT+ And Nonsexist Language

This course affirms people of all gender expressions and gender identities. If you prefer to be called a different name than what is on the class roster, please let me know. Feel free to correct me on your preferred gender pronoun. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. (St. Olaf)

I am firmly committed to diversity and equality in all areas of campus life, including specifically members of the LGBTQ community. In this class I will work to promote an anti-discriminatory environment where everyone feels safe and welcome. I recognize that discrimination can be direct or indirect and take place at both institutional and personal levels. I believe that such discrimination is unacceptable and I am committed to providing equality of opportunity for all by eliminating any and all discrimination, harassment, bullying, or victimization. The success of this policy relies on the support and understanding of everyone in this class. We all have a responsibility not to be offensive to each other, or to participate in, or condone harassment or discrimination of any kind. (California State University, Chico)

Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.” (Texas A&M)

Knowing and applying the names and pronouns that students wish to use is a crucial part of developing a productive learning environment that fosters safety, inclusion, personal dignity, and a sense of belonging across campus. Please let me know your preferred name and pronoun anytime throughout the semester. (University of the Pacific)

Class rosters and University data systems are provided to faculty with the student’s legal name and legal gender marker. As a faculty member, I am committed to using your proper name and pronouns. We will take time during our first class together to do introductions, at which point you can share with all members of our learning community what name and pronouns you use, as you are comfortable. Additionally, if these change at any point during the semester, please let me know and we can develop a plan to share this information with others in a way that is safe for you. (Northern Illinois University)

Language is gender-inclusive and non-sexist when we use words that affirm and respect how people describe, express, and experience their gender. Just as sexist language excludes women’s experiences, non-gender-inclusive language excludes the experiences of individuals whose identities may not fit the gender binary, and/or who may not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Identities including trans, intersex, and genderqueer reflect personal descriptions, expressions, and experiences. Gender-inclusive/non-sexist language acknowledges people of any gender (for example, first year student versus freshman, chair versus chairman, humankind versus mankind, etc.). It also affirms non-binary gender identifications, and recognizes the difference between biological sex and gender expression. Students, faculty, and staff may share their preferred pronouns and names, and these gender identities and gender expressions should be honored.(University of Pittsburgh)

Mental Health and Wellness

If you find yourself struggling with your mental or physical health this semester, please feel free to approach me. I will try to be flexible and accommodating. You can also find free, confidential mental health services at University Counseling Services by calling (617) 552-3310. (adapted from Northwestern University)

Life at college can get very complicated. Students sometimes feel overwhelmed, lost, experience anxiety or depression, struggle with relationship difficulties or diminished self- esteem. However, many of these issues can be effectively addressed with a little help. University Counseling Services (UCS) helps students cope with difficult emotions and life stressors. UCS is staffed by experienced, professional psychologists and counselors, who are attuned to the needs of college students. The services are free and completely confidential. Find out more at www.bc.edu/offices/counseling/or by calling (617) 552-3310.  (adapted from Illinois State University)

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance.

Boston College provides mental health services to support the academic success of students. University Counseling Services offers free, confidential psychological services to help you manage personal challenges that may threaten your well-being.

In the event I suspect you need additional support, I will express my concerns and the reasons for them, and remind you of resources (e.g., Counseling Services, Career Services, Dean of Students, etc.) that might be helpful to you.  It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available.

Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do — for yourself and for those who care about you. (adapted from Ithaca College)

Religious Accommodation

University policy grants students excused absences from class or other organized activities or observance of religious holy days, unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship. You must notify me by the end of the first week of classes if you have any conflicts that may require an absence. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with me in advance to make up any missed work or in-class material.(University of Denver)

Technology in the Classroom

You are welcome to use a laptop or tablet in this class as long as it contributes to your learning. This class, once again, is discussion based. This means that all students are expected to actively listen to one another in order to participate in classroom activities. If you are unable to contribute to the discussion or are otherwise distracted by your computer, cell phone, or tablet, I will ask that you refrain from using it in class. There will be some class sessions where we will use technology together, and in those instances, all students should make arrangements to bring a laptop or tablet to class. If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch with me. (University of Chicago syllabus)

You may use laptops or tablets in this class to consult online readings or to take notes. However,any other use of these devices and the use of cell phones is strictly prohibited. Place your phone on mute before you come to class. Violating this policy will negatively impact your participation grade. (University of Pennsylvania)

Access to the Internet can be a valuable aid to the classroom learning environment. You may be encouraged to use a laptop, smart phone, or other device to explore concepts related to course discussions and in-class activity. Keep in mind, however, that these technologies can be distracting – not only for you, but to others in the class. Please avoid the temptation of Facebook, texting, or other off-topic diversions.(University of Denver)

I know many of you read online or take notes on your laptops or tablets, however, electronics are a major distraction in class and disrupt class discussion. There is literature that supports this claim, one of which includes: Fried, C.B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50(3), 906-914. But, because we often read online, I will allow them. However, if I find they become distracting, I hold the right to disallow them in class.

In this vein, I would strongly suggest you print out the PDF and online readings, and bring your books to class. I would also urge you to come to class with written notes on the readings or typed notes on your laptop or tablet. If printing is an issue, please talk to me! (Brown University course on “Racial and Ethnic Politics and Policy in America,” taught by Yalidy Matos)

A note on cell phones, texting, and checking one’s email during class: Research has shown us that even having our cell phones on the table in front of us diminishes our ability to learn well; further, taking notes via computer diminishes one’s ability to process information. Checking texts, emails, and messages is also unprofessional and disrespectful to our class community. Please turn o your phone, email, and computer during class; I will do so as well. I appreciate your cooperation with this important aspect of creating a class of which we all want to be a part. (Yale University)

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. I also have a mandatory reporting responsibility related to my role as a faculty member. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work, and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep information you share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I am required to share information regarding sexual misconduct or information about a crime that may have occurred on Boston College’s campus with the University. Students may speak to someone confidentially by contacting the Sexual Assault Network (SANet) at 617-552-2211 or by going to the Women’s Center (Maloney 441) Care Team Drop-In Hours which can be found at https://www.bc.edu/offices/wc/SANet/Find_Support.html. (adapted from Purdue University)

In the event that you choose to write or speak about having survived sexualized violence, including rape, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, Boston College policies require that, as your instructor, I share this information with Melinda Stoops, Boston College’s Title IX Coordinator. Melinda will contact you to let you know about accommodations and support services at Boston College as well as options for holding accountable the person who harmed you. You are not required to speak with her.

If you do not want the Title IX Coordinator notified, instead of disclosing this information to me, you can speak confidentially with the following people on campus and in the community. They can connect you with support services and help explore your options now, or in the future.

  • BC’s Sexual Assault Network, available 24/7 at 617-552-2211
  • Women’s Center (Maloney 441) Care Team Drop-In Hours. The hours for the semester can be found at https://www.bc.edu/offices/wc/SANet/Find_Support.html.
  • University Counseling Services at 617-552-3310
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), available 24/7 at 800-841-8371
  • Fenway Health, a LGBTQ+ focused care center, available at 617-927-6250

If you are a survivor or someone concerned about a survivor and need immediate information on what to do, please go to https://www.bc.edu/offices/wc/SANet/Find_Support.html (adapted from Purdue University)

Boston College is committed to upholding standards that promote respect and human dignity in an environment that fosters academic excellence and professionalism.  Sexual misconduct and relationship violence in any form are antithetical to the university’s mission and core values, violate university policies, and may also violate federal and state law.  Faculty members are considered “Responsible Employees” and are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct and relationship violence.  If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking or sexual exploitation, please visit https://www.bc.edu/offices/wc/SANet/Find_Support.html to access information about university support and resources. (Adapted from the University of San Diego)  

Course Recordings & Privacy

Online synchronous class sessions (e.g., via Zoom) will be recorded at the discretion of the professor. The purpose of this is to provide access to material for students enrolled in this class who miss the session for some reason, such as an excused absence or an unanticipated problem with internet connectivity. In addition, these recordings can be a resource for all students who would like to review the material of the session. All recordings will be stored within the Canvas site and will only be available to view by members of this course. (Adapted from Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College)

This class or portions of this class will be recorded by the instructor for educational purposes. These recordings will be shared only with students enrolled in the course and will be deleted at the end of the end of the semester. Your instructor will communicate how you can access the recordings. (Adapted from Northwestern University)