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Center for Faculty Development

Approaching Policies through an Inclusive Lens

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Policies provide a framework of consistency and transparency for the class. How can you build policies that allow for instructor expectations and flexibility for unexpected situations? Some suggestions include:

  • clearly state and share communication expectations
  • consistently follow the policies outlined
  • provide a rationale for each policy
  • incorporate flexibility for unexpected situations


    1. Consider language that is student friendly, and accessible to all. For example, faculty include office hours on their syllabus, however, first generation students and many others may interpret this as time that faculty work in their office. Instead, try renaming office hours to student hours and describe the purpose of the office hours.
    2. Think about shifting language from “I expect” to “you will,” “you can,” or “our goals in this class” and shift from negative to positive connotation throughout the syllabus. Oftentimes, syllabi and policies can feel legalistic and cold. If the language is written in an accessible and warm tone, the students will perceive the intended support and approachability of the faculty member.

Attendance Policies

    1. Consider how attendance is connected to class participation. Is it a check list? Or is there an activity in class that impacts participation points? What are the processes in place for excused or unexcused absences? 
    2. Provide a rationale for the policy and connect it to the student learning of the course.
    3. Examples

Late Work

    1. Consider ways to incentivize prompt submission (or early submission) rather than punish late work. An example is a grace period, provide a due date and a secondary due date that accounts for a grace period. Provide 5 additional points (or something similar) to assignments submitted by the early due date. 
    2. Provide routes for students to connect with the instructor and claim a “ticket” or a “No Questions Asked Pass” to submit work late (within a week time period). In other words, all students receive 2 late submissions. Students should email the instructor to claim this late submission and thus, no late deduction will be taken. 
    3. Avoid allowing students to wait until the end of the semester to submit all assignments. This does not support time management for students for completing assignments or faculty for grading. 
    4. Samples

Timeline and Revisions

    1. Build timelines into your course for re-submissions of revised work. Approach it through the lens of applying feedback as opposed to a punitive consequence.
    2. Emphasize growth mindset as it relates to revisions. Communicate the importance of feedback to students on their work and the application of the feedback.
    3. Provide a timeframe for accepting revisions and be transparent about the kind of feedback a student can expect. For example, earlier assignments may have more detailed feedback than later assignments.
    4. Remind students that while flexibility can be implemented throughout the semester at the instructors’ discretion, the submission date for final grades is not flexible and is set by the university.


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