Syllabus Statement for Instructors

 

Accommodations Statement (Sample) for Course Syllabi

Memorial University is committed to creating and sustaining equitable and inclusive learning opportunities for all students. This includes the provision of formal academic accommodations for students with disabilities.

To this end, the university calendar (§6.7.2) outlines a requirement for instructors to include in their syllabus (among other key elements) “a statement of Memorial University of Newfoundland’s commitment to the accommodation of students with disabilities”. This commitment is shared amongst all stakeholders including students, staff, faculty and Accessibility Services (Blundon Centre).

To assist instructors with including this statement, Accessibility Services (Blundon Centre) has created a sample accommodation statement to include in course syllabi. Instructors are encouraged to use or adapt this sample statement and share it with colleagues.

Sample Accommodation Statement:

“Memorial University of Newfoundland is committed to fostering equitable and accessible learning environments for all students. Accommodations for students with disabilities are provided in accordance with the Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy (www.mun.ca/policy/site/policy.php?id=239) and its related procedures. Students who feel that they may require formal academic accommodations to address barriers or challenges they are experiencing related to their learning are encouraged to contact Accessibility Services (the Blundon Centre) at the earliest opportunity to ensure any required accommodations are provided in a timely manner. You can contact Accessibility Services (Blundon Centre) by emailing blundon@mun.ca.”

Additional elements to consider adding to your syllabus

In addition to adding an Accommodations statement, there are additional elements of your syllabus that you could consider adding that may help articulate your commitment to, and consideration of, equity and accessibility in the design and delivery of your course(s). Including some of these elements in your syllabus could positively impact creating a more inclusive and accessible learning experience for all students.

Teaching Philosophy

If you have developed a statement of teaching philosophy, adding just a few lines from that document can help students understand a few important things about you as an instructor. A teaching philosophy statement can provide students with insights into the decisions you make when you design your courses, why you choose certain texts or course materials, and how your chosen evaluation methods (i.e., tests, reflections, etc.) positively affect the learning process. This brief statement in your syllabus could outline your beliefs about the instructor-student relationship, or could simply contain an inspirational quote you like in an attempt to help students to learn more about what you value – as an instructor – in the learning environment.

Course Design Considerations

Increasingly, instructors are engaging in research-informed course design methods that allow instructors to make decisions about their courses that are more likely to result in meaningful learning and lasting impacts. A number of instructors are choosing curriculum design frameworks like Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and other frameworks to design courses that are increasingly accessible to a large number of students right from the start. If you have used certain frameworks to inform your curriculum design or teaching practice, consider including a few sentences about this process in your syllabus to let students that you design your course(s) with elements of accessibility and equity in mind. Whether you chose open educational resources (OERs) to decrease the financial burden on students or you provide a variety of assessments methods in order to avoid privileging those students who do really well on tests and exams, students will really appreciate your thoughtfulness and deliberate considerations in designing your course(s).

Here is just one example from an instructor at Memorial:

“Pedagogical Choices for this course (aka my “teaching style”): I personally subscribe to the belief that it does not matter what I do as the instructor, but what you do as a student that has the biggest impact on your learning in the classroom. As such, I attempt to use several active learning strategies to assist you with understanding and making meaning of course material. I rely on small and large group discussions, debates and other active learning methods to assist you with learning course material. For this to work, you will need to read the material before coming to class so you can have meaningful interactions with your group. If you have not read the material, your group will know and may prevent you from engaging in meaningful learning opportunities”.

Informal Student Feedback

While the Course Evaluation Questionnaire (CEQ) process is the university’s formal mechanism through which to collect course-specific feedback from students, instructors often use less formal methods to collect formative feedback from students regarding their experiences throughout the semester. Consider adding a statement in your syllabus outlining the value you put on student feedback and add in a few informal (or perhaps formal) opportunities for students to provide feedback on their experience of your course. For example, try a “Stop, Start, Continue” exercise at the halfway point of the semester.