Strategies for Curriculum Development

How do we develop an accessible and anti-racist curriculum?

Based on faculty experiences, faculty can create an accessible and anti-racist curriculum by:

  • Decolonizing the curriculum
  • Constructing an anti-racist syllabus (and deciding when to deviate from a syllabus)
  • Incorporating the universal design of learning
  • Creating equitable assignments and grading models

Decolonizing the curriculum and syllabus

Constructing an anti-racist syllabus combines decolonizing the curriculum and ideas from the universal design of learning.

Additional resources:

Decolonizing the Syllabus

Checklist for Decolonizing the Syllabus: Designing a Diverse and Inclusive Syllabus

The Curriculum

  • Examine your subject to identify which voices and avenues have been marginalized due to colonialism and racism

    • Deliberately discuss the history of the field, including the painful racist portions

    • Include work from marginalized individuals

    • In courses focused on human physiology and psychology, ensure that all backgrounds are represented

      • e.g. display how rashes look on different skin tones

    • Ensure a range of voices and perspectives are represented¬†

      • This includes curating reading lists, textbooks, and other resources that represent a diversity of voices

      • Be mindful of invited guests and ensure that they represent the diversity of your classroom

    • Teach soft skills in the classroom: how to write an email, how to ask questions

      • Students from come all different types of professional backgrounds and not everyone may have been trained in such soft skills. Giving a tutorial on these skills helps bring all students to a similar level.

The Syllabus

  • Make sure your syllabus is formatted in an accessible manner

  • Include a statement with a land acknowledgment and an anti-racist statement

  • Include your pronouns and how you would like students to address you (First name, Professor Last Name, Dr. Last Name)

  • Explain office hours to break down the stigma of attending office hours

  • Consider setting up a flexible attendance policy for classes that require attendance (see next section for more information)

  • Course materials:

    • Provide a variety of course materials to allow for differents forms of representation (textbooks, videos, podcasts)

    • Take into account the costs of course materials and if they might cause a burden to students taking the class

    • Other questions about course materials:

      • Does the course material include scholars from various backgrounds?

  • Ensure that your grading scheme is transparent and clear to students

Incorporating the universal design of learning

The universal design of learning guidelines are providing multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of action and expression. We have broken it down into these three categories, however, keep in mind they often overlap.

For more information visit the USF UDL website.

Multiple means of engagement

  • Choose accessible textbooks (open source if possible or older editions)
  • Provide students with various ways to engage with materials: readings, videos, and presentations
  • Flexible attendance
    • For courses requiring regular attendance, specifically weekly labs
    • Establish reasonable possible number of absences from the individual course
    • Devise a clear policy/policies for these accommodations as appropriate for each course, and then communicate this policy to student
    • Example policy. Credit to Leslie Bach and Leslie King
  • List learning outcomes and objectives for assignments and the course
  • Explain the purpose of assessments (summative vs formative)
  • Use examples which reflect diversity
    • For examples and names used in your lectures, ensure that they represent the diversity of your classroom. For example, showing what rashes look like on different skin tones or highlighting authors from diverse backgrounds

Multiple means of representation

  • Define words and avoid using idioms that not all students will understand
  • Record lectures and provide them to all students
  • Use a microphone in larger lecture halls
  • Create accessible documents and use tools on Canvas to check accessibility issues

Multiples means of action and expression

  • Tests with different question formats, such as:
    • Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, short answer, essay questions
  • Have a mix formative and summative assessments (quizzes, exams)
  • Allow for different ways to complete an assignment
    • Poster presentation, oral presentation, essay
  • Use clicker questions or poll questions

Creating equitable assignments and grading models

  • Allow for different ways to complete an assignment
  • Have a mix of formative and summative assessments. Explain the difference between formative and summative assessments
  • Create exams with different question formats (multiple choice, short answer, essay)
  • Allow additional time for all students if possible