3.4: Inclusive Course Design to Nurture Leadership and Management Competencies

Xinli Wang

Workshop Introduction

Traditionally math courses focus on technical competence for engineering students. We believe leadership and management skills are essential for future engineers and the broader student body, so we investigated a set of practices that stem from principles of inclusive course design, and discovered that these elements not only help making the course more accessible, they also trained our students to master skills that are critical for them to develop leadership and management competencies such as community building, problem solving with others, listening, self-regulation and empathy. In this workshop, I will be discussing inclusive course design ideas that focus on community building, and nurturing students’ leadership and management competencies.

Presenter: Xinli Wang

Xinli Wang is an instructor at the Department of Mathematics, University of Manitoba. She started her math teaching career in Singapore, 2012. She taught at a few colleges in Ontario, while teaching part-time at University of Toronto for 4 years before moving to Winnipeg. Xinli is passionate about Open Education Resources, Open Education practices and Open Pedagogy. Her education research interests include active learning, inquiry-based learning and learning community. She’s an advocate of #ungrading and is currently doing mastery-based grading for her multivariable calculus course.


The content shown is taken from a seminar recording presented by Xinli Wang with an accompanying PowerPoint. If you wish to access the full PowerPoint presentation, please click the on the link provided below which will take you to a google drive folder.

Key Takeaways

  • Course design is important to student learning, but it can often overlook factors such as a student’s access to resources. No matter how well designed a course is, students unable to access live lectures due to poor internet connectivity, or students unable to get online information easily due to lack of a computer, will suffer due to an online course format.
  • In an online learning environment, it is important to think about what your priorities as a teacher are for your students. Perhaps getting through all of the learning objectives should come second to ensuring students feel safe and included in their learning environments, especially when in different learning formats. Factors like this can help in fostering a sense of community, tangentially bettering their learning ability.
  • An easy first step to ensure students feel included, and to check if students have the resources required to perform their best, is to survey students with simple questions. If students do respond by saying that they lack the means to acquire laptops or better internet connections, be sure to connect them with resources that may be able to help them on campus, such as student financial aid.
  • It is also important to be flexible with students, and to be willing to accommodate their requests. By providing alternative means of assignment submission, or even exam grading, such as booking an oral exam instead of a written one, students will be more motivated to perform tasks that suit them better. Providing activities that may afford students bonus marks is also a good method of increasing participation, and helping students feel rewarded for doing more learning.