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<p>We examined how students' perceptions of an instructor's empathy are influenced by course policies. Students (N = 132) read 5 syllabus excerpts. They were randomly assigned to one of two versions of descriptions of assignment, inclusive excellence, and accommodation policies and to one of three versions of exam and late work policies. In some treatment conditions, the policy built in flexibility or second chances; in some, a rationale for the policy was provided; in some the policy was described in first rather than third-person. Students rated their perceptions of teacher empathy after reading each excerpt. Building in flexibility or second chances increased empathy ratings of late work and exams. Explaining the rationale behind a policy increased empathy for assignments and exams, but did not affect empathy ratings for late work policies. Using the instructor's point of view, rather than the institution's, increased empathy ratings for statements of inclusive excellence and accommodations. These results suggest instructors can use the syllabus as an impression management tool to communicate teacher empathy, a characteristic linked to student learning.</p>
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