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These guidelines have been developed by the CTL and the Curricular Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate to assist faculty in providing informative and complete syllabi to their students.
On this page:
- Introduction to Syllabus Development
- Syllabus Elements:
- Syllabus Element: Basic Information
- Syllabus Element: Course Description
- Syllabus Element: Schedule
- Syllabus Element: Values and Policies
- Download Template [.doc file]
- Other Syllabus Design Resources
I. Introduction to Syllabus Development
As the initial and primary written communication between faculty and students, an effective syllabus:
- Clarifies the purpose of the course
- Informs students what they will learn in the course (learning objectives)
- Explains expectations for student participation and conduct
- Describes how students can achieve success in the course
- Reinforces institutional values related to student learning
- Provides all logistical course related information
The syllabus can be viewed as a contract between you and your students, conveying your expectations for them and what they can expect of you. In essence, the syllabus reflects the course design process.
Developing an effective syllabus begins with defining the overall purpose of the course and articulating the overarching course goals. Next, think about what knowledge and skills your students should attain by the end of the course. This can be articulated in a list of action statements called learning objectives. Read more about writing learning objectives
Keep in mind that each assignment and assessment should be aligned with these objectives. By providing students with a rationale for each course assignment—how it relates to the learning objectives you've outlined—you give them a meaningful context and an understanding of why the work you are asking them to do matters.
As you think through these course goals and learning objectives, and how these objectives will be achieved and measured by readings, activities, and assessments, you are creating the backbone of the course syllabus.
The syllabus also serves an organizational function. By listing all course logistical information (e.g., instructor contact information, assignments and related due dates, required readings) your students will always know where they can find answers to common questions.
Finally, the syllabus can communicate your particular ground rules for behaviors such as...
as well as institutional values and policies, such as expectations regarding academic integrity and valuing multiple perspectives and origins in the classroom.
- classroom use of cellphones and computers
- leaving the class during session
- how you wish to be addressed
- your attendance policy
Syllabus design is an iterative process. Student feedback, new ideas, different teaching techniques and new technologies pave the way for changes in the design and delivery of the course over time. Reflect on your syllabus regularly!
II. Syllabus Elements:
A. Basic Information
B. Course Description
- Title, course number, section, credit hours
- Semester/year, meeting place and time
- Instructor name, contact info, office hours
- Teaching Assistant name(s), contact info, office hours
C. Schedule - a table or listing:
- Course summary: why the course is important or interesting, how it fits in the context of the discipline
- Learning objectives
- Required texts and/or materials
- Grading criteria and attendance policy
- Classroom environment expectations, e.g. participation expectations, cellphone and computer use policies
- Prerequisite knowledge and competencies required to take the course
D. Values and Policies
- Assignment details with due dates
- Quiz and exam dates
Inclusiveness and Universal Design
- Student Learning Accommodations Statement
In keeping with University policy, any student with a documented disability interested in utilizing accommodations should contact ACCESS, the office of Disability Services on campus. ACCESS works with students to create reasonable and appropriate accommodations via an accommodation letter to their professors as early as possible each semester.
Contact ACCESS: A170 Living/Learning Center - 802-656-7753 - email@example.com
- ACCESS Office: http://www.uvm.edu/~access/
- Policy on disability certification and student support:
- Religious Holiday Policy Statement
Religious Holidays: Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. If you need to miss class to observe a religious holiday, please submit the dates of your absence to me in writing by the end of the second full week of classes. You will be permitted to make up work within a mutually agreed-upon time.
Student Responsibilities and Rights
III. Syllabus Template
This Word document can be used as prompt for developing your syllabus.
Download the document here.
IV. Other Syllabus Design Resources
Resources: McKeachie, Wilbert James,2006, McKeachie's teaching tips : strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers, 12th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company
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