SoTL in 10 minutes
The Many Purposes of Course Syllabi: Which are Essential
SB Fink, Syllabus 1:1 (2012)
almost universal agreement on the need for a syllabus in college courses, what
actually constitutes a syllabus – content, format, and function – remains
unclear. This lack of consensus may derive from the need of the syllabus to
fulfill multiple purposes and to satisfy multiple constituents. (Doolittle
& Siudzinsla, 2010, p. 30)
The Two-Purpose Syllabus: A Blueprint for Faculty and
Schreyer Institute for Teaching
Excellence at Penn State
think of a syllabus as the document that contains all of the information
pertaining to our course. However, the syllabus can actually serve two
purposes: A blueprint for you as you plan your course and a blueprint for your
students that can act as an advanced organizer and means of communication
containing the course objectives, schedule of topics, assignments, assessments,
and the grading policy for the course. Regardless of the function, a syllabus
should reflect a conversational tone as it shows the students and others how
the course and its material are relevant.
How to write a syllabus?
For many of
you, cut and paste works just fine – don’t forget to change the date. But
consider starting from scratch, review syllabi from other sources, follow the
link below and shake things up a bit. Your syllabus doesn’t need to be
all the things outlined in the link below – but when was the last time you
evaluated what your syllabus did need to be for you and your students?
Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation
Evaluating your syllabus
decide which would be more helpful first – yesterday’s “How to write a
syllabus” or today’s link “Evaluating your syllabus”. Either way,
consider NOT taking the easy way out and upgrade your syllabi for this fall.
Institute for Teaching Excellence
Things to include
important information for your students – consider putting it in your syllabus
and/or on your course Bb page.
For Fall 2014
- Mid-term grading, October 8-15
- Last day to drop, Friday 8/29
- Last day to withdraw, Friday 10/31
your student know the difference between drop and withdraw?
- Final Exam Schedule
- Counseling center – Chapel, x7180
- ADA compliance – Dr. Kristi Gover, 3rd floor
- Advising Center – 1st floor Howard, x7170
- Athletic advising – Chris Johnson, x7794
- Tutoring & Learning Center – 3rd floor Swisher
- Student Solutions Center – 2nd floor DSC, x7700
- Writing Center – Council 143, x7353
about your academic advisor, coach, professor you like, mom and dad.
Getting your target audience to read your syllabus
It is the
first day of class and you have spent a lot of time updating your syllabus for
student success. You could stand at the front of the room and read the
document AT them. OR:
- Get them into groups and have them identify
questions they have about the course. Candy for novel questions not
actually addressed in your syllabus.
- Turn your syllabus into a game of Jeopardy or
other quiz show – again, candy for correct answers.
review the attached article for more first day ideas:
syllabus, see you next week: A review of the first day practices of outstanding
Bardsley and Foote
of Effective Teaching, 10(2): 29-41, 2010