Syllabus SotL in 10 Minutes

The Many Purposes of Course Syllabi: Which are Essential and Useful?

SB Fink, Syllabus 1:1 (2012)

Despite the 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 Students

Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State

Normally, we 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?

Carnegie Mellon

Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation

Evaluating your syllabus

I couldn’t 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.

Penn State

Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence

Things to include

Some important information for your students – consider putting it in your syllabus and/or on your course Bb page.

For Fall 2016

  • ​Mid-term grading, week of October 12, 2016

  • Last day to drop, Friday 9/2

  • Last day to withdraw, Friday 10/30

    • ​Do your student know the difference between drop and withdraw?

  • ​Counseling center – Chapel, x7180

  • ADA compliance – Dr. Kristi Gover, 3rd floor DSC, x7067

  • Advising Center – 1st floor Howard, x7170

  • Athletic advising – Chris Johnson, x7794

  • Tutoring & Learning Center – 3rd floor Swisher library, x7717

  • Student Solutions Center – 2nd floor DSC, x7700

  • Writing Center – Council 143, x7353

Don’t forget 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:

Please review the attached article for more first day ideas:

Here’s your syllabus, see you next week: A review of the first day practices of outstanding professors

Iannarelli, Bardsley and Foote

The Journal of Effective Teaching, 10(2): 29-41, 2010