Creating an Effective Syllabus
A course syllabus fulfills at least three important functions:
- It is an invitation to students to participate in your course by informing them of its rationale, learning outcomes, and content of the course and by providing an overview of the kinds of pedagogy, learning, and participation they can expect.
- By clarifying expectations and responsibilities, it serves as a type of contract between you and your students. It documents expectations for assignments, assessments, grade allocations, and student responsibilities.
- It is the reference document for the course to which students can refer for logistical information including the course schedule, office hours, required materials, and services available to them.
This page offers some guidelines to help you in constructing and reviewing your syllabus to meet these three functions. In all cases, consult with your Chair to determine if your Department has specific syllabus guidelines.
Structure of a Syllabus: (refer to Syllabus Template in the Sidebar)
Course Name: as listed in the Catalog, e.g. ECO 213. Economics of Social Issues. 3 Credit Hours.
Meeting Times: e.g. TTh 11:00am – 12:15pm
Instructor Contact Information: list your name, office location, email/phone, office hours
Course Description: Minimally, should be identical to that in the Catalog, e.g. “This course introduces students to the basic principles of microeconomics, including the nature and method of economics and the role of the private and government sectors. Emphasis is placed on the firm, market structures, and resource allocation. “
Prerequisites: As appropriate, aligned with Catalog
Course Objectives: Objectives are measurable and observable learning outcomes that are general to the entire course. The course objectives are normally 3–5 broad learning outcomes.
Course Structure: Describe course meeting schedule, deadlines and milestones.
Required and Optional Course Materials: Required and supplementary readings, materials, software, etc.
Student Coursework Requirements: Describe the in-class and out-of class time commitments required by the course, as well as assignments, assessments, and other activities that will contribute to the final grade.
Grading: Provide a detailed explanation of grading policies, including the relationship between numerical grades and letter grades, and how the final grade will be computed.
Help & Support: Identify the various sources for support, including office hours, Centers for Student Success, tutoring, etc.
Policies and Guidelines: State course-specific policies and guidelines (e.g. attendance, participation, etiquette, late assignments, etc.).
Academic Integrity: See http://catalog.bryant.edu/undergraduate/academicregulationsandpolicies/
Policy on Disability Services: See http://www.bryant.edu/academics/undergraduate/disability-services.htm and references therein.
See also the policies and guidelines in the Student Handbook.
- The Learner-Centered Syllabus (learningscientists.org)
- Death to the Syllabus! (AAC&U Liberal Education, Fall 2007, Vol. 93, No. 4)
- Creative Approaches to the Syllabus (Chronicle of Higher Education Blog)
- Writing a Syllabus (From Cornell Center for Teaching and Learning)
- Syllabus Design (from Derek Bok Center for Teaching)
- Nilson, N.B. (2007). The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Preview in Google Books)
- “Your Syllabus Doesn’t Have to Look Like a Contract” – Chronicle Vitae, July 26, 2017
- “How to Create a Syllabus – Advice Guide” – Chronicle of Higher Education Sept 12, 2018
- “Syllabus Construction Tool” from UMass Amherst