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Recommendations for Syllabi

The goal of the syllabus is to summarize the course content, set policies for the course, and set expectations for students in the course. Syllabi vary greatly in content and length, but good examples usually include the following sections:

  • Course number, title and credit in hours
  • Instructor and/or TA’s preferred contact information, including office hours
  • Course meeting time and place
  • Contact hours – It is customary for courses to meet 14 to 20 contact hours per semester for each hour of credit earned. (Example: a traditional 3 credit-hour course usually meets 3 times a week for 50 minutes each session resulting in 43 total contact hours for the semester.) This ratio should be observed for organized instruction, which excludes laboratory, independent study, special problems, and thesis research courses. A ‘contact hour’ is equal to 50 minutes of instruction.
  • Prerequisites for the course
  • Course description
  • Goals for the course
  • Student learning objectives (Upon completion of this course, students will be able to….)
  • Expectations: If the instructor has any strong concerns, policies or expectations, they are best included here, i.e. readings must be done before the class meets, tardiness is frowned upon, electronic use, etc.
  • Lists of texts and readings
  • List of content/topics by class meeting date
  • Descriptions, expectations and instructions for assignments and exams
  • Due dates for assignments and projects, exam dates
  • If variable credit is offered, what are the extra requirements/expectations, and how they will be accounted for in the final grade.
  • How grades are determined in as much detail as possible (number of assignments, exams, class participation; % of the total grade for each or points for each; a scale of final grades, A=90%, or at some indication of how that will be calculated; it’s ok to say "..the scale will be adjusted, but in the past 87=A+,....," etc.)
  • Policies about absences and make-ups and late assignments
  • Academic Integrity Statement
  • Students with Disabilities Statement
  • Emergency Response Recommendations
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Statement

 

A sample format can be found here as a Word document.

 

The Center for Teaching Excellence offers resources that provide advice and information to help to create a well-organized syllabus.