Developing a Sound Course: The Syllabus

Here are some suggestions to think about when creating a syllabus.

First, how do you view a syllabus? Is it a contract between you and your students? It is a working document with multiple revisions? Or is it something that is only looked at occasionally and not valued by students? A sound syllabus can be one of the most valuable pieces of information an instructor has at his or her disposal. Not only is it an outline of your course, it introduces yourself to your students, and it can also serve as the foundation to keep your students connected to course material in between classes. The syllabus often becomes the most referenced document your students have.
Format and structure are other consideration to think about when creating a syllabus. Some institutions have a template to follow or information that is required for all syllabi. In addition some institutions may have special requirements for syllabi (i.e., having your syllabus posted electronically or reviewed by the program director). If you are working for an institution for the first time it is beneficial to inquiry about such policies.
It may be beneficial for you to look at all the syllabi you have and think about what you think is important to include before examining the list below. Perhaps examine your syllabi with an outsider perspective. If you knew nothing about this course, what would you know after reading the syllabus? This technique may provide you with additional insight as to how your students will view your teaching and course. To complete this exercise jot down what you learned and compare your syllabus items to the ones below. 

Possible items to be included on a syllabus
• Course information (prefix, number, section, day and time, start and finish date, credit hour, prerequisite, etc)
• Instructor and TA/GA information (how are students to address and contact you)
• Required books/materials and recommended books/materials
• Course description and course objectives (It can also include program goals so students can see how course material integrates with program goals)
• Class schedule (including readings, homework, class activities, and assignments)
• A description of each assignment, how it meets the course objectives, how much it is worth, and when it is due.
• Attendance policy
• Class website or course management tool information (Desire 2 Learn, Blackboard, WebCT, etc) if applicable
• Policy on Academic Honesty and Integrity
• Policy on Accommodations
• A list of other campus services (Counseling center, Academic Success, Wellness. Etc)
• A statement stating your syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.
• A Statement on Student Participation and Professional Behavior (see below for an example)

It is recognized that many students are employed, have families, and are continuing their education.  While understanding this, the first priority of the university is to assure that each student leaves this program with the knowledge and skills required of a graduate level rehabilitation counselor.  These skills are essential for future employment and are expected by future clients. 
In addition, most professionals in this field are expected to develop and maintain networks of resources to assist in providing quality services.  This development should begin during the educational process and can involve developing peer groups/study groups with fellow students/colleagues.
To assist with professional development, course expectations include:
• Attendance and punctuality that is consistent with class requirements.
• Submitting all work/assignments at scheduled times.
• Participation in class events/discussions that reflects professional behavior (i.e. showing respect for fellow students and instructors, being attentive, etc.).
• Using APA writing standards and proper grammar on all assignments.
• Maintaining a professional standard for all written and oral assignments.

Last modified: Monday, 29 June 2009, 01:30 PM