Best Practices for Teaching and
Developed and presented by Diane Henningfeld, Ph.D.
546 N. Scott St.
Adrian, MI 49221
I am available nearly everyday, at your convenience to review, advise, consult, or cheer you on
with your syllabus development.
T. A. Angelo and K.P. Cross, Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College
Teachers, San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1993.
Tim Frusti, “Using Your Syllabus to Simplify Assessment,” November 26, 2007.
J.M Slattery and J.F. Carlson, “Effective Syllabi: Current Best Practices,” College Teaching 53,
Fall 2005, pp. 159-165.
Barbara E. Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson, Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and
Assessment, Jossey Bass, 1998.
This workshop, through lecture, slide presentation,
discussion, and handouts, is designed to acquaint attendees
with best practices in syllabus construction (as supported
by research in teaching and learning), and encourage
faculty to create strong, comprehensive syllabi that
contribute to student learning, faculty organization, a
coherent and cohesive curriculum, and assessment of
course, departmental, and college successes and
• By the end of this session, attendees will be
– Describe the functions and components of an
– Create a syllabus that includes all essential
– Use the syllabus as a teaching tool, structuring
device and assessment resource.
• The College Mission drives the entire college.
• The curriculum embodies the Ribbons of
• Each course should contribute (not in every way,
but in some ways) to the mission and the Ribbons.
• We have the need and desire for a coherent and
Some Background: The 2007
Survey of AC Syllabi
• 61% directly identified learning outcomes
• 51% indirectly identified learning outcomes
• Virtually none aligned course outcomes with
program/department goals or college mission;
• 57% showed multiple measures and strategies for
assessing student learning;
• 76% provided a list of graded assignments and
• 86% assigned weights to assignments and
The Functions of a Syllabus
– Prepares students for your expectations;
– Shows students how they can succeed.
• Offers the Big Picture
• A Road Map of where we’re going and how we’ll
• Keeps faculty on track.
• “Syllabi help us to develop and organize our vision
for the class.” J.M. Slattery
• Gives students a sense of control and the ability to
allocate their time.
• “Students who cannot predict…their professor’s
expectations and behavior may give up and display
signs of learned helplessness.” J.M. Slattery
Evidence I: Teaching Success :
Your syllabus is a document that reveals
• Your concept of your course;
• Your ability to communicate clearly;
• Your ability to organize;
• Your ability to think sequentially and
• Your attitude toward your students and subject;
• Your mastery of course material.
Evidence II: A Contract between
Students and Faculty
Your syllabus is a document that provides
• Articulation of course and college policies;
• Tells students what you expect, what you
want them to learn, and the consequences of
• Tells students what they can expect of you,
Evidence III: External
• Shows how you document student learning in your
• Shows how this course supports the College and
• Shows how this course contributes to outcomes
articulated in the Ribbons of Excellence;
• It is the primary way evaluators know what is
happening in your class.
Components of an Effective
• Course Information • Ways to Meet Learning
• Contact Information Objectives
• Course Description • Grading
• Rationale • Schedule
• Learning Environment and • Motivational Messages
• Support Services and
• Goals/Aims of Course
• Course number, name, semester, year
• Catalogue Description
• Meeting times
• Instructors first and last name
• Preferred method of communication
• Office Hours
• Why this course is offered/required.
• How does this course support the college
and department missions and Ribbons of
Learning Environment and
• Required materials
• Lecture, discussion, small groups?
Goals (Sometimes Called Aims)
• A good start is with Angelo and Cross’s Teaching
• What are the overarching goals you have for the
• Goals are larger, global statements about what you
want your students to get out of your class, skills
you want them to use, habits you want them to
• Goals should explicitly or implicitly be tied to
mission and ribbons.
Learning Objectives (sometimes
• Your objectives are measurable and describe how
your students will meet your goals.
• Formatted as SWBAT
• Action words; avoid “know,” “understand,”
• Should drive the course
• Should be referred to often in class
• Basis of grades: to what extent have students
mastered the stated learning objectives?
Ways to Meet Learning
Objectives, Part I
• Use your course objectives to determine
assignments, not the reverse.
• Assignments can be directly linked to learning
• Your rationale for the assignment is that it helps
students meet the stated learning objectives.
• Assignments should be listed and described.
Ways to Meet Learning
• Describe all the ways students will be able
to show you that they have met the stated
learning objectives: quizzes, tests,
presentations, class participation, etc.
• Provide several different ways students can
meet objectives; “triangulation” will give
you the best picture of student learning
Grading: Part I
List the weight of each component listed above.
List the criteria that will be used for each
component above. (For example, "Student
presentations will be graded using a rubric
attached to this syllabus." "Student
participation will be graded on the number of
times a student raises a question in class, with
an A being achieved by daily participation, a B
by weekly participation, a C by sporadic
participation, D, by attendance in class, and F
by non-attendance in class or sleeping.")
Grading: Part II
Provide, if available, rubrics and/or statements
of grading criteria for each of your learning
objectives and major assignments.
• (These may actually be the same. For
example, if my learning objective is that
"Students will be able to use the vocabulary of
literary analyses," then one of my criteria for
grading a paper in the class would be "Student
uses the language of literary analysis
appropriately and accurately.")
List the grading scale.
Alternatively, if you use a point system, offer an
explanation and examples of how it works.
• Due dates for assignments
• Weekly summary of topics, activities
• Class by class readings, assignments, topics
• All at once, or in segments?
Motivational Messages: Part I
Expectations regarding attendance,
academic honesty, due dates, etc.
Consequences of not meeting these
Motivational Messages: Part II
• Statement of your teaching philosophy.
Why are you here? What do you
believe about teaching undergraduates?
(This is optional, and can be brief.)
• Statement of what students can expect
from you. (Optional, but a good idea.)
Support Services and Campus
• Students with disabilities
• Academic integrity
• Technology use