Creating a University Level Syllabus Dr. Gayle A. Kearns Why An Effective Syllabus? After today’s session, you will be able to: Identify elements that can strengthen a course; and Describe the 15 points for an effective syllabus. Why Do Students Attend College? Get a Better Job 81% Learn about things of interest 75% Make more money 68% Gain a general education 58% Prepare for graduate work 48% Why!! con’t. . . . Meet new people 47% Learn study skills 33% Get away from home 10% Could not get a job 8% Nothing better to do 2% Characteristics of A Good Instructor . . . Ability to be fair and consistent Knowledge of the subject matter (SME) Ability to personalize the instruction Willingness to be flexible Characteristics . . . Ability to reflect a positive attitude-- nods, smiles, humor Skill in establishing definite examination procedures--objective based, instructional sequence Willingness to provide study aids A Good Instructor has the . . . Ability to perceive the material or task from the students’ point of view Ability to ask questions which allow students to think critically Ability to present a clear and concise SYLLABUS!!! What About That First Day of Class?? Be specific! State the name of the course Identify yourself and some credentials Let the students introduce themselves (optional and if possible due to size) That Infamous First Day! Review the syllabus thoroughly (sign) Ask for student questions and/or feedback Review the course outline 15 Points for An Effective Syllabus What is a syllabus? A syllabus is the official document of the course What does it show? It shows what will be required and expected throughout the semester— course work, attendance, participation, etc. An Effective Syllabus . . How does it aide the student? It helps to establish boundaries of what students can expect from their professor/instructor in terms of instructional pace, grading, requirements, and personal interactions Regent’s Policy . . . Oklahoma State Board of Regents state: “a syllabi will be prepared for all courses and filed with the departmental Chairperson and the college Dean. Syllabi will be distributed to students during the first week of class.” A syllabus is a legally binding contract between the professor and the students What to Include on a Syllabus #1 - Name of the Course Identify the name, number, section and meeting times and place An addendum may be the prerequisites required to insure that the student is in the correct sequence of course work #2 - Professor’s Name State your name on the syllabus (in addition to your oral introduction) Professional/educational background Credentials Special interest in the course subject (SME) #3 - Office Hours and Phone/E- Mail/Fax Numbers List office hours and office location (give location markers) List office phone and fax numbers, as well as e-mail address (home numbers are optional and personally not recommended) Encourage students to use office hours (or make appts) #4 - Textbook Information and other Resources Discuss the benefits of the textbook Discuss the strengths of any enhancement resources (self-made packets, manuals, WebCT, etc.) Give a brief bio of the author (optional) #5 - Course Objectives List a performance outcome for the course List all specific course objectives (complete course) Describe what will be learned Discuss the importance of learning this information Relate the importance of this information to the students’ educational objectives #6 - Nature of the Course Discuss the methodologies to be used throughout the course, i.e. lecture, interactive discussion, webct enhancement, projects, service learning Describe the importance of student participation concerning classroom interaction, independent study, lab sessions, service-learning etc. #7 - Course Requirements Be cognizant if it is not stated specifically and accurately in the syllabus, a student who questions (or files a grievance) will have a much better chance in their defense Also, watch undue hardships on students with disabilities--ADA does state that certain concessions must be made--Be Alert and Accommodate!!! Course Requirements, Point #7 Written assignments: State specifically if the written assignments are required, suggested, extra credit State the length expected Identify the acceptable format-- computer-generated, hand-written, MLA, APA More Course Requirements for #7 Tests, quizzes and exams: Be specific on the types--scantron, essay, etc Material to be covered and sources-- study packets, readings Cumulative or not No surprises—test only on identified, measurable information Course Requirements . . Special projects, such as independent/group studies, term papers, oral presentations, book reports, etc Specify length (what counts) Acceptable format--computer generated, handwritten, APA Topical areas to be considered Course Requirements . . Labs: Type of lab--meeting times and locations Lab requirements, present with syllabus or at first lab session Location(s) of lab(s) Support system within lab(s) #8 - Resources, References and Supplies Be specific on the listing of resources, outside readings, bibliographies, visitations, etc Identify supplies required Give specific details on operation of special equipment Point #9 - Grading and Evaluation DO NOT CHANGE THIS DURING THE SEMESTER (if you do have to make changes, insure that everyone receives a revised copy of the syllabus)!! Identify what work will be graded Explain evaluation of assignments— apply rubrics or assessment information to insure clarity Point #9 Explain level of comprehension (give scale for grades) of tests, special projects, assignments Identify what percentage each component contributes to the final grade--tests, quizzes, exams, special projects, labs, attendance, class participation Point #10 - Attendance This is a very big issue/trouble spot on all higher ed campuses There is no formal university policy-- professors set their own Take attendance each class (if possible) Specifically state what your policy is in regard to absences Point #10, con’t. Be specific on how work may be made up in the event of an absence--give an exact time line State what is expected of students who miss class due to extracurricular activities, illness, etc. (remember that school supported activities are to be excused, but the student is responsible for informing you of his/her school activity or sport) Point #11 - Special Accommodations According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the responsibility of each student to notify the University of his/her disability UCO policy states that the following statement should be included in your syllabus: Disability Statement “ADA Statement: The University of Central Oklahoma complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should make their request by contacting Disability Support Services at 974-2549. Point #12 - Fees (optional) Fees are now included with the students tuition statement for extracurricular requirements, such as: A fashion trip to NYC, purchase of a laptop computer, articulation with a professional association which requires a membership Additional fees for the course may not be assessed to the course Point #13 - Drop/Add Policy (Optional) State the university policy on dates to be followed List the last day to withdraw from a class Refer the student to UCONNECT for information on activities on campus, enrollment, grades, etc. Distribute the information that covers this specific point found on the Academic Affairs website Point #14 - Additional Information Other important information students may need to know, such as, other duties you perform (Residency Teacher/Student Teacher supervision, Faculty Senate responsibilities, etc. Use of cell phones, IPODS, pagers and any other electronic devices during class Email requirement, instant messaging Point #14 - continued Other expectations or guidelines for student conduct beyond attendance, i.e., habitual tardiness Be very specific about: plagiarism and academic dishonesty Refer students to the Code of Student Conduct on the website or distribute the information in class the first day Point #15 - Course Outline/Calendar Address all major content areas, objectives for course Include class meetings by date, topics/chapters to be discussed Address dates for quizzes, exams, mid- term and final dates Due dates for homework assignments, special projects, term papers, etc. (be specific) In Summary An effective syllabus will establish boundaries for student expectation!! An effective syllabus will protect you, the professor, by validating what is expected throughout the semester in terms of course requirements!!