Developing Your Syllabus
Your syllabus will probably be five to eight pages long. Longer than that is probably overkill; shorter than that, you may miss something important. However, the standards for syllabi vary by discipline, so you may want to see what your colleagues have developed.
Consider a beginning and an end for your syllabus
At the beginning of your syllabus, use a quotation from a leading expert to capture the major themes and tone of the course.
Example: “Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.”― John Dewey
End your syllabus with a concluding personal note.
Example: "Most importantly, please be assured that I want students to learn and to receive the good grades they deserve. So please make an appointment with me should you have undue difficulty with your work in the course."
Provide details about assignments, readings, grading policies, attendance, course goals and other information and expectations. Include things such as due dates, page length/word counts, and samples. If you want to hold onto details until you give an assignment, let students know that in the syllabus to ease their anxieties.
Maintain a friendly tone
Don’t frighten students with excessive warnings or threats. Clearly present your policies in a direct but friendly tone to make students comfortable from the start.
Review the syllabus on the first day of class
Discuss the syllabus during your first class. Even when your policies are carefully stated, students will often need clarification and will appreciate your openness in discussing your rationale. In some cases, their questions may lead to a beneficial exchange about course goals and philosophies.
Make sure to include these key sections
- Course information
- Instructor contact information
- Course description and overview
- Textbooks and other course materials
- University, College, and/or Department Policies
- Teaching philosophy/strategies
- Your expectations from students
- What students can expect from you
- Course schedule
- Grading policy and criteria