Syllabus Development

The course syllabus is one of the central artifacts of higher education. It is a critical means of communication between teacher and student and is often the first form of interaction. The syllabus can help set the tone, create an inclusive climate, and establish the conditions for learning in the course.

Requirements

In support of students’ access to course expectations and schedules, as well as their ability to track their progress in a class, all RIT faculty are required to post course syllabi and student grades to courses in myCourses (RIT Policy D05.0 – Grades). Course shells open in myCourses two weeks before the official start date of the semester or term. Your syllabus should be available to review as early as possible to enable students to make informed decisions about enrollment. Should you require any assistance in this regard, contact Academic Technology Support at 585-438-5219 or tlssupport@rit.edu.

Online vs. Print

While myCourses allows downloading and printing of static MS Word and PDF versions of syllabi, developing your syllabus in/with myCourses is recommended for several reasons:

  • It will be a dynamic document that can be updated within the course term (students can be automatically notified of any updates) and from one term to another
  • Content is searchable online
  • Supports hyperlinking to other areas of myCourses (assignments, “handouts,” rubrics, grades, resources, etc.) and outside to the internet
  • All or parts of the myCourses-based syllabus can still be printed for students who want hard copies

Templates and Development

RIT does not provide an official template for syllabus development, but CTL does offer an example myCourses-based template for any course mode--in-person, online, or hybrid—that incorporates a conventional Syllabus area with a corresponding Weekly Plans area. Both include templatized and customizable material you can bring into your course and edit. 

Any RIT faculty or teaching staff can request copy access to this template course shell. After requesting access, you can import portions or the entirety of the template into your course shell and use the imported materials to develop your course syllabus. A video tutorial of the template is available.

Getting Started

The Syllabus area of the myCourses course template is organized into the following sections:

  1. Course Information and Expectations
  2. Instructor Contact Information
  3. Course Requirements and Resources
  4. Activities and Assignments
  5. Assessment and Grading
  6. Course Policies
  7. Course Schedule

Much of the information needed for the Course Information and Expectations section—particularly the all-important learning outcomes and assessment methods—should be taken directly from the official Course Outline Form for your assigned course(s). Your department chair or program head can provide you with the form(s) and guidance on what is and is not modifiable in the transition to a course syllabus. If you are designing a new course, however, you will need to successfully complete the RIT course proposal process. 

Before completing the Course Policies section, we encourage you to first consult our companion webpage, RIT Policies for Your Syllabus. The External Resources section (below) provides helpful information, advice, and examples for developing the remaining sections of your syllabus.

Regardless of where you are in the syllabus-design process, you can always request one-on-one consultations with an Instructional Design Researcher and Consultant.