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The What and Why of a Syllabus

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NAVIGATING CONTEXT
The What and Why of a Syllabus

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Author :
Patti Stewart
The What and Why of a Syllabus

PS Contact profile image
Author :
Patti Stewart

The purpose of a syllabus is NOT a contract, but instead:

  • A marketing document
  • An introduction to a course and its instructor
  • A ‘map’ to the course including:
    • expectations
    • requirements 
    • conditions of engagement
    • how to be successful
Key elements of a syllabus include:
  • Instructional objectives
  • Instructor contact information
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Expectations of students
  • Important due dates
  • Required and recommended materials
  • Required proctoring arrangements

Important syllabus statements and reminders:

Include Course Objectives:
  • Must be consistent with University-approved course description found in MSU Descriptions of Courses catalog
  • Make them clear
  • Focus on a product/outcome, not a process
  • State each as single outcome
  • Personal learning goals
And of course, you need to cover how grading and evaluation will be approached:
  • Be explicit about how students will be evaluated
  • Share rubrics or grading criteria
  • Remind students of approaching deadlines frequently
  • Participation expectations
  • Include resources that may help
  • Primer on effective study skills
  • Reading critically/effectively
  • Writing tips
Remember, your syllabus is your opportunity to set the tone for your course. Make sure to include:
  • Office hours, offer other options to meet student needs
  • Set reasonable boundaries
  • Can be friendly/conversational and also set high expectations
  • Convey your passion about the subject

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Makena Neal #iteachmsu