November 3, 2011

Report Uncovers the Hidden Costs of Managing Syllabi

By: in Instructional Design

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How much time do you spend each semester creating, updating or maintaining your course syllabi?

According to a new report released today by the Syllabus Institute, on average instructors spend more than 24 hours creating a new course syllabus. The average instructor also spends 6.5 hours updating their syllabus for a new semester and nearly 3.5 hours maintaining their syllabus throughout a semester.

“Where Does the Budget Go? Uncovering the Hidden Costs of Managing Syllabi” reflects data gathered from a cross section of students, instructors, technical administrators, and academic administrators from over 50 different United States academic institutions in higher education. Of the 2,633 contacted by email and phone, 155 participants completed the survey.

Despite the small sample size, the findings may cause some institutions to examine their own syllabi management processes, pinpoint areas of improvement, and develop a strategy to streamline the processes and cost of managing syllabi across their institution.

Some of the findings reported by the Syllabus Institute include:

  • A large 4-year school can spend up to $1.5M managing syllabi using current technologies and processes for creating, collecting, printing, distributing, and evaluating syllabi.
  • The average institution spends $272,674 per academic year managing syllabi.
  • Technical administrators report dedicating upwards of 40 hours per semester, and as many as 10 administrators within their department to manage and maintain syllabi.
  • Academic administrators on average spend over 29 hours per semester managing syllabi.
  • The average length of a syllabus is 7.4 pages. Additionally, 50% of the instructors surveyed print an estimated 673 pages of syllabi per semester.
  • Approximately 56% of students want a hard copy of course syllabi, while 44% would prefer to view syllabi online.
  • Forty-eight percent of instructors report that their syllabi was created within the past year, while 7% report that they have been using the same syllabus for more than 15 semesters.
  • Fifty-six percent of instructors reported that they were student advisors. Of these, 61% think that course syllabi being available to students before registering for courses would improve student performance.

“The process of managing syllabi is shared by many and affects every department’s workflow and budget,” said Jennifer Connally, principle researcher of ‘Where Does the Budget Go?’” “By investigating and analyzing how each process is navigated, we have started to uncover areas where improvement can be made, which allows schools to identify areas where immediate action can be taken, and more importantly free up resources.”

To learn more about the Syllabus Institute, visit: www.syllabusinstitute.org. A PDF of the full report, “Where Does the Budget Go?” is available here.

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Comments

Mary Travis, PhD | November 4, 2011

I probably spend about 4 hours on the syllabus itself. I spend most of my time using the syllabus as a scaffold and building new course content into the Blackboard site. Also, taking new material from the site of the textbook and integrating those pieces into the course.

Tired | November 4, 2011

At the end of the course, the Adjunct faculty that is paid 1000 or 2000 USD per the whole course, including writing the syllabus, receives less money/hour than working in a MacDonalds or in a Supermarket picking the shopping cars in the parkway.


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