This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on March 17, 2017. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. Over the years, course syllabi have evolved from a
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on August 19, 2019. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. Around an image of Yoda’s face, block letters urge,
Almost everyone who has taken a college course is familiar with the genre of the syllabus, or has at least seen one, though the form
My learning edge with teaching has always been organization. I was brimming with enthusiasm about my content area, and my interest in educational psychology had
Can a syllabus get students excited for your course? What will keep students coming back to it? These seven design elements can help students get the most out of your syllabus, prepare them for the course, and focus on the learning goals ahead. My Engaging Syllabus Design: Example illustrates all of these design elements.
“Do you know how much this exam is worth?”
“I can’t find any office hours listed for one of my classes—are there any?.”
“What if I get sick and miss a few classes—will my grade be hurt?”
My answer was the same for all three questions—“I don’t know.” Even though these were my first-year seminar students asking these questions, they were looking at syllabi from their other courses, part of a syllabus review exercise I do each fall with first-time students.
It had happened before, sitting at the computer, working on a syllabus, again, fluctuating between excitement about a new course and a vague sense that life itself was being sucked out of me one sterile byte at a time. I was fighting boredom. And this was supposed to interest students? I tried to imagine it igniting their curiosity, but instead I saw them staring at it with the enthusiasm saved for the fine print on a life insurance policy. But they must read it. It is their life insurance policy for a future full of knowledge and wisdom! It defines how we’re going to relate! As I sat there writing my syllabus I had a vision of the Ferris Bueller video of the professor droning on and on while asking for input: “Anyone? Anyone?” That was not where I wanted to go. I had to stop and rethink what I was doing.