Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

syllabus

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Syllabi: Best Practices or Just Best Guesses?

Syllabi are a frequent subject of education research. Over the last decade, researchers have measured and assessed student responses to syllabus tone, voice, length, design,

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The Straight Scoop Syllabus

There is no shortage of professorial eye rolling when it comes to the subject of students and syllabi. Students might read the syllabus, but they typically

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Syllabus and curriculum plans drawn out in a notebook

Revisiting the Syllabus

The syllabus—most of us use them, many of our students don’t read them.  We wondered if this venerable artifact of teaching might merit a revisit. 

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syllabus review exercise

Empathetic Syllabi Review Exercise

“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. 

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Professor smiling in class

Tonic for the Boring Syllabus

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.

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