Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

writing an effective syllabus

Ice cream scooper scoops strawberry ice cream

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

Read More »
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. 

Read More »
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.

Read More »
classroom management advice

Advice for Teachers: Dare to Be Strict

In “Good Teaching as Vulnerable Teaching” (The Teaching Professor, December 2012), Rob Dornsife of Creighton University invites us to embrace the uncertainties teachers encounter. The article prompted me to invite colleagues also to embrace being strict when the conditions warrant it.

Read More »
Writing an effective syllabus

As You’re Preparing the Syllabus . . .

The “find and replace” feature in Word quickly makes an old syllabus ready for a new course. Use it too many times and thinking about the course settles into a comfortable rut. Yes, we may change more than just the dates, but when was the last time we considered something beyond what needs to go on the syllabus? The literature answers that question with a few definitive conclusions and a host of possibilities. Here are some thoughts, offered with just a bit of provocation, in the hopes they might reenergize our thinking about the syllabus and what it can accomplish in the course, for students and for the teacher.

Read More »