Professor smiling in class August 28

Tonic for the Boring Syllabus

By:

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.




a syllabus format that promotes learning April 12

Syllabus Format May Enhance Understanding of Course Requirements

By:

Over the years, course syllabi have evolved from a simple document that outlines course objectives and requirements to an intimidating, multi-paged contract of terms and conditions for successful course completion. A number of writers have proposed syllabus makeovers, including some who’ve suggested the syllabus be offered in newsletter style. Others have proposed quizzing students on the syllabus as a way to encourage them to read it carefully.

We decided to try these two ideas and investigate if they helped students understand four essential course requirements: course objectives, course policies, procedures for late work, and the number of exams. Each of us created one traditional course syllabus and one graphically enhanced syllabus in newsletter format, randomly distributing each type on the first day of class. We quizzed students on the course requirements on the second day of class. Both syllabi contained identical content.

The newsletter syllabi were designed using a newsletter template readily available in word processing programs. The essential elements of the syllabus were placed in boxes, enhanced with graphic elements, and written in different fonts. We tried for designs that highlighted important parts and were graphically pleasing to read.

This is a Teaching Professor Article

To continue reading, you must be a Teaching Professor Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="https://www.teachingprofessor.com/subscribe/" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

Writing an effective syllabus January 10

As You’re Preparing the Syllabus . . .

By:

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.



writing on sticky note December 1, 2016

Preparing a Learner-Centered Syllabus

By:

The Oxford Dictionary defines “syllabus” as “an outline of the subjects in a course of study or teaching.”

“Students who read a good syllabus are more likely to feel that course strategies have been designed to help them reach their goals, rather than merely as busywork or, worse, to torture them” ~ Slattery & Carlson, 2013, p. 159.
The syllabus literature tends to focus on “Here’s what makes a good syllabus,” but hasn’t addressed the following questions nearly as well: “What are the purposes of the syllabus?” and “What are the syllabus’ implications for learning?”

This is a Teaching Professor Article

To continue reading, you must be a Teaching Professor Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="https://www.teachingprofessor.com/subscribe/" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

student engagement November 27, 2016

What Are the Characteristics of a Learner-Centered Syllabus?

By:

A learner-centered syllabus shifts the syllabus emphasis from “What will be covered?” to “How can the course promote learning and intellectual development in students?”

This is a Teaching Professor Article

To continue reading, you must be a Teaching Professor Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="https://www.teachingprofessor.com/subscribe/" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

professor with students in library May 25, 2016

The Syllabus: Indicator of Instructional Intentions

By:

The literature on teaching and learning has improved so much over the years. Researchers are now covering important aspects of both in depth, analyzing with creative designs and exploring for practical and theoretical implications. One case in point is a 2015 syllabus review published in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education (a cross-disciplinary teaching and learning journal that ought to be on everybody’s radar).


Most popular articles of the year. December 18, 2015

Our Top 15 Teaching and Learning Articles of 2015

By:

As another year draws to a close, the editorial team at Faculty Focus looks back on some of the most popular articles of the past year. Throughout 2015, we published more than 200 articles. The articles covered a wide range of topics, including assignment strategies, cell phone policies, course design, flipped classrooms, online discussions, student resistance, and grading policies.

In this, our last post of the year, we reveal the top 15 articles for 2015. Each article’s ranking is based on a combination of factors, including e-newsletter open and click rates, social shares, reader comments, web traffic, reprint requests, and other reader engagement metrics.