Please Note: Effective August 30, 2011, the office for the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development is located in ADM 452. Phone: 338-6815.
Writing an Effective Course Syllabus
Etymologically, the syllabus refers to a “table of contents” or a “course outline.” The concept of the syllabus has evolved, however, as our understanding of how people learn has developed and broadened. The syllabus can be used in a contractual sense and as an educational tool itself. The syllabus wears many faces.
- Parks and Harris (2002) assert that the syllabus represents a contract that describes the obligations of the learners and the instructor, and in which consequences for actions, favorable or not, are plainly disclosed.1
- Habanek (2005) states that “The syllabus functions as a major communication device that provides details of how students’ learning will be assessed and about the roles of both students and instructors in the learning and the assessment process.”2
- Matejka and Kurke opine that, “At the very least, the syllabus sends a symbolic message to students regarding your personality as a teacher and the amount of investment you have made in the course.”3
The syllabus should contain a clear set of learning outcomes aligned with appropriate assessments that are learner-centered.4 This means that before one begins to draft a syllabus one must conceptualize the course and begin to think of it as a dynamic entity that can be alternately designed depending on student needs, available resources, and desired outcomes. The purpose of studying the function and design of the course syllabus is to improve the quality of the document and thus, to improve the clarity of communication between student and instructors, the clarity of course expectations, and the relationship between the course and the general objectives of the program.
- Parks, J. & Harris, M. B.. (2002) "The Purpose of a Syllabus." College Teaching 50 (2): 55-61.
- Habanek, D. V.. (2005) "An Examination of the Integrity of the Syllabus." College Teaching 53 (2): 62-64.
- Matejka, K. & Kurke, L. B.. (Summer, 1994) "Designing a Great Syllabus." College Teaching 42 (3): 115-117.
- Grunert, J. (1997) The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach. Jaffrey, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.
Explore the The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development Web Site...
Site Features and Highlights
Make your course concepts accessible for all your students. Find out how easy it is to implement UDL in all of your courses with these resources.
Quick tips and suggestions on a wide variety of teaching issues, from how to get the most out of the first day of class to effective student engagement techniques ... for the busy faculty member, delivered to your screen!
Recent additions and revisions to the CTFD website, including new teaching and professional development tutorials, tips and faculty resources.
Upcoming On-Campus Opportunities
There are currently no upcoming on-campus development opportunities. Please check back later.
Upcoming Off-Campus Opportunities
There are currently no upcoming off-campus development opportunities. Please check back later.