Academic Program Assessment
A well-designed, standardized syllabus benefits you and your students in a number of ways. The UA-PTC Technology Assisted Learning Committee worked diligently for eight weeks in order to create a standardized syllabus and a course schedule template that would help faculty and students be successful. The committee considered the following themes when creating the UA-PTC Standardized Syllabus and the Course Schedule templates:
CREATING A UNIVERSAL SYLLABUS FOR THE CAMPUS
A course syllabus introduces both you and the subject to your students; communicates your goals and expectations; serves as official notice to students about course policies and requirements; and functions as a good learning tool. Like a blueprint for a building, a syllabus helps you build a course that is well thought out and organized. Details are carefully planned and not haphazardly tacked on at the last minute. Students also benefit from a familiar format where the important information can always be found in the same location, regardless of the course.
IT REQUIRES YOU TO THINK ABOUT THE COURSE AND TO ORGANIZE EARLY.
You must review and order books and other materials; determine course content and organization, assigned readings, and projects; then work it all into the semester's schedule. Developing a well-organized course is a lot of work, but once done, you have a clear plan for the semester(s) ahead.
IT HELPS STUDENTS UNDERSTAND HOW THE COURSE FITS INTO THEIR EDUCATIONAL PLANS.
Students, especially in the first two years, are required to take a number of courses for which they may have little interest and motivation because they may not understand why they must take them or how these courses will contribute to their overall educational experience. By explaining the course rationale, your syllabus can help them make connections with the rest of the curriculum.
IT COMMUNICATES YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
When students know what to expect, they can plan their own work for the semester. This is particularly important to students when several of their courses have projects or exams close together.
IT ESTABLISHES CLASS POLICIES, ASSIGNMENTS AND DEADLINES.
Because the syllabus is a written document and it is retained by the student, a syllabus can eliminate misunderstandings and clarify policies, thus reducing student confusion and the incidence of the allegation, "You never told us…" Think of your syllabus as a contract between you and each student. You expect each student to abide by the guidelines put forth and promise to extend earned rewards at the end of the course. Students can expect that the guidelines put forth will not change mid-course.
IT GIVES RELEVANT INFORMATION.
The syllabus conveys important information about the course to prospective students, the department office, and colleagues.
IT HELPS ESTABLISH THE CLASSROOM CLIMATE.
The tone of your syllabus is very important. Your choice of words can communicate your concern for students—or portray you as rigid and indifferent. Because the syllabus is the first written communication students receive from you, they tend to scrutinize it carefully to get a feeling for you as an instructor and your course expectations. Examine your syllabus from the perspective of your students. You need to clearly and efficiently communicate necessary information about the course, assignments, exams, and due dates. Specify titles and edition numbers of required texts and readings, along with expected costs. Use gender-neutral and culture-neutral language as much as possible. Don't use expressions and abbreviations that some students may not understand.