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Visually Mapping Course Design for Students: The Graphic Syllabus *. Jackie Cason, Ph.D. Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence New Faculty Orientation Fall 2006. *Adapted from a pre-conference workshop by Linda B. Nilson,
Jackie Cason, Ph.D.
Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence
New Faculty Orientation
*Adapted from a pre-conference workshop by Linda B. Nilson,
Clemson University, Writing Across the Curriculum Conference, May 2006, and from the UAF Center for Distance Education and Distance Learning Systems based on the work of Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe, 1998, Understanding by Design.
What ‘planning process’ do
you currently use when
developing a course and
preparing your syllabus?
Take a moment to generate a response.
You can jot notes, create a diagram or flowchart, or write a descriptive paragraph.
Just capture your current process!
Teach, Test, Hope for the Best
Stages of the Backward Design Process
The stages are logical but
they go against habits!
Types of Understanding/Bodies of Knowledge
It’s worth being familiar with if it…
is really interesting and adds value to lifelong learning.
can be a hook to a big idea or theme.
It is important to know and do if it…
is key to understanding the subject.
is something one might need to know and do throughout life.
links to enduring understandings.
It is an enduring understanding if it…
is at the heart of the discipline.
has value beyond the classroom.
is that aspect of learning that will remain for a lifetime
Use Worksheet 1
Understanding Leads to Essential Questions
Essential Questions--Organizational Framework for Units of Instruction
Use Worksheet 2
Essential Questions Lead to Unit Questions
Now that you have taken the time to design your course with enduring understandings, essential questions, and authentic activities and assessments, how do you communicate that to students?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines syllabus as “a statement of the subjects covered by a course of instruction or by an examination, in a school, college, etc.; a programme of study” .
Organization of Course, BLAH 300: “Something I Gotta Take to Graduate”
The syllabus is an important legal document that represents an agreement between you and your students.
Consider seriously the policies you want to enforce.
The syllabus is an important quasi-legal document that represents an agreement between you and your students (and UAA):
“Papers must submitted in class on the day they are due; no late papers will be accepted.”
Be aware of the rights and responsibilities of academic freedom:
The syllabus provides the opportunity to anticipate and respond to student questions and to establish a tone for the course.
Attendance Grading Scale
A in the class 1-3 absences
B in the class 4-6 absences
C in the class 7-9 absences
D in the class 10-12 absences
F in the class – more than 12 absences
Paper #1 = 500 points
Paper #2 = 500 points
Total points possible = 1000
The syllabus should represent the overall plan of action for the semester
“If you are 15-29 minutes late, you will receive half of the attendance grade for the day. If you are more than 30 minutes late, you will receive no credit for attendance for the day.”
When students misread your syllabus, give them the benefit of the doubt.
Choose your battles, always keeping your overall goals in mind.
If you have to make a major change in mid-semester, go about it in the appropriate way.
Be aware of the process and timeline for student grievances.Rolling with the Punches
Because students need to engage actively in creating their own cognitive maps, you can facilitate active learning by modeling the mapping process.
See handouts with examples of graphic syllabi:
Use Worksheet 3