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Constructing Syllabi. Lois A. Fisch, Ph.D. Laura G. Dorow, Ed.D. New Faculty Orientation Utica College August 22, 2006. Broadbent (2003). Examined 111 Fall 2002 Utica College syllabi for presence or absence of 20 key features

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constructing syllabi

Constructing Syllabi

Lois A. Fisch, Ph.D.

Laura G. Dorow, Ed.D.

New Faculty Orientation

Utica College

August 22, 2006

broadbent 2003
Broadbent (2003)
  • Examined 111 Fall 2002 Utica College syllabi for presence or absence of 20 key features
  • A significant percentage lacked features that would enable students with disabilities to be self-sufficient
  • These same strategies have proven helpful for all students
highly recommended features
Professor name & contact information

Office hours & office location

Course description

Required and recommended textbooks

Summary of course content

Course objectives/student outcomes

Semester calendar showing all readings & assignments with important dates in BOLD

Checklist of due assignments

Attendance policy

Highly Recommended Features
assessment grading
Assessment & Grading
  • Grading scale
  • Type of assessment
  • Weights of tests and assignments (points or per cents)
  • Detailed description of assessment
  • Course expectations
  • Explain criteria for participation grade
useful statements and policies
Useful Statements and Policies
  • Intellectual honesty
  • Disability disclosure
  • Availability and location of Academic Support Services
  • Availability and location of Math/Science and Writing Centers
  • Library services
  • Invite students to visit during office hours
  • Missed classes
  • Explain importance of attendance and participation
  • Late assignments
  • Missed quizzes and texts
  • Tardiness
  • Getting missed notes or information
  • Create a user friendly and readable syllabus
  • Identify sections with bold headings
  • Separate sections with extra spacing
  • Avoid “busy” presentation formats
  • Proofread for consistency & accuracy throughout
  • Include more information in the syllabus so that students can plan from the first day of class
    • Material that was given in separate handouts is now included in the syllabus
    • Policies in the course are written in a more explicit nature
Provide a calendar/graphic organizer that includes date of class, topic, readings, due dates for assignments, and dates of quizzes/exams
  • Simplify your calendar: eliminating lines and using shading to help the reader distinguish more easily between rows.
good ideas from the acss faculty
Good Ideas from the ACSS Faculty
  • The schedule of readings and assignments includes the questions/topics for paper assignments. Clearly indicate in text boxes the paper questions for the entire semester.
  • Add a comment on writing expectations, including a statement regarding availability for writing assistance for weekend students when the Writing Center is not open
Add a timeline that encourages students to read ahead in the longer works.
  • Provide greater student choice
  • Clarify consequences of undesirable behavior
  • Explain how the course will run on a daily basis
  • Explain the location of assistive technology resources (JAWS and Dragon Naturally Speaking)
Dedicate Friday of each week to class discussions
  • Use a matrix format to facilitate students’ learning of theoretical perspectives and frames of reference
  • Provide specific directions for each assignment with the opportunity to clarify expectations – to be handed out as one packet at the beginning of the semester instead of throughout the semester
Reduce the reading load
  • Add more explicit evaluative criteria to include specific criteria necessary to achieve course grade, rubrics for research papers and presentations, and a checklist to assess student adherence to appropriate writing style format
Have students skim text for main points
  • Provide a glossary of important terms that students should know for the next session
  • Explain how the previous session relates to the current session
  • Spread many small assignments throughout the semester
  • Be more sensitive to students’ various ways of learning
Create a graphic organizer for novels, built around the particular theme central to each novel rather than just a timeline or plot outline
  • Explain in greater detail your expectations regarding what students should know and how to approach the material
Change from straight lecture to a mixture of lecture, student-led discussions, an occasional video, demonstrations, and group activities
  • Give students a greater variety and choice in course assignments.
  • Offer to provide detailed input on written assignments, provided that the student meets with you at least three days prior to the due date of the assignment
Change from occasional quizzes to weekly quizzes
  • Change from class tests and a final paper to take-home tests/short papers and a final paper
Discuss where students can access academic support in class
  • Give class a list of possible essay questions in advance of the exam
  • Provide written study guides for exams
  • Add cooperative group activities
memory strategies
Memory Strategies
  • Use some questions students have already seen on the weekly quizzes on midterm and final exams
  • Give students a choice of questions on the exam
  • Add a header to every handout that indicates the topic
  • When a handout deals with a section of the primary project, include that information in the header
  • Encourage students to color-code handouts
content enhancement
Content Enhancement
  • Revise free writing questions from general questions about literary devices and literary form to questions that ask students to relate their own concerns to those of the authors
  • Let student questions form the basis for class discussion, bringing the element of personal connection into the classroom
content enhancement1
Content Enhancement
  • Change weekly assignments from answering a questions of the professor’s choice to a question based on a topic the students feel is important and worthy of discussion. During class, each student has the opportunity to lead a small discussion group using his/her question/answer.
  • Assign and collect reflective statements at the end of each class session. Graded on a pass fail basis, reflections require students to summarize session content.
content enhancement2
Content Enhancement
  • Use case studies as discussion content
  • Change course emphasis from planning research to reading existing research critically
  • Have students work in class to contribute to the material to be included in the study guides
  • Devote the last week of class to “works in progress reviews”
universal design for learning
Universal Design for Learning
  • Ask the Media Center to order assigned novels in audio book format
  • Using AudioBookMakr 2, create CDs with all the poems that the student have to read for the class
  • Allow electronic submission of work
  • Expand your personal perspective on the classroom experience
  • Provide your syllabus in digital format