Elements of a syllabus

As probably the first document students will see related to your course, the syllabus serves important functions in establishing the tone of your classroom as well as communicating the goals of your course. The following categories outline some things to think about concerning the syllabus as a public description of course content, a sequential organizer of the knowledge base underpinning the course, and an implicit learning contract between the faculty member and students.

Course Goals & Description

  • Rationale for the course: Why is this course important for students?
  • Background contextualizing this course in the discipline: Where does it fit?
  • Statement of how this course fulfills university general education aims, if applicable.
  • Goals & objectives for student learning in this course: By the end of this course, what will students know and be able to do?

Texts & Readings

  • Define and delimit course content: Why did you choose these readings?
  • Identify and develop resources: What additional resources will you make available to students? (websites, video, field experiences, etc.)
  • How/Will you use the Registrar's Blackboard site for this course to provide additional course content materials?

Assignments & Expectations of Students

  • Responsibility for learning: How will you structure assignments to encourage students' active involvement in their own learning ?
  • Attendance & participation: How will you motivate regular attendance? How will your course activities encourage student participation?
  • Grading & assessment: How will you evaluate student performance?
  • Assignment policies: What is your position on late assignments and/or incompletes?
  • Honor System: How will you integrate information about the Honor Pledge into your expectations for student work?

What Students Should Know

  • Student preparation for the course: What is the one thing you think students should know before registering for this course?

For more help on syllabus design, please check out the workshops here.