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Syllabus Development Made Easy

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” British writer Andrew Grant

That same mantra should be followed when revamping or developing your syllabus as this is the first document that your students interact with. The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has numerous resources available to ensure our instructors have everything they need to create a strong syllabus.

A primary purpose of a syllabus is to communicate to your students what the course is about, why it is taught, where it is going, and what will be required of the students for them to complete the course with a passing grade.

“A lot of people think the most important part of the syllabus are the policies, but it really is the way that you articulate your assignments and how you’re going to guide students through learning,” Casey Carroll, instructional designer at CTE said.

Regardless of the stage you’re at in syllabus development, CTE is certain to have helpful information to guide you along your journey.  Our syllabus templates and sample syllabus statements are a great resource for any type of teaching modality and provide you with a solid foundation. If you’re looking for more detailed instruction, our step-by-step guide and YouTube videos may be of interest.  

“While a lot of people are familiar with the syllabus, if you don’t have a lot of experience writing your own syllabus, our resources can help you make sure that you’re communicating the most important aspects of the course to your students,” Carroll said.

Although it’s recommended to have your syllabus prepared by the first day of class, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible and make changes along the way. CTE Program Manager Michelle Hardee suggests this Twitter thread for ten great tips for syllabus development.

“I cannot recommend each of these highly enough - we need to be flexible with our students because their lives (and ours) are regularly being upended, interrupted, impacted by COVID or secondary impacts of the pandemic,” Michelle Hardee, CTE’s program manager, said. “As long as they're achieving the learning that you want, give them grace, give them latitude, allow for alternative assignments, extended/flexible deadlines, etc.”

Whether you’re new to teaching or a veteran, it never hurts to review and update your syllabus for clarity and ultimately positive student interaction. If you would like more individualized assistance, feel free to schedule a consultation with one of the instructional designers at the Center for Teaching Excellence.

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