Where am I?
Your course syllabus is the window into your philosophy of teaching -- does it really reflect what you want for your students? The guidelines for syllabus development promoted by Fontbonne University follow best practices for student-centered learning. Your department chair can provide a copy of these guidelines.
For additional help with developing a strong syllabus for your course, please contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
These Internet sites may address your questions on development of good syllabi:
- There are many issues to consider when developing a syllabus, according to Michael Woolcock . His guidelines are published by the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University.
- This site from the University of Delaware's Center for Teaching Effectiveness summarized several current books on development of learner-centered syllabi.
- Effective Syllabi: Best Practices, Adapted from: Slattery, J. M. and Carlson, J. F.(2005). Preparing an effective syllabus: current best practices . College Teaching, 53, pp. 159-165.
- Research Yields Tips on Crafting Better Syllabi from the Chronicle of Higher Education (3/14/08).
- The Syllabus Becomes a Repository of Legalese from the Chronicle of Higher Education (3/14/08).
Recommended Books from the Center
Nilson, Linda B. (2007). The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course. San Francisco . San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Is a syllabus with pages and pages of text really the best way to convey what you want students to learn in your course? Nilson provides many examples of how conceptual frameworks, learning outcomes, and expectations of students can be accurately conveyed to students in a variety of ways. She states that "identifying patterns and connections is one of the mind's most important jobs" (p. 11), and that graphic syllabi help students understand important course concepts right from the beginning of the semester. This may not work for all courses, but may allow faculty to think differently about conveying important concepts on their syllabi.
O'Brien, Judith Grunert, Millis, Barbara J., and Cohen, Margaret W. (2008). The Course Syllabus: A Learning Centered Approach (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Hot off the press, this book does an excellent job of explaining not only the "whats" of a good syllabus, but the "whys." Written with today's millennial students in mind, it reminds faculty that students are not mind-readers, and the burden of clear instructions and explanations falls to the individual classroom teacher. The majority of the book is examples, and a large number of other resources are provided at the end.