More on the Syllabus
The syllabus checklist was revised and distributed to all faculty in the spring of 2008. At this Web site you can find tutorials to help develop the essential elements of the syllabus. Look for links embedded in the syllabus checklist. You will also find helps and resources in the Instructional Development Manual.
The original syllabus checklist was developed in 1996 with input from college deans and academic councils. Since 1996, the checklist has evolved, representing university level academic council actions and standards. Any syllabus submitted to academic councils with a new course application should incorporate all items on the checklist.
Adams Center - Syllabus Checklist v.9
Bold = Required Elements
Italic = Exceptional Tactics to note to Councils
About the Course
- Course number and Section credit hours
- Semester and Year
- Meeting time and Place
About the Teacher
- Name and title or rank
- Office location
- Phone number(s)
- Email addresses
- Office hours / Contact expectations
- Catalog description
- Main topics
Teaching/Learning Methods and Format of Class Sessions
- Description of the types of activities students should expect in the course
Texts, Readings, and Supplements
- Required and Optional materials
Evidence of Christian Perspective
- Teaching philosophy
- Policy regarding questionable materials
- Scripture related to course content
- Faith / Learning resource
Overall Outcome and Competencies
- Specific competencies stated in measurable terms
- Appropriate learning level based upon Bloom’s or Krathwohl’s taxonomy
- Measurement Instrument - State which assignments or instruments will be used to assess the competencies.
It is preferred that these items be developed in the three column model, but developers may wish to integrate all three items into individual statements.
- Complete and accurate details of factors and elements that will comprise the final grade.
- Weight or point value of all graded elements
- Grading scale with expectations for letter grades
- Specific standards, rubrics, and examples
Clear statement of expectations concerning penalties for non-compliance regarding:
- Attendance and Tardiness
- Late assignment policy
- Late exam policy
- Special needs (ADA)
- Academic integrity
- Extra credit opportunities (optional)
- Exam dates
- Due dates and other deadlines
- Schedule of readings and topics
- Statement to reserve right to modify the calendar as necessary
Exceptional Tactics or Emphasis
Tactics are evident in this syllabus that emphasize certain institutional priorities, or promote specific liberal skills, teaching innovations, or leadership qualities.
- Missional Thinking – Integration of Faith and Learning
- Portfolio Assessment Techniques
- Integration of Technology
- Writing Intensive
- Global Perspective
- Active Learning
- Team Based Learning
- Learner-Centered / Student-Defined Assignments
- Case Based Learning
- Ostensible Grading Techniques
- Baseline Evaluation Techniques
- Hybrid Course
- Highly Accessible
- Service Learning
- Environmental Stewardship
Sample syllabuses are available in the instructional development office and chairs' offices.
Basic course and instructor information:
The basic information about the institution, course, instructor, and semester is particularly relevant when students transfer and present a syllabus for course credit equivalency.
Mission - a frequent reminder of our purpose and our unique perspective.
Audience - who should take the course (for a specific major? general elective? to meet a core requirement?).
Prerequisites - list of specific courses, skills, GPA, etc., required for success in the course.
Course description - one or two paragraphs or an outline overview of course content and philosophy (or duplicate the catalog description).
Course goal - the overall goal or outcome students will achieve by the end of the course. See guidelines for writing a course goal.
Competencies - performance expectations related to student learning. Use specific verbs that communicate observable, measurable performance or outcomes. See guidelines for developing competency statements.
Evaluation methods - list of projects, papers, major assignments that will be graded to determine student competency for all course competencies. See guidelines for measuring competency.
Grading criteria - teacher's criteria and requirements for major projects and term papers (style, format specifics, length, due date, other criteria), and special grading practices (late work policy, make-up, extra credit).
Grade composition - list of all grade components, weight of each, scale for A, B, etc.
Text/s, readings, tools - full bibliographic info for texts (state whether required or optional); list of other tools and equipment, electronic resources, reading packets, etc., and where students obtain them or gain access to them.
Attendance and policies - attendance policy (tardies, absences, illness, excused and unexcused), academic dishonesty policy (cheating and plagiarism), drop/withdrawal policy,etc.
Christian perspectives - indication of how Christian perspectives will be integrated into the course (teaching philosophy about integration, competencies related to Christian perspective, course units focused on Christian perspectives or ethics, etc.).
Format - indication of the way class sessions will be conducted, types of activities (i.e. lecture, lab, research, discussion, groups, case studies, electronic media, etc.).
Course calendar - for each week or each class meeting, - list of activities and content to be covered, assignments, due dates for all graded items, exam dates.
Allow for flexibility and revisions of schedule based on progress and needs of the class.
Lecture - communicating content/expertise (dispensing information) through voice, gesture, movement, facial expression, and eye contact. Student is viewed as a passive receiver. (Gray)
Discussion - actively involving students in learning by asking questions that provoke thinking and verbal response. (Gray)
Cooperative Learning - small group structure emphasizing learning from and with others; academic and social outcomes; productive, positive interdependence; individual accountability for grades. (Karre)
Collaborative Learning - heterogeneous groups in an interdisciplinary context; emphasis on community; collectively accountable; shared resources and shared rewards. (Brody; Karre)
Learning Teams - teacher is seen as manager of overall instructional process; students are seen as empowered to take responsibility for their learning; course and activities are designed to give students opportunity and incentive to accept responsibility for learning. (Michaelsen)
Experiential Learning - learning by doing; including simulated experiences and real world experiences outside the classroom. (Silberman) Experiential learning strategies include:
- role playing
- case studies
- field work
- laboratory (not computer based)
Conferencing - discussion involving teacher and students on an equal plane in consultation on a topic.
Programmed Instruction (computer based or computer assisted) - instruction using computers to deliver part or all of the instruction.
Distance Learning - instruction conducted by a teacher at a distant sight from the students.
Team Teaching - teaching involving the collaborative efforts of two or more teachers.
Clear competency statements (performance objectives) express what students will be able to do as a result of the course.
What will students be able to do (intellectual, affective, or psycho-motor skills) as a result of my course? (Resources and guidelines regarding various domains of learning are available through the director of instructional development.)
Guidelines for clear competencies (performance objectives):
- Use specific action verbs to express the performance expected.
- Look at end results of readings, guided learning activities, and assignments in the course. Create statements (usually 4-6) that help students visualize skills/performance they will master.
- Avoid listing the activities through which you will guide students.
- Avoid listing the material/content the teacher will cover.
Philosophy: Competencies (performance objectives) stated on a new course application may represent only minimum, quantifiable objectives every student should achieve in the course. You will frequently set additional objectives that may be more challenging or even immeasurable.
Tips on competencies for new course applications:
- Avoid dated terminology (titles of software, books, periodicals, etc.).Competencies should pass the test of relevance for many years. State specific dated information in the syllabus.
- Avoid vague verbs like understand, appreciate, learn, etc. Refer to list of verbs in the instructional design manual.
- Avoid competencies that require only lower order thinking skills. Refer to Bloom's Taxonomy or other learning taxonomies.
- At grad level, require higher order thinking distinctly more advanced than undergrad level competencies.
- Make sure you show congruence among competencies, planned learning activities, and measures of evaluating student performance.
- Repeat the same competencies in the course syllabus for students.
- Use complete sentences that communicate clearly to academic council members outside your discipline.
Clear measurements express how you will quantify the level of competency your students reach (for competencies stated in the syllabus).
How will students show me they've gained these skills/competencies? How will I grade student achievement of these skills/competencies?
Guidelines for stating measurements:
- State the method or conditions you will use to measure each competency (type of test, paper, project, case study, presentation).
- State the criteria or standards you will use to assign a grade (standards established in class or in a text or by a professional body; criteria set forth in a handout or assignment or syllabus).
- Distinguish "how you will guide student learning" (instructional strategy) from "how you will measure competency."
- Distinguish "method of measuring competency" from "criteria and standards you will use to grade competency levels."
- Associate measurements with competencies.
Philosophy: The learning process continues through the step of evaluating student learning and should not be viewed as an opportunity to trick students. Means of measuring learning should flow from expectations you have clearly communicated to your students.
Tips on measurements for new course applications:
- Match each competency with a means for measurement. One measurement instrument or graded assignment may be used to measure more than one competency. Likewise, one competency may be measured by more than one method of measurement.
- Match higher order competencies with methods appropriate for measuring higher order skills. Basic comprehension and application may be measured appropriately by exams; but analysis, synthesis, and evaluation may require papers, case studies, projects, etc.
- Criteria for grading papers, projects, etc., do not have to be included in the new course application, but should be included in the syllabus. In the syllabus, such criteria should clarify teacher expectations. They show academic council members and students how student work will be graded.
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