Weekly Digest #41: Preparing a Syllabus
We are all getting ready to transition from winter break back to school, with some of us returning to our students for the second half of the school year, and some of us starting a brand new semester with new classes and new students. For those starting a semester of new classes, it is time (well, possibly past time) to construct syllabi. The Learning Scientists are busy editing, updating, and finalizing our syllabi for the start of the Spring 2017 semester. For this week's digest, we decided to put out five resources dedicated to constructing an effective syllabus. Since the spring semester is coming up quickly, we also decided to put out this digest a few days early.
Below are 5 resources to help in creating, editing, or updating a syllabus. Some provide general tips while others provide examples of excellent syllabi. One includes information specific for K-12 teachers, and the final resource is a full-length, searchable e-book with tools for teaching that extend beyond syllabus construction. Happy course planning!
2) Writing a Syllabus by Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence
This resource provides a concise list of general tips. They also have some interesting ideas about how to motivate students to refer to the syllabus.
If you try any of these motivation techniques and find that they work, or have other ideas of your own, please share them in the comments below!
This website contains a number of example syllabi for courses in psychology. While this page does have a list of general tips (see here), they go a step further and provide a number of examples. All of the syllabi on their page have been reviewed and deemed excellent (see their rubric for judging syllabi). The examples are from psychology courses, but there are many elements that are not psychology specific. Make sure to check out their “best practices” section for exemplary portions of syllabi such as calendars, course objectives, etc.
Right now, they have a call for submissions of exemplary syllabi for the pedagogical use of technology. If you have a syllabus from a psych course that incorporates technology to improve student learning, consider submitting!
4) Constructing a Syllabus: A Handbook for Faculty, Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows by The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University
This is essentially a free e-book, giving you the capability to search for keywords on the computer rather than reading it cover to cover. While the document is called constructing a syllabus, it has a lot of great information about designing a course (and making sure the syllabus accurately reflects how the course will be run). This is a great resource for those just starting out with teaching or designing a new course, or seasoned teachers updating their syllabi and looking to search for detailed advice.
5) Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis
A full-length, searchable e-book covering topics such as the syllabus and the first day of class, responding to a diverse student body, leading a discussion, and use of media and technology (who knows what a “hipchart” is?).
Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our 5 most recent digests can be found here: