Writing a Syllabus
An effective course syllabus should be considered a contract between the instructor and students in which the goals and expectations for the course are clearly articulated.
Why Write a Syllabus?
- Sets the tone for the course.
- Communicates what, when, and how students will learn.
- Clarifies for students what they need to do in order to be successful.
- Communicates expectations in terms of student responsibilities.
- Avoids misunderstandings about course policies.
Considerations for Writing a Syllabus
- Review the course description established by your department or syllabi of the same course from previous instructors.
- Check online for sample syllabi of the same or similar courses from colleagues at other universities.
- Consider questions students may have about the course (Davis, 2009).
Getting Started with Writing a Syllabus
- Establish course learning outcomes. Consider what you would like students to know or be able to do as a result of taking your course.
- Design your course. This Course Decisions Guide can guide you in the process.
- Consult our Syllabus Template to review some recommended best practices for syllabus construction. Type in your course material and information without having to format.
- Use this Syllabus Evaluation Rubric as a tool for reviewing your course syllabus.
Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Hara, B. (2010). Graphic display of student learning objectives. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from .
Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
O'Brien, J. G., Millis, B. J., & Cohen, M. W. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.