Syllabus Construction

Description of required syllabus content and guidelines to align with UWF policies. Tips for “best practices” for constructing a learning-centered syllabus.


Introduction

The syllabus provides basic information about course content, activities and assignments planned for the term, and information about how to contact the instructor. The syllabus establishes the instructor’s expectations, policies, and procedures for the course. It identifies what content will be taught and when it will be taught, what assignments and exams students must complete, how assignments and exams will be used to compute grades, the instructor’s specific rules regarding management of the class, including expectations about attendance and participation in class, and the consequences for students who turn in late assignments, miss exams, or show evidence of cheating and other forms of academic misconduct.

A well-crafted syllabus sends students the message that the instructor is organized, cares about student learning, and will create effective learning experiences. A syllabus should provide clear and explicit expectations for student learning and establish procedures and guidelines for typical problems and requests posed by students. In the absence of a clear syllabus, instructors must continuously negotiate decisions about deadlines, make-up work, extra credit, and other special requests from students. When an instructor simply applies rules described in the syllabus to a current request or problem, the actions taken are clearly justified and students are unlikely to believe that decisions were driven by personal characteristics of the student. In contrast, an instructor who makes these decisions on an as-needed basis risks treating students inconsistently or appearing to act in an arbitrary or capricious manner. Faculty can avoid many conflicts by communicating policies in their syllabus and following these policies consistently. A well-documented syllabus does not preclude exceptions for unusual circumstances that justify adjustments to policies. But a well-documented syllabus helps faculty respond to student requests in a consistent and fair manner that minimizes complaints and grievances.

The Faculty Senate and University policies establish expectations about the content of course syllabi at the University of West Florida. These guidelines describe these expected components and additional components associated with “best practices” in course design and syllabus construction. Although some best practice components will not be relevant to or appropriate for some courses, faculty should include all components identified as expected elements.


Required Components

Components that are expected for all Syllabi at UWF

Required UWF Syllabi Components

Best Practices

Best Practices for designing a learning-centered syllabus

Syllabi Best Practices

Updated: 06/25/14  tjf

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