Making a Syllabus



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Making a Syllabus

  • Dr. John Marvelle
  • CART Teaching Fellow
  • Professor of Elementary & Early Childhood Education
  • December, 2004
  • Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA
  • Annotated
  • Version

Workshop purpose: To explore ways to enhance our syllabi.

  • At the completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:
  • Identify the items typically present on a syllabus
  • Identify 2-3 items that could be added to their syllabus
  • Write course objectives or outcomes for their course

Some of the questions that a syllabus can answer...

Course Purpose - Topics

  •                       
  • Dear Dr. Greenberg:
  • Will this course help me prepare for the teacher test?
  • Dear Dr. Marvelle:
  • Are we going to learn about how to work with parents of children with special needs?

Attendance & Participation

  •                       
  • Dear Dr. Greenberg:
  • Is participation part
  • of our grade?
  • Dear Dr. Thornell:
  • How many unexcused absences do we get in this class?
  • Dear Dr. Smith:Is it ok if I leave early – I have a class across campus?

Course Grading

  • Dear Dr. Moir:
  • What can I do
  • to get a better
  • grade?
  • Dear Dr. Fishbeck:
  • I don’t understand
  • how you graded the assignment. I thought I did a good job.
  • Dear Dr. Marvelle:
  • Do you drop our lowest test grade?
  • PC use
  • cell phones
  • class tardiness
  • preparation
  • participation
  • cheating
  • plagiarism

A syllabus shares the purpose of your course, your expectations, your assignments, & grading scheme.

  • Preventing problems uses less energy than correcting them.
  • Syllabus found on the web.
  • This is the entire syllabus. It is pretty vague!

EE 220 Introduction to Elementary Education Dr. Steven R. Greenberg Professor of Elementary and Early Childhood Education   How to contact me: Dr. Steven R. Greenberg, 135 Hart Hall Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA 02325   Phone: Office: (508) 531-2329; Fax: (508) 531-4329 E-Mail: sgreenberg@bridgew.edu  

  • Office Hours: Tuesdays 9:30 – 10:30 Thursdays 9:30 – 10:30 and 12:30 – 1:30
  • Contents
  • Course Description
  • Course Topics
  • Indices of Student Success (Course Objectives)
  • Textbooks and Suggested Readings
  • Grading Rubric
  • Course Schedule
  •  
  • Another syllabus found on the web. Dr. Steve Greenberg’s syllabus (on BSC website).
  • Notice the difference this syllabi and the previous one.
  • These are links. When students click on any
  • of these links they see full descriptions of the item.

There isn’t a BSC Syllabus Template, but consider…

  • Contact Information; Office hours, Email
  • Catalog Description
  • Course Rationale (Explanation / Context)
  • Teaching Approach
  • List Objectives (or Outcomes)
  • Course Overview -- List of Topics
  • Resources (Required texts, etc)
  • Classroom Expectations, Academic Policies, and Supports
  • Assignments / Assessments & Grading
  • Course Calendar

No Template, but consider…

  • Contact Information; Office hours, Email
  • Catalog Description
  • Course Rationale (Explanation / Context)
  • Teaching Approach
  • List Objectives (or Outcomes)
  • Course Overview -- List of Topics
  • Resources (Required texts, etc)
  • Classroom Expectations, Academic Policies, and Supports
  • Assignments / Assessments & Grading
  • Course Calendar

Outcomes/Objectives

  • Objectives/Outcomes focus on student learning, not on what the teacher will do.
  • The student will be to identify…
  • Objectives/Outcomes are measurable. (Outcomes are performance oriented.)
  • The student will describe the steps…
  • Although objectives only take up 5-6 lines on a syllabus, many educators
  • believe that they are the most important item on a syllabus.

Outcomes/Objectives

  • On completion of this course, students should be able to:
  • Based on Brown University’s syllabus template on the web..
    • Analyze
    • Appreciate
    • Build
    • Classify
    • Compare
    • Describe
    • Display
    • Explain
    • Evaluate
    • Justify
    • List
    • Name
    • Organize
    • Outline
  • Action verbs often found in objectives.

List Course Outcomes

  • In this course, teacher candidates will complete the following course outcomes:
  • build their own portfolio that demonstrates their development as a professional and their accomplishments during their Professional Semester. (ACEI Guidelines: 1.3, 5.1, and 7.1).
  • describe how to create an inclusive classroom and will demonstrate an understanding of special education in terms of legal and moral responsibilities. (ACEI Guidelines: 6.0, 6.2, and 6.4).

or Course Objectives

  • By the end of this course, teacher candidates will be able to:
  • build their own portfolio that demonstrates their development as a professional and their accomplishments during their Professional Semester. (ACEI Guidelines: 1.3, 5.1, and 7.1).
  • describe how to create an inclusive classroom and will demonstrate an understanding of special education in terms of legal and moral responsibilities. (ACEI Guidelines: 6.0, 6.2, and 6.4).
  • Notice the difference: Will complete vs. Will be able to
  • “Outcomes” describe what a student will actually do during the course.

No Template, but consider…

  • Contact Information; Office hours, Email
  • Catalog Description
  • Course Rationale (Explanation / Context)
  • Teaching Approach
  • List Objectives (or Outcomes)
  • Course Overview -- List of Topics
  • Resources (Required texts, etc)
  • Classroom Expectations, Academic Policies, and Supports
  • Assignments / Assessments & Grading
  • Course Calendar

Stating Expectations and Creating the Classroom Climate

  • Use your syllabus and your first day of class to help your students know your expectations
  • Classroom Expectations
  • Attendance / tardiness
  • Participation
  • Behavior
    • eating in class
    • civility & respect
    • (side conversations)
  • Academic Policies
  • quality of work (rubrics/checklists)
  • grading schemes
  • late assignments
  • plagiarism / cheating
  • Support
  • disabilities accommodations
  • additional help
  • Most professor don’t include all of these, but include those they feel are appropriate to their classroom style and maturity of their students..
  • Classroom Expectations
  • Attendance / tardiness
  • Participation
    • involvement
    • note-taking
    • use of laptops
  • Behavior
    • eating in class
    • civility & respect
    • (side conversations)
  • Academic Policies
  • quality of work (rubrics/checklists)
  • grading schemes
  • late assignments
  • plagiarism / cheating
  • Support
  • disabilities accommodations
  • additional help
  • Use your syllabus and your first day of class to help your students know your expectations

Attendance Policy

  • For example: Attendance in my sections of MMAE 202 is rigidly enforced.  I will hand out a sheet with each student's name on it. You are required to put your initials in the box corresponding to your name, otherwise you will be marked as absent. The part of my evaluation of your grade will be based upon your attendance record. Therefore, it is imperative that you come to class. If for some reason (and it better be good) you cannot attend class, you must e-mail me the day before and explain why.
  • M. Vural, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Help your students know what your attendance policy by clearly stating it.
  •                 
  • For example: “Never ask, `Did I miss anything important in class the other day?`
  • Of course you did.
  • I recommend the `buddy system.` If you do have to miss class for some reason, get your buddy’s notes and see what you missed first, then come and ask me questions. Also, you are responsible for all notes missed and all announcements made, and the buddy system is your best avenue for seeing to this.”
  •             
  • The Buddy System
  • From Dr. Aeon Skoble’s syllabus (on BSC website)

For example: “As a student, you are responsible for learning about the course topics that are discussed in class. If you miss any class time, you are required to demonstrate your understanding of the topic(s). To do this, you are expected to submit a tangible product (see criteria below) on each topic presented or discussed during your absence.”

  • Missed Class Assignment
  • From Dr. John Marvelle’s syllabus

Participation

  •                       
  • Help your students know what you mean by participation.
  • Also, if and how it will be used in your grading.
  • Positive Attributes
  • (1) Enters into class discussions
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (2) Offers questions or comments during class
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (3) Visits at podium after class
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (4) Visits during office hours to clarify ideas
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (6) Offers questions or comments via e-mail
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • Negative Attributes
  • (7) Skips class
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (8) Shows up late
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (9) Sleeps in class
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • (10) Exhibits disruptive behavior
  • ALMOST ALWAYS
  • FREQUENTLY
  • OCCASIONALLY
  • SELDOM
  • ALMOST NEVER
  • Thanks to Prof. Kathleen Tunney, SocialWork, SIUE
  • Student Participation
  • Student's Name:
  • _________________ _________________ _________________
  • This is only one example. How do you tell your students what participation means and how you
  • will use it in your grading scheme?
  • Disability Support
  • For example: Bridgewater State College, the faculty of the Elementary and Early Childhood Education Department and this instructor are committed to non-discrimination of handicapped persons as specified in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students who qualify as handicapped persons or have extenuating circumstances, which might interfere with coursework, as assigned should meet with the instructor at the beginning of the course so that reasonable modifications in course requirements may be made when necessary.
  • Used by Elementary & Early Childhood Education Department
  • One way to let your students know about Section 504 and the availability of the
  • Academic Achievement Center.
  • Another example: In compliance with Bridgewater State College policy and equal access legislation, I am available to discuss appropriate accommodations that you may require as a student with a documented disability. Requests for academic accommodations should be made during the add/drop period, unless there are unusual circumstances, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Students should register with the Disability Resources Office in Boyden Hall for disability verification and determination of reasonable academic accommodations.
  • From Dr. Victor DeSantis’s syllabus (on BSC website)

Some Extras

  • Academic Misconduct Statement
  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • For example: Bridgewater State College is dedicated to the pursuit of truth. In this pursuit, academic honesty is of fundamental importance. Faculty, students and administrators all have a responsibility to value, demonstrate and safeguard academic integrity as one of the college’s most essential intuitional values.
  • Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to plagiarism, cheating, disruption of teaching or research, dishonest practices in connection with examinations and disruptive classroom behavior. Any one of these examples may result in dismissal from the course with an F grade.
  •                 
  • The Not-the-13th-Grade Page A FREE Online Guide to College Success James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Geography Revised: December 2, 2004
  • http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/NOT13TH/not13th.htm
  •             
  • Supporting your course with your webpage
  • For example:
  • Take a look at Dr. Hayes-Bohanan page to see how he uses the web to
  • encourage and support his students.

No Template, but consider…

  • Contact Information; Office hours, Email
  • Catalog Description
  • Course Rationale (Explanation / Context)
  • Teaching Approach
  • List Objectives (or Outcomes)
  • Course Overview -- List of Topics
  • Resources (Required texts, etc)
  • Classroom Expectations, Academic Policies, and Supports
  • Assignments / Assessments & Grading
  • Course Calendar

The Final Grade…

  • Final grades in this course will be determined as follows:
    • In-class Final Examination: 30 percent
    • Written Essay: 20 percent
    • Case Study paper: 25 percent
    • Oral Presentation: 15 percent
    • Participation: 10 percent
  • Most syllabi include some grading scheme. On the following pages are
  • several examples.
  • 1. Quiz on Curriculum Frameworks
  • 5
  • Points
  • 2. Inclusion Project
  • 5
  • Points
  • 3. Quiz on Traditional Assessment
  • 5
  • Points
  • 4. Statement - Constructivism
  • 10
  • Points
  • 5. Midterm Examination
  • 15
  • Points
  • 6. Portfolio
  • 5
  • Points
  • 7. Assessment Project
  • 20
  • Points
  • 8. Prepracticum Project
  • 5
  • Points
  • 9. Class Participation and Attendance
  • 15
  • Points
  • 10. Final Exam
  • 15
  • Points
  • Total
  • points

Grading Checklist

  • Task
  • Points
  • Content
  • /4
  • Presentation
  • /1
  • Total:
  • /5
  • Help students understand assignments by providing your grading checklists and rubrics.
  • Grading Assignments
  • Holistic Grading Rubric
  • Grading Assignments
  • Help students understand assignments by providing your grading checklists and rubrics.
  • 0 1 2 3
  • Top-down design
  • 0 1 2 3 4
  • Documented code
  • 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • Documentation
  • 0 1 2 3
  • Annotated Output
  • 0 1 2 3
  • Total Possible
  • /18
  • Hybrid Grading Rubric
  • (Checklist-Rubric)
  • This shows how a checklist can be weighted.
  • For example: If you find that your grades have been added incorrectly, or you would like a grade on your homework or examination reconsidered, you should
  • Prepare a written statement explaining why you think your grade is incorrect;
  • Leave your written request, together with the homework/exam in question in my office at E1-253D or mailbox at E1-247.
  • Grade change requests received later than one week after the graded assignment was returned to you will not be considered.
  • M. Vural, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • `Appealing a Grade` Statement
  • Just one example how a professor handled students
  • asking for a change of a test grade.

Last Discussion Topics…

  • 1 - WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE ON MY SYLLABUS AND WHAT CAN WAIT?
  • 2 - Many syllabi say, “NOTE: THE INSTRUCTOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THE REQUIREMENTS AND SYLLABUS AT ANY TIME.”
  • Although most of the participants agreed that a syllabus isn’t an absolute contract (most of do change the calendar and sometimes topics to be covered), most of us felt that a statement like this was too strong -- especially if it implied we could (on a wim, change the course requirements or the grading scheme.
  • Summary: Include what fits your style and the maturity of your students.
  • These topics were briefly discussed.

Dr. John Marvelle Elementary & Early Childhood Education If you would like to make an appointment to talk about your syllabus or teaching and learning, call or email me: jmarvelle@bridgew.edu (508) 531-1367

  • Thank you for sharing!

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