Creating Your Syllabus

The syllabus, which acts as a contract with your students, presents an overview of the course description; course goals and objectives; lists required materials; describes the schedule, assignments, and assessments; clarifies policies (including grading criteria) and expectations; and provides contact information. Although the syllabus is a contract, it should not be simply a list of prohibitions. Think of it as a communication tool in which your students can read about your expectations of them and develop their ideas about their expectations for you and your class.

The University Senate By-Laws stipulate that “Faculty shall provide syllabi to students in their courses, including internships and independent studies. Syllabi shall specify what will be taught, how it will be taught, how learning will be assessed, and how grades will be assigned.” How to design that syllabus is unique to the faculty.

What to include in a syllabus?

Each course at UConn is unique and, as the syllabus is a reflection of the course and the instructor, each syllabus is unique as well.

  • Contact information and office hours—List your classroom, office and office hours. Also provide all applicable contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  • Course Description—Find a description of the course in the course catalog (undergraduate catalog; graduate catalog). The General Education Oversight Committee provides additional information on all Gen Ed courses. The description you provide in the syllabus may be a combination of these with additional information about your unique course.
  • Course Goals and Objectives - A well-developed course is designed around specific course goals and student-learning objectives; these goals and objectives should be articulated for your students. CETL has developed a resource sheet on learning objectives or visit our learning objectives page.
  • Required Materials - Articulate all materials (books, articles, technology, etc.) students will need to complete the course.
  • Schedule – This schedule should include intended topics for each session, any pre-class requirements, and materials (texts or technology) that are necessary that class. It makes sense to identify the schedule on your syllabus as “tentative” or “subject to change” and to discuss with students how they will be notified of schedule changes.
  • Assignments and Assessments - The more detail you provide in these areas, the more informed and prepared your students will be.
  • Grading structure – This should include the percentage of grade contribution from each assignment or assessment, along with how letter grades are determined. Please be aware that the University prohibits grading attendance at class. CETL has provided a tip sheet on avoiding grading on attendance or participation.
  • Policy statement – This includes your class policies and the University’s policies. The Office of the Provost has created References for Syllabi Links to highlight specific policies and information recommended for inclusion in syllabi.

CETL Syllabus Template

CETL offers a syllabus template that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and is available for download. 

 

Once you have created your syllabus, you can submit the link to it via the Syllabus Link Submission form. We will add the link to the “Notes” field in StudentAdmin for students to access in advance of the start of class. For more information, click here.

Faculty from various disciplines have offered their syllabi as samples for faculty looking to create one.

Tips:

  • Use a friendly and inviting tone Convey procedures and expectations, but also express the excitement inherent to the content you teach
  • Revise and improve your syllabus. Create a syllabus before the start of your course, but don’t stop there; continue to revise the syllabus—perhaps marking it up throughout the semester—to improve it for the next time you teach the course.
  • Make sure your syllabus is accessible. ITS has created resources on making documents accessible.
  • Stay aware of the academic calendar. As you develop your schedule for the semester, always refer to the academic calendar. Also be mindful of religious holidays.
  • Post your syllabus. Students have an expectation that a syllabus will be available to them at the start of the course, so be sure that your syllabus is readily accessible. HuskyCT is a great place to post your syllabus.
  • Introduce the syllabus to your students. Introduce the syllabus to your students on the first day of class. If necessary, show them how to read the syllabus; perhaps even conduct a group activity (e.g., a syllabus scavenger hunt) or quiz to ensure that students have read and understand all components of the syllabus.
  • Be aware of how to proceed if you suspect a student of academic misconduct.Community Standards has developed procedures pertaining to academic misconduct. These are available on their website: Academic Misconduct Procedures for Instructors. Faculty should be aware of them prior to teaching a course.

 

Helpful Resource:

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a helpful guide entitled "How to Create a Syllabus" which you may find useful while drafting or revising your syllabus.

Additional Resources:

Bunce, D. M. “Teaching is More than Lecturing and Learning is More than Memorizing.”

Journal of Chemical Education, 2009, 86 (6), 674-680.

DiClementi, J. D. and Handelsman, M. M. “Empowering Students: Class-Generated Rules.”

Teaching of Psychology, 2005, 32 (1), 18-21.

Dornsife, R. “Good Teaching as Vulnerable Teaching.” Teaching Professor, December, 2012.

Gibson, L. “Self-directed Learning: An Exercise in Student Engagement. College Teaching,

2011 59 (3), 95-101.

Hudd, S. S. “Syllabus Under Construction: Involving Students in the Creation of Class

Assignments.” Teaching Sociology, 2003, 31 (2), 195-202.

O’Brien, J. G., Millis, B. J., and Cohen, M. W. The Course Syllabus: A Learner-Centered

Approach, 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Singham, M. . “Moving Away from the Authoritarian Classroom.” Change, May/June 2005,

  1. 51-57.

Singham, M. “Death to the Syllabus.” Liberal Education, 2007, 93 (4), 52-56.