This resource was originally developed with resources from the College STAR grant. That grant has ended and the College STAR modules will now permanently reside at the East Carolina University Office for Faculty Excellence.
College students appreciate a detailed class syllabus, presented in a friendly manner so that they are encouraged to do their best in the course. Instructors who write syllabi that convey a welcoming tone may motivate students by conveying an expectation of positive outcomes (Slattery & Carlson, 2005). Students also appreciate the way that a thorough syllabus can act as a guide to the course, assisting them in understanding the course objectives, planning for deadlines and completing assignments. This research supported approach is one way that instructors can organize a course to support student learning. In addition to crafting syllabi that meet the needs of students, faculty often include standard sections that may be mandatory at universities or within academic departments A syllabus can take on several concurrent roles. It can act as a self-management tool for students, helping them approach assignments, gauge their success, and assess where they need to invest more effort (Parkes & Harris, 2002).
The syllabus can serve as a permanent record of class rules and policies, which may prevent students from challenging the grading system by saying that course requirements weren’t communicated clearly (Parkes & Harris, 2002). Often, a syllabus functions as a type of informal contract or agreement between faculty and students, defining their respective responsibilities (Davis & Schrader, 2009; Habanek, 2005; Matejka & Kurke, 1994; Parkes & Harris, 2002; Slattery & Carlson, 2005). The syllabus also can serve as a bridge to all learners. A syllabus that provides options for completing assignments so that students can choose a format that plays to their strengths is practicing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Support for this Module
Original development of this module was made possible by the College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention) initiative. College STAR was a grant-funded project focused on partnering postsecondary educational professionals and students to learn ways for helping postsecondary campuses become more welcoming of students with learning and attention differences. Much of this work was made possible by generous funding from the Oak Foundation.