Preparing an Effective Syllabus

In this module, faculty learn how to design a syllabus that both communicates essential information and facilitates student success. The module includes a checklist and guiding questions instructors can use to identify essential items and important resources. Instructors learn how to design calendars to assist students in meeting key deliverables and build a graphic or big ideas syllabus to support students in visualizing the organization of the course.

To satisfy the module requirements, practicing faculty must apply at least one technique, such as using a checklist and guiding questions to revise their syllabus or creating their own graphic or big ideas syllabus.

This module is one of five modules under ACUE’s unit on Designing an Effective Course and Class.

Advising Subject Matter Expert

Linda Nilson
Founding Director, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation
Clemson University

Module References

Appleby, D. C. (1994). How to improve your teaching with the course syllabus. Observer, 7(3).

Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chapman, S. (n.d.). Getting students to read the class syllabus. Retrieved from http://teaching.colostate.edu/

Clark, C. (2014, August 26). Turn your syllabus into an infographic [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ltlatnd.wordpress.com/

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Grunert O’Brien, J. (1997). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Grunert O’Brien, J., Millis, B. J., & Cohen, M. W. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Guertin, L. (2014, August 27). Getting students to read the syllabus with a syllabus quiz [Blog post]. Retrieved from the American Geophysical Union website: http://blogs.agu.org/

Illinois State University. (n.d.). Description of objectives of 100-level PSY courses. Retrieved from
http://psychology.illinoisstate.edu/

Kaufmann, K. (2003). Building a learner centered syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.4faculty.org/

Moryl, R., & Foy, S. (2015). A graphic is worth a thousand words: Develop a graphic syllabus for your course [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://graphicsyllabus.blogs.emmanuel.edu/

Nilson, L. B. (2007). The graphic syllabus and the outcomes map: Communicating your course. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nilson, L. B. (in press). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Parkes, J., & Harris, M. B. (2002). The purposes of a syllabus. College Teaching, 50, 55–61.

Polk State College, Faculty Central. (n.d.). Creating a syllabus. Retrieved from http://polkfacultycentral.com/

Riviere, J. (2014). Syllabus construction. Retrieved from http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/

Rutgers University, Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research. (n.d.). Syllabus design. Retrieved from https://ctaar.rutgers.edu/

Sample, M. (2011, May 31). Planning a class with backward design [Blog post]. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/

Sinor, J., & Kaplan, M. Creating your syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.crlt.umich.edu/

Twigg, C. A. (2003). Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning. EDUCAUSE Review, 38(5), 28–38.

Wallace, D. F. (2014, November 10). David Foster Wallace’s mind-blowing creative nonfiction syllabus: “This does not mean an essayist’s goal is to ‘share’ or ‘express herself’ or whatever feel-good term you got taught in high school.” Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/

Wieman, C. (2014). First day of class – recommendations for instructors. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website:
http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/

Wilson, S. (2006, April 21). Classroom realities. Insider Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/