Everything You Need to Know about a Course Syllabus, but Were Afraid to Ask
Sometimes referred to as an “agreement” or “contract,” you need to understand what is important on a syllabus and how and why it is used.
What is important on a syllabus? Everything!
- The name of the course, meeting days and times.
- The instructor’s name, phone and email contact information, office location, and office hours.
- Information about reading materials and supplies needed for the course (textbook, articles, lab supplies, clickers, etc.).
- A course description and what you can expect to learn (also known as course or learning objectives).
- Class policies policies on assignments, attendance, participation, tardiness, extra credit, and classroom etiquette (issues such as cell-phone use).
- Grading scale and policies: How are assignments and examinations weighted? What is required to achieve your desired grade in the course?
- University policies such as information related to students with disabilities and academic honesty
- A semester calendar of course dates, topics, meeting locations, assignments, quizzes, projects, and test dates.
The syllabus may also include specific expectations the instructor has of you as a student in his or her class.
Any other advice?
- Your instructor may include a disclaimer that the syllabus is subject to change. The change could be a due date, elimination of an assignment or other requirement. Note changes in writing on your syllabus and ask if you are unclear about changes.
- Many professors do not remind students about due dates for course requirements. Your syllabus is your reminder!
- Above all, if you have questions ask your instructor to explain.
- Follow this link to a great article on the almighty syllabus by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. The Course Syllabus: Know It, Love It, Understand It, Benefit From It