Revisiting the Syllabus

For a variety of reasons, we’re starting this year with a series on the syllabus. Most of us consider it an important course resource. We devote time and energy into its development; it’s frequently the tool we use to plan and revise our courses. But

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Classroom Climate and the Syllabus

Classroom climate “profoundly shapes” the experience of both instructor and students. That’s a claim made by two authors of a study that looked at syllabi from sociology courses to see what they said about classroom climate (Valentin & Grauerholz, 2019, p. 219). They found that

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A cutout of a rocket taking off against a pink backdrop, illustrating the notion of "course launch"

Suggestions for Successfully Launching a Course

The new academic year is fast approaching, and course preparations are either underway or on everyone’s mind. We begin every semester, every year, wanting all our courses to go well. Even more importantly, we want our students engaged and learning. And they begin each new

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Illustration of a touchscreen quiz

Prevent Student Errors with a Self-Paced Syllabus Quiz

Around an image of Yoda’s face, block letters urge, “Read the syllabus you must.” This meme represents a common complaint among college instructors, particularly those who teach online classes: that students do not follow syllabus instructions. In many on-campus classes, instructors devote at least several

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syllabus as road map

What Role Does Your Syllabus Play?

I sometimes worry that we don’t think about the syllabus as expansively and creatively as we could. We focus, almost exclusively it seems to me, on what should be on it—the information and details it should contain. We do much less thinking about the role

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what message does your syllabus send

Send the Right Message with Your Syllabus

Instructors spend a considerable amount of time planning the topics, content, and activities in their courses, but comparatively little time thinking about the syllabus. The syllabus often is treated as an afterthought at the end of course development and is used to summarize basic information

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rethinking policies that stifle creativity

Rethinking Policies That Stifle Student Learning

“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” That line from an e e cummings poem has been following me around all week.

So much of our educational system is wrapped in how-not-to’s. How not

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Too many course policies?

Examining Our Course Policies

Recent pedagogical interests have me wading through research on multi-tasking and revisiting what’s happening with cheating. In both cases, most of us have policies that prohibit, or in the case of electronic devices, curtail the activity. Evidence of the ineffectiveness of policies in both areas

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Writing an effective syllabus

As You’re Preparing the Syllabus . . .

The “find and replace” feature in Word quickly makes an old syllabus ready for a new course. Use it too many times and thinking about the course settles into a comfortable rut. Yes, we may change more than just the dates, but when was the

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