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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 it’s also a taken-for-granted artifact of teaching, and when we’re faced with teaching three, four, even five courses, recycling old syllabi is often the most efficient option. Add the new dates, use that lovely “find and replace” function, and the syllabi are good to go. How long has it been since the last serious syllabus revision? What’s the origin of this current syllabus? What’s the rationale for this set of sections and why do they appear in this order? What’s been added? Changed? Stayed the same?

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