The purpose of a syllabus has evolved past its historical usage as a simple list of subjects and lectures to be covered in a course; it is now considered a learning guide and planning tool for both students and instructors alike. A syllabus not only provides unique opportunities to discuss the “what” of a subject, but also the “how” and “why,” serving as an outlet for the instructor to express their own passion and desire for students to learn and be successful.
The Center for Teaching & Learning has created this guide of requirements and recommendations for instructors to create an ideal syllabus for their course(s). This guide addresses curriculum, educational policies, and broader issues concerning students. The following Core Components section should serve as an outline of the major categories to use during syllabus development, and the Additional Resources section expands beyond that with further considerations to ensure a motivational and supportive tool.
You may wonder why some of our recommended language is written the way it is. Put simply, “Please come and talk with me” are six words in a syllabus that can make a significant difference in whether students will approach the professor for social support (Perrine, et al., 1995). Language is powerful, and framing language in syllabi as welcoming and encouraging to our students, rather than matter of fact, may make the difference in students' success. Consider using language like the following:
This course is enjoyable, but demanding. There is a large amount of material and it can be overwhelming at times. If you find yourself doing poorly in the course, please come talk to me. Any time during the semester that you have problems in this course, I want to know about it. Together we can try to pinpoint the problem and get you off to a better start (Perrine, et al., p. 45).
Perrine, R., Lisle, J., & Tucker, D. (1995). Effects of a Syllabus Offer of Help, Student Age, and Class Size on College Students' Willingness to Seek Support from Faculty. The Journal of Experimental Education, 64(1), 41-52. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/20152471.
The following pages comprise sections that are both required and recommended to appear in an Ohio University course syllabus. This compilation was established in conjunction with the Educational Policies and Student Affairs Committee (EPSA), Ohio University Faculty Senate, Ohio University President Nellis, the University Curriculum Council, and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. For more details, please see the OHIO Faculty Senate Handbook.