Syllabi and Course Design
We are here to help you reach your desired pedagogical goals via a systematic approach to how you design your course and develop your syllabi. Regardless of the subject, size, or level of the course, our systematic approach to course design will help you achieve your desired instructional goals. We can help you by working together to create a structure in your classroom that provides meaningful learning experiences that are engaging, active, and student-centered. Additionally, we provide guidance as you develop your syllabi which is critical for communicating course expectations, teaching methods, assignments, etc.
The course outline has some requirements as to what is needed for the course outline and must include all of the following...
- The topics to be covered in the semester (Including, but not limited to, those listed in the course syllabus)
- List of student assignments and their respective due dates
- The course learning outcomes (Including, but not limited to, those listed in the course syllabus)
- Method of determining the final grade
- Required textbooks and other resources
- Attendance policy and any other regulations the instructor has chosen to implement
- Other relevant materials should be included at the discretion of the instructor
Please, refer to Chapter 7: Policies/Procedures Related to Instruction (pg. 123) in the official UIW Faculty Handbook for specific details and guidance on course policies.
Topics Related to Syllabi and Course Design
It is important to remember that assessments should be designed to show what students can achieve, not what has been covered in the course. Students should know how they are going to be evaluated and what criteria will be used during the first week of the course. Also, consider providing opportunities for formative assessments.
When designing your assignments, you must first determine the outcomes of each assignment. What do you want your students to know and be able to do when they complete the assignments? You must also consider how you want to scaffold your assignments so that students can build on the skills as they learn them in your course. It is also important to understand that simply creating assignments does not mean that students will acquire the desired skills. The instructions need to be explicit and transparent. In other words, students should understand the goals of the assignments as well as see their growth as they complete the assignments during the semester.
This area on your syllabus should clearly and explicitly state course policies related to attendance, participation, tardiness, academic integrity, missing homework, missed exams, recording classroom activities, food in class, laptop use, phone use, masking policy, etc.
“Checking the pulse” or “gauging the temperature” of your course halfway through the semester is a great way to evaluate evidence of learning, what is working, and what needs to be improved when it comes to learning and teaching.
Faculty can alleviate distress by giving students clear standards for their work and acknowledging that students face challenges outside the classroom as well. Additionally, including a welcoming statement lets students know that you value their questions and participation. It is important to communicate your desire for students to thrive and succeed in your class.
A course map is an outline of your course. It is also called curriculum alignment, curriculum mapping, curriculum matrix, etc. These maps identify your learning objectives, assessments, assignments, projects, and course materials you will use to evaluate students. Organizing these elements side by side, or in a matrix, allows you to illustrate what students will do, learn, and be able to do in your course.
Does UIW offer Curriculum Mapping Software?
The Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology has not purchased curriculum mapping software that's widely available to the university. However, if you are a member of the Health Professions Schools (HPS), your ExamSoft package comes with a curriculum mapping software titled 'ExamSoft Map'. If you are interested in using ExamSoft Map and are a member of an HPS site, contact a Software Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may check with your local departmental leadership or Instructional Designer to inquire about other options.
When planning a new course, it is in the faculty’s best interest to begin the process early to have enough time to plan the course. Successful courses require careful and intentional planning as well as continual revisions. Remember you don’t have to plan alone. Reach out to other faculty who have taught the same or similar courses to learn about their strategies and how their students experienced the course.
This section outlines the expectations faculty members have for their students in their classrooms. This allows faculty members to communicate what exactly is required in the class and gives students a clear outline of what is appropriate and inappropriate in the classroom. For example, an expectation could be that students are expected to give their best effort to complete the readings ahead of class and that they are expected to be respectful during class discussion and not interrupt one another, etc. It is also good practice to include a section on what students can expect from you as a faculty member, i.e., within the "You can expect,” section. This provides information on what faculty can do for them. For example, when can they expect to receive an email response from the faculty member or what resources the faculty member will provide if they are struggling in the course, etc.
Resources for Creating your Syllabi and Designing your Course
- Creating the Foundation for a Warm Classroom Climate
- Example Rubric for a Learner-centered Syllabus
- Fab 5 for Course Design
- How a Learner-centered Syllabus sets the tone for Learning
- How to Build an Inclusive Syllabus
- An Inclusive Syllabus: What is it?
- Models for Learning Objectives
- Open Syllabus Project
- Open Education Resources: Commons
- Seven Ways to Make your Syllabus More Relevant