Guidance for creating a well-crafted syllabus, which is helpful for students and faculty alike.
Syllabi at Colgate vary considerably, but do need to meet minimal criteria. Faculty new to teaching at Colgate are encouraged to ask members of their department or program for sample syllabi, and to discuss with other faculty local expectations regarding reading loads, types and number of assessments, etc. A well-crafted syllabus is helpful for students and faculty alike, and can help to avoid difficult situations later in the term.
From the Faculty Handbook
The Colgate University Faculty Handbook has useful information for planning a course and constructing a syllabus. Important sections include:
Regulations Governing Classes, which includes important recommendations (see below) related to syllabus content and distribution. This section also includes information on Observance of Religious Holidays, which describes the limitations on quizzes, papers, and exams due on a "major religious holiday" or the following two weekdays. Dates of the Colgate-recognized major religious holidays for the current academic year are here.
The syllabus recommendations copied from the Faculty Handbook:
- Policy on class attendance (if any).
- A description, including scheduled times when possible, of any additional out of class activities, e.g., films, lectures, class trips, that will be required.
- A description of requirements including such matters as reading assignments and the number and nature of all written and oral examinations, term papers, quizzes, projects, and any other work that will be required of the student.
- Instructors are encouraged to include in the syllabus the due dates for assignments and examinations, especially exams given outside of the regular class meeting time.
- A description of the basis for grading in the course including the weights given to course requirements and class participation.
- Grading Policies, which includes information on assignable grades, requirements for the completion of written work, final exam requirements, etc.
In addition to the handbook’s recommendations, it is common to include:
- Course information (department/program, course number, title, and brief description of the course).
- Instructor information (name, office location, office hours [3-4 per week minimum], e-mail, etc.).
- A separate section, early in the syllabus, listing required texts, materials, etc.
Optional sections that some faculty include:
- Expectations with regards to academic honesty (consistent with Colgate policy, of course), along with any class-specific information with regards what types of collaborations are allowed for the course.
- Information regarding Accommodating Students with Disabilities.
Note: Independent of whether you include a statement on your syllabus, Colgate faculty are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations (e.g., modifications and adjustments) for students with documented disabilities, which ensure access but do not compromise academic standards.
- Information regarding the Writing and Speaking Center, CLTR tutoring services, and the Colgate University Libraries.
- Links to online resources associated with textbook ancillary materials, other useful resources, etc.
- Learning goals or course outcomes
- Where to go for syllabi or other information for co-requisite courses (e.g., associated lab section).
- More detailed language regarding attendance or participation expectations.
Language for the above varies considerably by instructor, department/program, and division. Many faculty at Colgate are happy to share syllabi with other Colgate faculty, so do not hesitate to ask a colleague if you would like to see sample language. There is a relatively new (and growing) Colgate University Syllabus Repository.
- The Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research in 101 Lathrop Hall has reference copies of O’Brien, Millis, and Cohen’s The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach (2008, 2nd Edition). Stop by the center's conference room to review this resource, as well as others on pedagogy.
- Constructing a Syllabus: A handbook for faculty, teaching assistants and teaching fellows (from the Brown University Sheridan Center).
- Syllabus Design (from the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching).
- Writing a Syllabus (Altman and Cashin, 1992, from the IDEA).