Syllabus Tips

Happy New Year from the Center for Teaching and Learning!

Many of you are likely working on your syllabi this week, so we are sending some tips on the syllabus.  See the SyllabusChecklist for ideas of items to include in your syllabus.  For more ideas, look through our Teaching Tips from last semester.

A few suggestions/ideas:

(1) Use policies that allow flexibility for the many different situations our students encounter. For example, use “coupons” for late assignments, dropped exams or assignments, and/or a make-up assignment or exam for all students who missed one. Many faculty want students to contact them prior to missing an assignment or test, however, this does not account for last-minute situations (e.g., transportation issues, emergencies). Also, many faculty require documentation such as a doctor’s excuse, however, many of our students do not have easy access to heatlh care, and some medical situations do not need a doctor’s visit. Try to use policies that account for a diversity of situations.

(2) Set policies for re-grading requests.  For example, set time limits for requests such as 1 week from when graded work is returned or grades to help limit the number of requests at the end of the semester.  You could also require that all requests for re-grading are in writing to increase students’ thoughtfulness of requests and their learning, to decrease emotional face-to-face discussions, and to help you assess similar requests from other students.

(3) Include an extra-credit policy – whether you include extra credit or not. An example syllabus policy: There are no planned extra credit points for this course.  Extra-credit options will not be provided based on requests or for individual students and will not be provided to make up for prior poor performance and/or missed assignments/tests.  If there are extra-credit options, they will be announced to the entire class and will occur prior to the end of the course.  Also, if you include extra credit that requires attendance at an event or a cost, include an alternative that all students can access.

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