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Creating Your Syllabus & Schedule

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Your syllabus is about more than simply providing your students with the “facts” of the course – the policies, rules, expectations, evaluation criteria and assignment overviews.  It is one of your first spots of interaction with your students and is an important site where you can promote habits of mind and an approach to learning that you feel will be most beneficial to students in your class.  Treat it as an opportunity to set the tone and the stage for the work you’ll be doing during the rest of the quarter.

Creating a syllabus is a key step in course design, the moment where you synthesize the disparate components of your course.  As much as possible, you should design a "learning-centered syllabus" (O'Brien et al xv) that focuses on the learning that will take place as much, if not more than, the content that will be covered.  A learning-centered syllabus addresses not only the work that students will do, but also the processes and resources that will support that work -- and the student learning.

You might find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions as you design your syllabus:

  • How will your course reinforce the program's learning outcomes (see PWR 1 learning objectives and PWR 2 learning objectives)?  How does the design of your assignments, the framing you provide for students, and the tone you use in your syllabus lay the groundwork for a productive learning environment that accomplishes these objectives?
  • How can you design your syllabus so the students understand how the assignments align with these learning outcomes?
  • What type of metaphor might you use to describe your syllabus? Is it a map? A guide book? A contract? A reference manual?  Deciding on your defining metaphor will help you shape your syllabus as a rhetorical document.
  • What matters most to you about the learning students will be doing in the class? How can you convey that in your syllabus?

To create your syllabus and course schedule, see the following sections:


Additional Resources

Optimizing the Syllabus. Teaching Commons website. Stanford University.

O'Brien, Judith Grunert , et al The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach, 2nd edition. Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Bell, Steven Embeton. Putting Together a Syllabus.  Teaching Talk Blog, Teaching Commons. Stanford University. 4 Jan 2016.

Syllabus"A peer-reviewed journal of course syllabi and other teaching materials."