Teaching Council

Teaching Council

How To Create A Great Syllabus

A well-crafted syllabus is one of the most important tools for any class. They serve as a guide to the instructor and students. They communicate expectations and policies and should serve as the de-facto law in your class. While there are infinite ways to create a syllabus, there is no one size fits all approach that will appease every professor. To help you craft your own syllabus the Teaching Council has put together a list of appropriate items to create a well crafted syllabus. As a bonus, at the end of this section, you will be able to find a link to the Canavas Syllabus Maker that Eric Donath, of the Instructional Technology wing of IT, has created. 

The Canvas Syllabus Maker provides a template and form to upload a new syllabus in Canvas. Using the syllabus maker is very nice as it prompts you for information to add to your syllabus and, once you have added all of the information you wish to add, you will be able to upload it directly into Canvas with a single button click. You are also able to get an HTML preview of your syllabus that is copy and pastable into whatever word processor you use. It is even tastefully formatted with certain items being centered, bolded, etc. One thing to keep in mind is if a course already has a syllabus in Canvas, this tool provides a link to that syllabus instead. In order to use the Canvas Syllabus Maker for a course that already has a syllabus, you must first clear/remove the syllabus from the Canvas course.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the link. In the meantime, here are a few choice items that are appropriate to have on your syllabus. 

Course Name and Number, Meeting Times, and Location: The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. Your students should be able to find your class with this information.

Instructor Name, Phone Number, Email Address, and Office Hours: The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. Students often struggle with remembering professor’s names. If you add in the bonus information of your phone numbers and email addresses, they will also be able to contact you. Office hours should serve to empower students with meeting with you at the appropriate time, so they can become the greatest scholar of your subject.

Course Objectives: Course objectives help students recognize the relevancy of the subject as well as help you make granular connections to the overall point of the course.

Here are some tips for writing SMART learning objectives: http://ii.library.jhu.edu/2016/07/20/writing-effective-learning-objectives/

Required Texts / Learning Systems: The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. Knowing which textbook to study from can be one of the most important details of any course. Include the author(s) name, and edition, if possible. The Learning System information is for courses that use an online textbook, online homework, or some type of companion course. This might also be a good section to describe how you will use Canvas in your course.

Grading Policy: The faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi.  It’s always nice for a student to know how they’re being evaluated.

Where to Find Extra Help:  College is hard, and some students need extra help.  In this section, you would add information about where students are able to get extra help for your course. On main campus, we have the Math Advancement Center, The Academic Support Center, The Writer’s Den, and other resources available to students. In this section, you would add information about where students are able to get extra help for your course.

Attendance Policy: The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. Some students will hold you to your attendance policies. Be explicit.

Academic Honesty:  The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. The university has a well-established policy in the Florida Tech Student Handbook. Our recommendation is that you link to it. You can find it at http://web2.fit.edu/studenthandbook/print.php#policy_2490   You may also want to add your own two cents about academic honesty. Just remember, the university frowns on the public flogging of students, even those who are less than honest in class.

Title IX: All syllabi are recommended to include the “What is Title IX” information. This information includes clarifications about sexual discrimination, misconduct, and ways to report such issues.

Academic Accommodations:  Students should be made aware of university services that are provided for those needing accommodations and how to contact the Office of Disability Services.

Special Considerations for This Course: This area would provide a space for anything that is particular to the course that wasn’t mentioned earlier.

Lecture and Assignment Schedule:  The Faculty Handbook requires this section in all syllabi. Luckily, Canvas will automatically add assignment due dates to the Syllabus section after they are included in the Assignment section. When your assignments are included in Canvas’ Assignment section, they are automatically placed on each student’s Canvas calendar, the Gradebook, and also in the Syllabus section.  The Faculty Handbook also requires an explanation of any term papers, projects or other requirements.

For more information on Florida Tech’s policies on syllabi, click here.

Use the new Canvas Syllabus Maker by clicking here.

If you prefer to edit a hard copy syllabus instead download this Syllabus Template