A syllabus helps communicate course content, methods, and goals, as well as what we expect of our students and how we will evaluate them. There are many approaches to creating syllabi, but college-wide discussions of teaching at Baruch suggest some consensus around many of the items that should appear there. This website advances the list of required items that was approved by the Faculty Senate in October 2022, offers suggestions, and eventually will provide links to excerpts from syllabi by colleagues from all three schools, used by permission and further information about each of the listed items below. Cutting, pasting, or revising the linked prose for your own syllabus is fine.
The Baruch College Faculty Senate voted to recommend the following syllabus requirements at its plenary meeting on October 6, 2022 on the recommendation of the Cross-College Curriculum Committee. The Office of the Provost has approved the recommendations and notes that they are applicable to all class levels.
Documents containing course information and guidelines for undergraduate courses (including syllabi) taught at Baruch College must contain, discuss, or in some way mention the following:
- General Information
- Course Number & Section
- Course Modality
- Meeting Times & Place
- Instructor Contact Information
- Student Drop-in Hours
- Course Platform(s)
- Course Description
- Course Readings & Materials
- Course Requirements
- Contact Information for Office of Dean of Students
- Course Mechanics
- Weekly Prep
- Instructions for managing modalities, meetings, platforms, materials
- Course Policies
- Paper/Assignment Policies
- Late Submission Policy
- Attendance Policy
- Plagiarism and Academic Honesty Policy
- Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
- Learning Goals
- Course Learning Goals
- Program Learning Goals
- Grading Scheme(s)
- Grading Rubric(s)
- Course Schedule
Many colleagues feel that even when syllabi are posted electronically, hard copies should be distributed and discussed in the first session of the class.
Full-time faculty should schedule at least one such hour on each teaching day; many faculty members also indicate availability by appointment. Faculty are expected to post office hours outside their offices and to be available during those hours.
Adjunct faculty teaching six or more hours in a given semester are expected to hold a regular drop-in/office hour; this should be discussed with the department chair.
Indicating the days/hours when you are most likely to check email and respond is very helpful.
State whether assignments are acceptable digitally (e.g., via email or Blackboard or Blogs@Baruch).
Office phone and/or other numbers are at discretion of instructor. A best practice is to indicate the times when you are most likely to check for messages.
Description of the course content and learning goals is a syllabus requirement. These must be congruent with those in the Bulletin. (If the course has evolved away from the Bulletin description significantly, the published description should be changed; this requires action by the curriculum committees.) Descriptions employed in different sections of multi-section courses should be similar.
All syllabi should include learning goals – clear indications of what your students will leave the course being able to do (e.g., “At the end of this course you will be able to…” “…identify, describe, and compare and contrast…summarize the reasons for [ x ]” “…cite five indications that…” etc.). Good learning goals make your expectations of students clear. Choosing the right active verb is helpful, such as: cite, define, describe, identify, list, arrange, classify, defend, explain, apply, change, demonstrate, interpret, analyze, calculate, debate, outline, solve, assemble, compare, contrast, criticize, evaluate, interpret, justify… etc. Some further guidelines (and more verbs) for writing learning goals. Courses that meet in multiple sections should have the same learning goals. If you don’t know the goals for a course you’ve been asked to teach, ask the department chair or the course coordinator.
Schedules can be general (just the topic)or specific (with designated reading/study questions etc.). Specificity, allows students to budget their time and to plan their off-campus work schedule. Your schedule may be presented as provisional, subject to revision as the semester progresses.
Items that might appear include:
- what will be covered/what preparation (e.g., reading) is expected for each class session
- when assignments/papers are due
- when exams will be given and what they will cover
Books and other materials required, recommended, or on reserve in the library should be listed, with editions specified as appropriate. The most convenient place for Baruch students to buy textbooks is the “Bearcat Bookstore,” our students’ method of gaining access to the college’s online system for purchasing textbooks and Baruch-related merchandise. Prices for new, used, and rented books are competitive, ordering books is easy, and students may use their financial aid there.
CUNY’s Learning Management System (LMS) is called Blackboard. It allows instructors to create, deliver, and manage web-based educational technologies for courses. Instructors can use built-in templates to create announcements quizzes, and external links. It also includes a grading roster that allows faculty to keep track of all of their students’ grades on their assignments and for students to do so for themselves. Please see the user guides here. The Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC) holds training sessions in the use of Blackboard.
Some members of the faculty prefer Blogs@Baruch to Blackboard (or use both). For more information on B@B, see https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/
Course requirements, policies and assignments must be clearly described. Clarifying the purpose of a requirement (to make sure the student has read and comprehended a text, to develop communication skills, to test the students ability to synthesize information, to develop the students capacity to work together, etc.) can result in better student work.
The fairest way to grade is to establish and communicate grading criteria from the start and to follow those criteria as systematically and objectively as possible. The weighting of specific assignments/examinations is often expressed as a percentage of the total grade. Overwhelming emphasis on a single examination or paper, especially at the end of the semester, makes it difficult for students to learn from errors.
For information on our grades and what they mean see the several entries under “Grading” in the Faculty Handbook. https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/faculty-handbook/#g
When class participation figures in determining the grade (many instructors point out that good participation cannot take place without prompt attendance), the instructor should communicate her/his expectations and, perhaps, the rationale.
Within reason, attendance policies are up to the faculty member. Extreme or arbitrary policies (e.g., a single absence will mean an F for the course) will be subject to appeal. Instructors have the right to weigh attendance, lateness, and class participation in determining grades so long as policies are spelled out clearly on the syllabus. For example, if attendance (or lateness) informs your grading, you must do it systematically, apply the results consistently to all students in a class, and state your policies in your syllabi. The same is true for participation: if it informs grading, it should be assessed consistently according to a rubric that apprises students of your expectations and appears in your syllabi.
The appropriate grade for a student who stops coming to class and does not take the final exam (or hand in a final paper or other project) is a WU. If the student does appear for the exam, they must be allowed to take it and the grade must be determined according to the grading rubric/percentages set out in the syllabus.
Some students observe religious holidays. (A list of such holidays compiled each year CUNY is here: https://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/hr/recruitment-diversity/diversity-inclusion/ .) Please take religious observances into consideration in scheduling exams and assignments: we must permit those who observe religious holidays an opportunity to make up any missed assignments or exams; students are responsible for making up any missed work.
When a student who is otherwise passing a course misses the final exam, she or he should be given the grade they have earned: in other words, if the exam is worth 30% of the grade and the student received straight A’s on all of the other work of the course, he or she has earned a grade of 70% (presumably a C-). The student should not be given an INC (Incomplete) unless they have arranged with the instructor in advance to turn in work or to take an exam late. INC is not the correct grade to use if a student simply does not appear for a final or does not turn in a final paper. Students who have earned an INC must take a make-up exam (or turn in a paper if that is what they missed) no later than the end of the following semester to avoid the INC automatically turning into an F (technically FIN). For exams missed during the semester, faculty may schedule make-ups at their discretion. Not offering make-ups or other arrangements (such as averaging grades from other exams) risks penalizing students for documented illness
Behavior acceptable elsewhere might not be appropriate in classrooms, including virtual classrooms. Faculty members should make clear what the boundaries are. Some of the classroom behaviors that are subject to faculty discretion include seating (assigned general seating; a separate area for late arrivals), eating, sleeping, private conversations, use of cell phones and other technology (one can restrict use of laptops to the taking of notes), use of dictionaries–especially during exams, etc. For more extended discussion of classroom management, see the “Classroom Management” page in the Faculty Handbook.
Faculty approaches to syllabus statements on academic honesty range from explanations of the centrality of honesty to the academic process to threats of punishment if the student is caught cheating or plagiarizing. Students should understand these issues from the start of the semester, including definitions of cheating and plagiarism. (Discussion works best, but instructors may refer students to the college’s own definitions and ask them to certify that they have read and understood them.) If a student commits an act of academic dishonesty and admits to it, the sanction is usually up to the faculty member, but the range of potential sanctions must be spelled out in the syllabus. To enable the college to keep track of first time violators, names should be communicated to the Office of the Dean of Students. The dean’s office will follow up. Here are links to more on Baruch College policies related to academic integrity.
Please provide information on your syllabus and read to your class:
Baruch College has a continuing commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who may need some accommodation in order to fully participate in this class should contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646/312-4590.
Disability.email@example.com may be used for all disability matters, excluding exam proctoring. Students will be advised by SDS to submit their completed Exam Proctor Request form using the new email (below). When we receive the Exam Proctor Form (from the Student, NOT the Instructor) we will then email the instructor from the new email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm exam details, and to request the exam. Please look out for the new email in your inbox, and reply to SDS as requested.
Please feel free to reach out to SDS at any time. We are here to assist. 646/312-4590, NVC-2/272, email@example.com Lillian Shmulevich, Associate Director, can be reached for questions and consultations.
Baruch College offers a wide range of services including tutoring, support for writing and speaking English clearly, general academic advisement, and counseling services. For a more complete list and description, see… https://provost.baruch.cuny.edu/messages/support-services-for-students-2/
…and feel free to include information from that list on your syllabus for your students.