Syllabus – Suggestions for Creating a Good Syllabus
This page last updated on: May 9, 2019
[Suggestions for revisions always welcome. Send to Dennis Slavin]
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 suggestions as to content and, in some cases, provides links to excerpts from syllabi by colleagues from all three schools, used by permission. (For sample syllabi, see the links at the bottom of this page.) Cutting, pasting, or revising the linked prose for your own syllabus is fine.
NB: Many members of the faculty feel that even when syllabi are posted electronically, hard copies should be distributed and discussed in the first session of the class.
This page is a work in progress. Please send suggestions and additional exemplars (especially if significantly different from those included here) to Associate Provost, Dennis Slavin.
ITEMS TO INCLUDE (EACH IS ELABORATED FURTHER BELOW)
- CONTACT INFORMATION, INCLUDING OFFICE HOURS
- COURSE DESCRIPTION
- LEARNING GOALS
- SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND ACTIVITIES
- LIST OF COURSE MATERIALS
- INSTRUCTIONS FOR BLACKBOARD, BLOGS AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA
- COURSE ASSIGNMENTS
- GRADING CRITERIA AND POLICIES
- ATTENDANCE AND LATENESS POLICIES
- POLICIES FOR MAKE-UP EXAMS
- CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT POLICIES
- STATEMENT REGARDING ACADEMIC HONESTY
- DISABILITIES STATEMENTS
- INFORMATION ON WRITING AND OTHER ACADEMIC SUPPORT AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS
ITEM 1: CONTACT INFORMATION
• Name of the instructor
• Name of the course (Marketing Foundations), course number (MKT 3000) and section marker (e.g., CMW)
• Office location (carrel if part time)
• Office hours
– A rule of thumb for full-time faculty is to schedule at least one office 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 receive pay for an additional hour per week. Use of that hour as a regular office hour is possible; this should be discussed with the department chair.
• Email address
– A helpful approach is to indicate the days/hours when you are most likely to check email and respond.
– State whether assignments are acceptable digitally (via email or Blackboard or Blog@Baruch).
– Office phone and/or other numbers at discretion of instructor.
– May indicate the times when the instructor is most likely to check for messages.
• Fax number
– Indicate whether and under what conditions faxed assignments will be accepted.
ITEM 2: COURSE DESCRIPTION(content/goals/objectives/themes)
Description of the course content, goals and/or objectives is helpful. Generic descriptions are available from the Baruch College Bulletin (UG or G), but individual faculty members might like to present alternative descriptions. These should be congruent with those in the Bulletin. (If the course has evolved away from the Bulletin description significantly, the description should be changed for the next edition.) Descriptions employed in different sections of multi-section courses should be similar.
ITEM 3: LEARNING GOALS
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, the theoretical concepts covered in class; summarize the reasons for [ x ]; cite five [y ]; 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, contrast, 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.
ITEM 4: SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND ACTIVITIES
Schedules can be general (just the topic)or specific (with designated reading/study questions etc.). Specificity, when feasible, 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
• when assignments/papers are due
• when exams will be given and what they will cover
• date by which a course needs to be dropped by the student to receive a grade of W–a non-predjuicial withdrawal. This link contains some sample class schedules.
ITEM 5: COURSE MATERIALS
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 Baruch College Bookstore, located on the first floor of the Vertical Campus. Prices for new and used (and rented) books at the Bookstore are competitive and ordering books is easy, and students may use their financial aid there. Asking off-campus stores to stock books for your courses means that your students will be inconvenienced by having to purchase books at more than one location. See the “Bookstore” entry in the Faculty Handbook for information on ordering through the College Bookstore.
ITEM 6: REFERENCES TO BLACKBOARD OR OTHER ONLINE MATERIALS
Follow this link for examples of how some colleagues refer to Blackboard sites on their syllabi. Blackboard allows instructors to create, deliver, and manage web-based educational technologies for courses. Blackboard course pages are easy to create. Instructors use built-in templates to create announcements quizzes, and external links. Other course materials can be created in a similar fashion, or can be written using any software you choose, and then uploaded into the Blackboard course site. For more information on Blackboard contact Kevin.Wolff@baruch.cuny.edu. 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, contact the Center for Teaching and Learning.
ITEM 7: COURSE ASSIGNMENTS
(assignments, examinations, presentations, etc.)
The nature and number of course requirements should be spelled out. 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.
ITEM 8: GRADING CRITERIA AND POLICIES
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 “Grading” entry in the Faculty Handbook. 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. This link takes you to a discussion of why “participation” (explicitly labeled “contribution”) may be so important for some classes.
ITEM 9: ATTENDANCE AND LATENESS POLICIES
An attendance policy is up to the faculty member, within reason. Extreme, arbitrary policies (e.g., a single absence will mean an F for the course) will be subject to appeal. Attendance and lateness clearly play a role in class participation. Instructors have the right to weigh attendance, lateness, and class participation in determining grades. 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.
Some students observe religious holidays. (A list of holidays compiled each year by the City of New York may be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/alternate-side-parking.shtml.) Please take religious holidays 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.
ITEM 10: POLICY REGARDING MAKE-UP EXAMS
When a student who is otherwise passing a course misses the final exam, s/he should be given the grade s/he has 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 or D). The student should not be given an INC (Incomplete) unless he or she has 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) 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. (See the Bulletin or the “Grading” entry in the Faculty Handbook for more information on grades.)
ITEM 11: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT POLICIES
Behavior acceptable elsewhere might not be appropriate in classrooms. Faculty members have discretion in this regard and should make clear what the boundaries are–and not necessarily only in classes for freshmen. 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. This link contains some examples (from freshmen syllabi) of faculty statements on classroom management. For more extended discussion of classroom management, see the “Classroom Management” page in the Faculty Handbook.
ITEM 12: STATEMENT(S) REGARDING ACADEMIC HONESTY
Faculty approaches to these issues 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. To enable the college to keep track of first time violators, names should be communicated to the Office of the Dean of Students. Here are links to more on Baruch College policies and to examples of how the issue of academic honesty is approached on some colleagues’ syllabi.
ITEM 13: DISABILITIES STATEMENTS
The Provost circulates a memo each semester that discusses the colleges policies regarding students with disabilities based on the principle of reasonable accommodation. The memo contains a paragraph meant to be read aloud to students. Copying and pasting that paragraph into a syllabus could be very helpful to students with disabilities. The Provost’s memo is available here.
ITEM 14: INFORMATION ON WRITING AND OTHER ACADEMIC SUPPORT AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS
Baruch College offers a wide range of services including tutoring, support for writing and speaking English clearly, general acdemic advisement. For a more complete list and description, see:
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Several of the links above are to excerpts from syllabi prepared by the colleagues listed below. We are indebted to them for their willingness go public. The complete syllabus for each course is linked below:
Additional syllabi have been posted below in the order received. As mentioned above, please feel free to send syllabi significantly different from those included here to Associate Provost, Dennis Slavin.