We often think of the syllabus as a contract between faculty and student. Dr. Lolita Paff, Professor of Business and Economics at Penn State Berks, thinks this may actually foster a negative learning environment. In Mary Bart’s A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the tone for Learnings she describes another approach to the syllabus that she thinks creates a better beginning to her classes. Her syllabus is written in a friendlier tone that conveys that she and her students are embarking on an adventure together.
Magna Publications offers a free podcast, “Changing the Conversation about the Syllabus” and offers a copy of her course syllabus. You can listen to the free podcast by signing up at Magna Publications.
Here are some other resources (both traditional and more radical) that you might find helpful when considering a redesign of your syllabus.
- Michigan State University Office of Faculty and Organizational Development: Syllabus Design. They offer a well-organized MSU Syllabus Checklist which can assist you in developing or modifying your syllabi.
- Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critcal Approach to Classroom Culture, August 2014. A radical look at the syllabus.
- Envisioning the Radical Syllabus: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture, Part 2, January 2015
- Carnie Mellon Eberly Center Design and Teach a Course: Write the Syllabus
- Academic Technologies from UTEP: New Approaches to Syllabus Design (I haven’t been able to track down more than this interesting PDF, which isn’t even dated, but it does give one reason to pause and rethink the design of the syllabus). In this short PDF they talk about ‘take away’ version of the syllabi like bookmarks, puzzles and small booklets. Interesting.