Design a course syllabus to best meet your teaching style, course content, activities, and departmental requirements. Review NIU's syllabus policy and consider creating a learner-centered syllabus that targets student learning and success!
Include the catalog course description and how the students will benefit from the course, the specific content that will be covered, and how the course fits into the curriculum. In this section, list any pre-requisites associated with the course (actual courses, competencies, requirements, etc.).
Consider including your teaching philosophy or a welcome statement to familiarize students with your approach to teaching and your willingness to guide their learning. You can also include a statement regarding your expectations on students’ responsibility for their learning and your responsibilities as their instructor. Also, this is a good area to add a more informal, personalized course description!
Include a list of the instructional methods you will use in the course (there will be a difference between a face-to-face course versus an online course).
Example: This course is taught using a variety of instructional methods including lecture, class discussion, small group work, projects, online discussion, and group presentations.
Provide a clear explanation of evaluation on the assessment process and measurements. Be explicit! Describe assessment types (quizzes, exams, journals, observations, performances, projects, etc.), how much they will count toward the overall course grade, descriptions of papers and projects and how they will be assessed (criteria, rubrics, etc.), and how the overall grade will be determined.
NOTE: Detailed instructions, job aids, guides, and worksheets can be posted in Blackboard to reduce syllabus page numbers.
Sample course assessment policy: There will be one mid-term examination and one final examination (25% each). Homework assignments will count for 15%, laboratory exercises for 10%, quizzes for 10%, and course project for the remaining 15% of the course grade. Overall course grades will be determined as 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, and 60% = F. Include a point range if it will help your students understand how grades are derived (Ex: 405-450=A, 360-404=B, 315-359=C, 270-314=D, 269=F).
List the required and supplementary resources for the course and other resources such as facilities, laboratories, and studios.
Sometimes it is necessary to make changes to the course syllabus for reasons such as unexpected university closure due to weather-related emergencies or to adjust content based on course and student progress. Therefore, it can be beneficial to include a syllabus change policy statement such as the example below.
Example: This syllabus is a guide and every attempt is made to provide an accurate overview of the course and its requirements. However, certain circumstances may make it necessary for me to modify the syllabus during the semester for your benefit and the changes may depend, in part, on course progress and our needs. I will announce any change to the syllabus as early as possible so that you can adjust your schedule. The department/ school will also be notified of any change.
NOTE: Changes to the syllabus after the fourth week of a course, or deviations from the standards set in the syllabus, can be a basis for grade appeal: Procedures for Appeals of Course Grades by Undergraduate Students.
In accordance with NIU's syllabus policy, suggested statements to be included in NIU course syllabi are available.
Provide a detailed list of meeting dates, major topics that will be covered on those dates, assigned readings, homework assignments and their due dates, schedule of exams, due dates of projects and papers, etc. Use of a table format like the one shown below can help students easily read and follow the course schedule.
Sample Course Schedule Table
|Week||Date||Topic/ Class Content/ Activities||Things to Do and Due Dates|
|1||Mon 1/15||Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. Holiday - No Class||Review course syllabus|
|Wed 1/17||Syllabus and course review; Course profile, Introductions||Review Blackboard course content; Submit Course Profile in Bb by 11:59 p.m.|
|Fri 1/19||Establish groups||Post Bb Discussion #1 by 11:59 p.m.|
|2||Mon 1/22||List topics here||Phase 1 of Assignment 1 in class; Prepare for Quiz 1|
|Wed 1/24||Quiz 1; In-class group work to finalize First Draft of Group Assignment||Quiz 1 on Text chapters 1-3|
|Fri 1/26||List topics here||First Draft Group Assignment at start of class|
To encourage students to read the syllabus and understand course policies and requirements, consider giving them an open-syllabus quiz sometime during the first two weeks of the semester. Quiz students on some of the key information covered in the syllabus, such as your office hours, late work submission policies, etc. Blackboard is an easy way to administer such a quiz and students can complete it in class using their mobile phones.
If your department/school/college policies permit, and you so desire, you could include a “Student Acknowledgement of Course Syllabus” statement to motivate students to read the information on the course syllabus and take the course requirements seriously. This statement can be in the form of an extra sheet placed at the end of the syllabus which students can sign and return to you. The form can also be given as a handout. The following is an example of this statement:Student Acknowledgement of Course Syllabus
Please complete this form and return it to me by <date>)
I, (<name>), have received a copy of the syllabus for
(<course name>) for (<semester, year>). I have read this syllabus and understand that I am responsible for abiding by the course requirements and policies mentioned in the syllabus.
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