Aug 13, 2018
The syllabus is a key document in any college course. But do we really pay close attention to it? In this extended bonus episode, host Kevin Patton tells listeners how to make a syllabus easy to READ and easy to RAID, so that students really will use it to guide them.
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There is a peculiar aesthetic
pleasure in constructing the form of a syllabus, or a book of
essays, or a course of lectures. Visions and shadows of people and
ideas can be arranged and rearranged like stained-glass pieces in a
window, or chessmen on a board.
A. S. Byatt
(0:58) It's a BONUS episode, meaning that you get bonus minutes, meaning that it's a really, really long episode!
(3:03) Do students read the syllabus? Maybe half? It's the other half who drive us nuts. Wait! do we always read the directions before asking questions?
What is a syllabus? It can be different things, right? Why do administrators seem to love the syllabus so much?
(11:09) Some general considerations when designing a syllabus include make sure that students can both read the syllabus through, and raid the syllabus for key information when they need it. The key is simplicity and logic in syllabus design.
(25:36) Is it just "here's the syllabus; see ya next class"—or is it an engaged look at important syllabus elements? The first day of class is key to starting things off on a good foot. What I learned from Krista, Michael, and Richard—and my own sideways twist on those first steps. What about a syllabus quiz? Is that a good or bad idea?
(44:24) What exactly goes into a syllabus? Who decides? What are the essentials? This isn't comprehensive, but it gets you
(57:47) Frank O'Neill recommends video walk-throughs, which have the added benefit of letting students know that you really do care about them. Consider also a table contents, abstract/summary, and/or index if the syllabus is long. How about a disclaimer, some playful tidbits, and links to external resources. And make sure your supervisors know what's in your syllabus!
(1:09:38) Consider putting hyperlinks or URLs in the syllabus to take students to other resources. Consider linking to a FAQ page, wher you explain your rationals for doing things the way that you do them in your course.
(1:18:07) Final thoughts. Okay, no real thoughts. Just be glad you made it this far!
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