Other Syllabus Considerations

Assignments and Grading

The syllabus should include a listing of all assignments, homework, quizzes, exams, papers, and their relationship to the grading scale. While instructors may take numerous unique approaches to formulating their grade scale, it is important that it is clearly communicated to the student. In addition, if the professor intends to use a curve on exams or provide opportunities for extra credit these should be clearly articulated in the syllabus as well (for more on grading see Nilson, 2010, pp. 301-314; Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014, pp. 125-134).

Class and College Policies

Professors will want to outline class policies regarding attendance, tardiness, and incivility. The university or college may also have policies regarding attendance that must be adhered to. This is also the opportunity to state the policy for making up missed exams or assignments and any associated penalties with their delay. Other policies include any safety procedures, support services, disability accommodations, as well as academic dishonesty and plagiarism rules, in which case your institution likely possesses standardized language to be used in the syllabus (Nilson, 2010).  

Course Outline

Generally the last, but perhaps most useful, section of the syllabus will be the course outline. The outline can vary in detail by instructor, but generally it will contain a listing of the dates of the class, topics to be covered on a given date, and any readings, assignments, or exams associated with those dates. It’s important to recognize any holidays and breaks on the outline as well. 

In addition to the course title, professor contact, description, learning objectives, required textbooks, assignments, grading scale, policies, and outline; some may choose to include a bibliography of related readings, a legal disclaimer, and a copy of your biography and/or teaching philosophy (Nilson, 2010).

Recommended Readings

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Baker, W. M., Holocomb, J. E., & Baker, D. B. (2016). An assessment of the relative importance of criminal justice learning objectives. Journal of Criminal Justice Education. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/10511253.2016.1172650

Grunert O’Brien, J., Mills, B. J., & Cohen, M. W. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (14th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.