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Building your Syllabus

A well-constructed syllabus serves as a "contract" between you and your students by establishing your course goals, communicating expectations up-front, and outlining your respective rights and policies. Follow the guides and examples below to complete the required sections of your syllabus. 

Note: prior to building your syllabus, reach out to your Program Representative for an approved syllabus or syllabus sample.

 

Meeting Times

In this section of the syllabus, identify when and where classes will take place. Typically classes are held online, at a specific location, or both. Note that during this transition to remote instruction, classes will take place online via the Canvas platform.      

You can copy and paste the statement(s) below that best describes your course format into the Meeting Times section:

  • This course takes place fully online.
  • This course takes place fully online with weekly live web conference meetings on DAY at TIME (PT).
  • This course includes online components that supplement your in-person class meetings.
  • This course includes live web conference meetings through the Canvas Conference Room.

 

Contact Information

 For the Contact Information section, provide your:

  • Name
  • Preferred Means of Contact (Email, Phone, Canvas Inbox)
  • Office Hours (if applicable)
  • Statement supporting the privacy rights of students by allowing them to use Canvas Inbox instead of their personal emails:

"Please contact me through the Canvas Inbox."

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Course Description

This section is automatically populated with the description from the Course Catalog. Do not make changes to the course description without the consent of your program department.

If you're developing a course description from scratch, think about the key information a student should know:

  • What are the top three or four topics that a student will learn in this course?
  • What is the primary focus or area of application for skills taught?
  • Who is the ideal “audience” for the course?
  • What is the scope and breadth of a course and what will need to be covered in that period?

Objectives 

The Objectives section defines the broad goals of your course and the skills you intend students to gain. Ask yourself the following questions when mapping out objectives for your course:

  • What will students gain by taking this course?
  • What do I want students to know?
  • What do I want students to care about and reflect on?

Example:

During this course, students will:

    • Gain hands-on experience operating motion picture tools that are necessary to execute the camera operator's job.
    • Apply the principles of color, composition, and typography to create impactful designs for digital and print mediums.

 

Outcomes

Outcomes provide students with specific and measurable ways in which they can meet course goals. Ask yourself the following question, "What do I want my students to do?"

Start with the phrase, "By the end of this course/week, students should be able to..." and include the following three components:

  1. Use an action verb that describes what the student will demonstrate or accomplish. 
  2. Share the context in which they will perform the behavior.
  3. State the standard for which their performance will be measured. 

Example:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Draft an argumentative research paper that demonstrates a command of research methods, grammar, and APA style. 
  • Draft (action verb) an argumentative research paper (context) that demonstrates a command of research methods, grammar, and APA style (standard)

Choosing the Best Action Verb

The action verb you choose should reflect the level of learning you want your students to attain. Always avoid using the verb "understand" since this is too vague. Instead, describe specific ways in which your students can show you that they understood.

The table below shows action verbs associated with each level of learning. Use this as a guide when writing measurable Outcomes.

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Chart adapted from Krathwhol's A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy and UNMC's Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Objectives

 

Materials 

For the Materials section, list any books and/or other materials and software that students are required to purchase. Providing details such as textbook ISBNs can be helpful, as well as information on how to obtain the required materials (e.g., via Amazon link).

For any optional resources you list, please indicate that they are optional. If no materials are required, include a statement such as:

"All materials for this course will be provided within the Modules area of Canvas."

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Evaluation 

The Evaluation section provides students with a clear "roadmap" for how they can successfully complete the course. The Evaluation section is broken down into two subsections - Criteria and Breakdown.

Criteria

The Criteria subsection identifies the graded activities that students are required to complete in the course. It includes a point or percentage value for each activity type. 

Example: 

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 Breakdown

In the Breakdown subsection, provide students with the grading scale for your course (A, B, C, etc.). If you have questions about your grading scale, please contact your program department.

Examples: 

  • UCLA Extension Grading Scale

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  • Grading Scale with +/- Breakdown

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Course Policies

In the Course Policies section, articulate additional policies or “ground rules” for you and your students. In this section, describe your expectations for student behavior and let students know what they can expect from you. Course Policies can address a variety of areas, including:

Attendance Policies 

  • Do you have any attendance policies?
  • Will you penalize absences in the course?
  • Do you require prior notification if a student intends to miss a class? 

Participation 

  • How do you expect students to participate in your course? 
  • Are there multiple options for effective participation?
  • What are your criteria for good participation?
  • Do you have policies regarding how students should collaborate with you and each other?

Assignment Submissions

  • How will students submit their assignments?
  • How and when will assignments become available?
  • Can students complete work early?

Late Work and Extension Policies

  • How do you handle late work submissions or missed assignments?
  • Will you accept work after certain dates (e.g., end of term)?
  • Will you offer make-up assignments?

Grading Policies

  • How will you ensure fair and impartial grading?
  • What can students do if they believe a grade is unfair?
  • What is the process for disputing a grade with you during the course? 
  • What additional information do students need to know about your grading policies?

Note that Incompletes are addressed by the institution in your course syllabus, so you should not address that in your Course Policies. 

 

Schedule

The Schedule section is the roadmap for your course. It includes a weekly breakdown of lesson topics, resources, and activities. You can add/remove rows below to accommodate the length of your own course. 

  • In the Lesson column, include a title or theme that best reflects the week's learning.
  • In the Notes column, include relevant lesson topics, resources, and activities for the week. You can reference the "Evaluation" section of your syllabus.  

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