Faculty

Standardized Syllabus Template


To:           Faculty of the College of Pharmacy

From:      Educational Policy Committee

Date:       July 15, 2003

Re:           Encouraging Course Syllabus Development, Fall Semester 2003

“A syllabus can serve students as a model of professional thinking and writing.  If it is clearly written, organized, helpful, appropriately humorous, thoughtful, and perfect in style and grammar, it conveys to students that the instructor values these qualities.” 1                                                      

A syllabus functions as a contractual agreement between the faculty member(s) and the students enrolled in the course.  Further, it provides documentation about the level, scope, and depth of the course.  “By providing details of what is covered, what students are expected to do, and how these outcomes and performances will be assessed, syllabi can be quite helpful in efforts to evaluate both individual instructors and entire programs.”1 Students become empowered to provide input during the course offering.   Lastly, it functions to provide students with information that will encourage and nurture their development as learners.

The course syllabus lays out the direction of the course in terms of content and procedures.  It is an evolving document (e.g., moving an examination date, incorporating additional content prn) as circumstances dictate.  The syllabus should answer all of the questions a student may have about the course.  Faculty are encouraged to go over the syllabus thoroughly during the first meeting of the course.

 

DRAFT - EPC WORKING DOCUMENT
 

THE COURSE SYLLABUS

COURSE NUMBER AND TITLE

General components of a syllabus:

  • General Information:

  • Course Coordinator name (including pronunciation and how he/she prefers to be addressed [Professor...., Dr. ..........])

  • Office location; Office Telephone Number (including secretary’s name and telephone number); email address

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant(s) Name(s) and his/her (their) email addresses

  • For team taught courses, list all involved teaching faculty along with their telephone numbers and email addresses.  It would also be helpful to list their preferred method to be contacted by the student.

List those times that the Coordinator will have office hours and/or the best time he/she can be reached.  If an appointment will be needed to meet with the Coordinator, indicate the best way to schedule an appointment (email, personal contact, secretary, etc.)

  • Overall Course Philosophy/Teaching Philosophy (Note Appendices A & B).

  • Course Objectives: list your course objectives in this section

  •  Behavioral or performance-based objectives allow the student to understand what he/she will be expected to do and learned at the end of the course (i.e., student outcomes).

  • Emphasize that the evaluation mechanisms employed will reflect the objectives established for the course.

  • Course Mechanics

  •  Indicate that students will be held to all College and University policies

  • Indicate when and where the course will meet and if there are any prerequisites.

  •   Attendance policy

  1. Clearly state whether attendance will be mandatory or not; if it is mandatory, the consequences for not coming to class or how attendance will be measured

  2. Share your policy for absences due to unforeseen events (e.g., death in the family).   Is a note of explanation required (e.g., physician’s note for illness)?  By what date should the student notify the Course Coordinator?   Does the student have to notify the Office of Student Affairs as well?

  3. Share your policy for excused absences (e.g., religious holidays -  see appendix D for University policy) including attendance at local, regional, national pharmacist organization meetings (see the following website for College of Pharmacy guidelines: http://www.uic.edu/pharmacy/offices/osa/OffCampus.htm). How is the work to be made up?   By what date should the student notify the Course Coordinator (e.g., ten days after the start of the semester)?

  4. State the procedure that students should follow in the event of an anticipated absence (see above).  List the consequences if the policy is not followed.
  • Faculty-student communications (e.g., announcements)
  • Clearly outline how communications will occur.  How will this be accomplished?  In-class? Postings on Blackboard (e.g., reminders to bring lecture notes from previous lecture if it was not completed in the allotted time)?
  • Where will grades be posted (e.g., Blackboard)?  Share with the students if you plan to post lecture notes, handouts, recitation keys, quiz keys, and examination keys.
  • Discuss student professionalism in your class (e.g., course rules, expected student behaviors) (See appendix C)
  • Indicate that he course coordinator reserves the right to make alterations in the course schedule.
  • Devote a section of the syllabus to textbooks and other learning materials (ideally, include current prices to help the student and yourself become aware of the costs).
  • Will the readings from the textbooks be required, “suggested” or complementary readings?  Can any be placed on reserve in the library?
  • Will Web resources be used?
  • What information, if any, from these are “fair game” on an examination?  It may be helpful to direct students to specific pages of required readings.
  • If you are employing a variety of literature sources, consider using:
  1. A course manual (students can purchase this from the bookstore)
  2. Contributed materials (brochures, reprints, etc.)
  • Are you considering optional texts or web materials?  If so, list them and explain how important they are to the course and the material on which students will be tested

 

  • Learning Strategies: How will the classes be conducted?  Will there be a pattern for each class?  Share your desire to create an engaging learning environment.
  • What types of learning techniques will be used in the course?

  • Describe the blending of “in class” learning with outside activities, if applicable.

  • Describe your expectations for student participation and, if applicable, how much of this activity will contribute to the students’ course grade.

  • Provide clarification of the intent of class assignments.

  • Will there be review sessions?  If yes, when and where?

 

  • Methods of Evaluation and Grading Scale
  • Explain in-class learning activities and their contribution to the course grade (e.g., does class participation count toward one’s grade?)
  • List course assignments and due dates.  How much do these contribute to the earned course grade?
  • List examination dates, including format.  How will these be administered?  What will examinations test, e.g., knowledge, comprehension, application, synthesis, logic?  How important is the lecture content versus the textbook versus the other activities when studying for the examination?   It is important to share with the students throughout the course, what portion of each lecture presentation is weighted on the examination (e.g., two questions from each lecture).

    1. If the examination is essay in nature, will there be any point deductions for writing mechanics (e.g., spelling, syntax, clarity)?
    2. Address your procedures in the event of a missed examination and your examination appeal process (e.g., regrade).
    3. Will the quizzes and examinations be returned to the students?   If so, when?  If not, may students have the opportunity to review their quizzes and examination in some way?  Will there be at least a quiz key posted if time constraints prohibit a quiz from being graded and handed back to the students in time for their preparation of an examination?  During the semester, will students be informed if examinations, including the final, will be cumulative?  If cumulative, will they be directed to specific content areas that will be emphasized?
  • What is the course point distribution for earning a specific letter grade?
  1. Will you grade straight scale (e.g., 90% = A) or use a curve?   Is there a minimum % required of total points to pass the course (e.g., < 60% = E).  

 

  • Course schedule of events (e.g., lecture topics, recitation topics, assignments, room location/s) should demonstrate cohesiveness and integration toward the achievement of course objectives.  Having the due dates of assignments listed is extremely helpful.  Present course assignments (with due dates) in a logical, organized manner. 

 

  • Optional resources available for students

  • Will a World Wide Web Site be used for posting ( e.g., Blackboard)

  • Will audiotapes of lecture presentations be available for students who unavoidably miss a class?

  • Will there be readings on reserve in the library?

            1.      Class notes and assignments?

            2.      PowerPoint Slides?

            3.      Complementary readings?

 

  • Maintenance of confidentiality in the course

  • How will assignments and examinations be returned to the students?

  • For special needs students (e.g., disabilities), as per University policy:

  1. The student is responsible to demonstrate and/or obtain a document from an appropriate professional about the existence of a disability and how it affects participation in programs, courses, employment, or experiential activities.   This document is given to the professionals in the Office of Disabilities Services.

  2. Include the following statement in the syllabus of your course:

“To obtain academic accommodations for this course, students with disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Services and the instructor in charge as soon as possible or within a set number of days once the course begins).   The student will need to contact Disability Services at 1-312-413-2183 (voice) or 1-312-413-0123 (TYY).”

Disabled students have the right to request and receive through the Office of Disability Services current documentation that supports requests for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and auxiliary aids and services. 

                   NOTE: The Office of Disability Services (http://www.uic.edu/depts/counselctr/disability/diswebpg.htm) maintains a web page that can be accessed directly from the UIC webpage (note upper right hand corner of this page).  The links include, “Services for Prospective and Currently Enrolled Students,” “Rights and Responsibilities,” and “The Faculty ‘Toolbox’.”

 

  • Use seating arrangements for administration of course examinations, quizzes, etc.

  • Clearly outline the consequences of how academic dishonesty will be dealt with if it occurs.

 

  • Consider making the syllabus a binding agreement by having the last page be a brief contract that the student signs and hands in: “I have read this syllabus, understand its implications (and have sought clarification of those parts that were unclear to me), and will abide by it.”  I understand that the course coordinator has the right to make alterations to the class and exam schedule as needed.

Signature of Student: ________________             Date__________

  • Indicate how soon the student has to sign and return this.
  • Where should the student hand in this signed statement (e.g., your campus office mailbox, in class, submitted online as a Blackboard survey)?
  • Is there a penalty levied for not submitting it in within a specified period of time?  If so, what is the penalty (e.g., three points will be lost for each day this signed statement is not handed in, including weekend days). 

 



Reading List:

1Parkes J, Harris MB.  “The purposes of the syllabus,” College Teaching 2002;50(#2):55-61.

2Ludewig LM.  “Student perceptions of instructor behaviors,” Teaching Professor  1993;7(#4):1.

3

Fisch L.  “Seven principles of teaching seldom taught in graduate school”  Teaching Professor 1993;7(#4):1-2.


APPENDIX A.

THE TOP TEN (PLUS TWO) FACULTY BEHAVIORS THAT ARE MOST ANTITHETICAL (i.e., THE OPPOSITE) TO THE TEACHING-LEARNING ENTERPRISE:2 

10.       Require a textbook and then fail/never use it.

9.         Assume students already know a base knowledge for the course.

8.         Get behind and then cram your lecture into the remaining time.

7.         Give examinations that do not correspond to the lecture material.

6.         Deliver your lecture in a monotone voice.

5.         Create “trick” questions for the examinations.

4.         Do not be specific about what the examination will encompass.

3.         Make students feel inferior and/or intimidated when they ask questions.

2.         Lecture too fast and fail to slow down when requested.

1.         Assign work as though your course is the only one the students are enrolled or at the very least the most important one.

1A.       Make the final examination cumulative and weight it >40% for the course grade.

1B.       Administer a cumulative final examination and only ask questions from less than 25% of the lectures.


APPENDIX B.

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF TEACHING3 THAT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BEAR IN MIND WHEN TEACHING!!!!!

1.   You do not have to know all of the answers.   Be human!!!!

2.   One of the best things that can happen to you is to occasionally lose your notes.  It forces one to “rethink” the process although the time spent looking for notes is very disconcerting (i.e., a safe and secret place).

3.   Create a balance between what is realistic to teach versus “jamming everything in.”

4.   One response that always can be used to answer every educational question is, “It all depends........”

5.   Cartoon characters can often express things more effectively than faculty.

6.   It is alright to have occasionally a bad day; just never allow yourself to have two bad days in a row.

7.   Do not take things, especially yourself, too seriously.

 


APPENDIX C.

CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFESSIONALISM

1.         Acts in accord with professional code of ethics

2.         Demonstrates knowledge and skills of a profession.

3.         Commits to self improvement of skills and knowledge.

4.         Available, punctual, and willingly accepts responsibility

5.         Is accountable for his/her work; follows through on assignments

6.         Demonstrates respectful, ethical, and culturally sensitive behavior and decision making.

7.         Is considerate of others; puts others’ interests first.    Service minded.

8.         Demonstrates leadership.

9.         Demonstrates tactfulness and diplomacy.

10.       Demonstrates creativity and innovation.

11.       Accepts and learns from constructive criticism

12.       Demonstrates personal hygiene and wears appropriate attire

13.       Demonstrates pride in the profession.


APPENDIX D.

OBSERVANCE OF RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS

 This policy was approved by the UIC Senate on May 25, 1988, regarding observance of religious holidays:

The faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago shall make every effort to avoid scheduling examinations or requiring that student projects be turned in or completed on religious holidays. Students who wish to observe their religious holidays shall notify the faculty member by the tenth day of the semester of the date when they will be absent unless the religious holiday is observed on or before the tenth day of the semester. In such cases, the student shall notify the faculty member at least five days in advance of the date when he/she will be absent. The faculty member shall make every reasonable effort to honor the request, not penalize the student for missing the class, and if an examination or project is due during the absence, give the student an exam or assignment equivalent to the one completed by those students in attendance. If the student feels aggrieved, he/she may request remedy through the campus grievance procedure.