Anatomy of a Syllabus
Becoming familiar with the expectations of your course
What a syllabus is
Aguideto theacademiccontent (topics)and skills you will be introduced to, and when you will have opportunities to practicethemAdocumentthat states the academic and dispositional requirements and expectations of thecourseAcontractbetween you and your professor
What a syllabus isnot
An agreement that you can negotiate with your professorA document that you read carelessly or ignore, and at the end of the course, say that “I didn’t know I had to ________” or “Nobody explained that I was required to _________.”
Advice from advisors
Read your syllabus carefully, and read it more than once.Ask your professor questions about any part of the syllabus you don’t understand.Transfer important dates and assignments from the syllabus to your planner.Learn to “work backwards”. If you have an assignment due on October 13, when will you need to begin working on it to have a good outcome?Accept the reality that coursework often takes longer than you expect it to. Build in extra time for assignments.
The parts of a syllabus
Course number, section number, course titleSemesterDay and time of class meetingsName of professor/instructorOffice hoursProfessor/instructor contact emailCourse descriptionLearning outcomes (sometimes calledcourse objectives)Required books and other textsAssessment and course requirements (how your professor will evaluate what you have learned in the course)Policies: attendance and lateness, academic integrity, services for students with disabilities, use of cell phones and other electronic devices, eating in classClass schedule
Provides an overview of what the course will explore and often identifies the academic discipline(s) it is situated within“This course will provide an overview of the field of developmental disabilities with a perspective that is interdisciplinary and practical.” (Introduction to Developmental Disabilities)Identifies perspectives and theoretical approaches that will be used and emphasized“We will look at these contributions through the social and political context of American culture from the period of slavery to the present and through a lens of gender, race, class, and sexuality.”(African American Women’s History)Identifies specific academic skills to be developed“The course emphasizes critical reading, thinking, and writing skills as well as various theoretical approaches to the composition of the academic essay.” (Core Humanities 1)
What will you be able to do by the end of the course?“Students will be able to read critically, with close attention to the language of the text.” (Core Humanities 1)“Students will be able to isolate main ideas and theses, both explicit and implicit, recognize argumentation structures, and recognize and use effectively a number of common rhetorical devices.” (Core Humanities 1)“Students will be able to describe the existing and evolving service systems in New York and the implications for families and planning for family members with disabilities.” (Introduction to DevelopmentalDisab.)“Studentswill be able toperiodizeand contextualize some of the defining epochs and eras of the modern, western, intellectual and cultural tradition, from the early modern era to the Scientific Revolution, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, up to and including the Modern and Postmodern periods.” (Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies)
requires beingactive, not passivePrepared—doingassignments thoroughly and ontime; coming to class with readings done; participating in discussions based on the readingsInformed—becoming knowledgeable about the vocabulary and terminology, facts, questions, debates of the subject matter; using tools such as dictionaries, glossaries, maps, etc.Critical—learning how to identify the author’s argument, to ask questions of the texts, examining texts for evidence that supports the author’s argument, to evaluate the soundness of the argumentTolerant—being patient with the process of learning; accepting one’s mistakes and learning fromthem; accepting that learning takes time
Required books and other texts
Considerthe required books, articles, and other textsyour workequipment…if you don’t have your tools, you can’t do thejob!What are your options in addition to purchasing the book?CWE LibraryCohen Library on the main campusOther CUNY librariesGoogle BooksFormer students
Assessment and course requirements
Howwill the professorevaluatewhat you have learned?“Anintroductory essay, plus five formal essays of at least 750 words, each revised once, are required. Essays will be graded only after revision. The averaged grades of these five essays will comprise two-thirds of your final grade. Attendance and participation account for on-third of your final grade.”(Core Humanities 1)“Quizzes: 40%. There will be 13 quizzes.Presentation: 15%Reaction paper to1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus15%Final paper: 30 %”(Latin American and Caribbean Civilization)“Ethnographic Exercise: Gender Socialization (dueOct16)This 2-3 page-paper requires doing fieldwork in a toy store, play ground, or any setting in which youmightobserve adult-child interactions. Observe and analyze how gender norms, roles, and idealsarereflected and reproduced through toys, consumer goods, and socialization. How are genderrolescommunicated to children? What messages about race, class, and consumption are conveyedtochildren?”(Cross-Cultural Perspectives)
At the discretion of each professor, who is considered the classroom expert in her or his fieldYour final grade gives you an overall impression of your progress in the course. However, it does not necessarily enable you to identify the particular skills you may still need to master.The takeaway:ALWAYS carefully read the professor’s comments on any assignment. Ask for feedback. Meet with your professor during office hours to deepen your understanding of your performance on an assignment. Then, IMPLEMENT your professor’s suggestions.
Ensure a fair and orderly learning experience for all studentsAdhere to the academicrules and regulations of City CollegePromote intellectualintegrity—it is unethical to steal the work of othersProvide alevel playing-field for students with disabilities (adherenceto Federal and State law)Create arespectful, orderly, physically and emotionally safe environment that is conducive to the exchange of ideas and the development of students’abilitiesEvery syllabus includes general policies that apply to every course at CWEandthe specific policies of that professor.
Tells you the pace of the classWhat will you explore?What is thesequence of work?When are assignments due?
Your syllabus is a road map