A syllabus is among the materials an instructor will distribute to students during the first week of classes each semester. It provides an outline of instructor/student/course learning outcomes/expectations and requirements. Syllabi are kept on file in department and deans’ offices each semester.
Required and sample syllabus topics are included here for your reference in developing syllabi for your courses. These topics are universally pertinent to effective classroom management and communication with students. Instructors will add to the content of their syllabi as individual courses, disciplines, and departments require. Department chairs should provide further guidance and requirements for syllabi content as part of the chairs’ training for instructors.
“Writing a Syllabus” (Howard B. Altman, University of Louisville; William E. Cashin, Kansas State University) is the primary source for the following syllabus topics. Their article has been abridged to selected topics and topics added to meet Buffalo State College expectations and recommendations for faculty.
Refer to DOPS Course Procedures and Grading Policies
The following sections list major content areas that Buffalo State faculty are expected to include in their syllabi.
The bare minimum is to repeat the description in the college catalog. A paragraph describing the general content of the course is useful. Information about instructional methods, e.g., large lecture with small discussion sections, may also be included here.
Learning outcomes for each course are found on the Senate-approved course proposal, and are to be included on the syllabus. Additional learning outcomes for Intellectual Foundations 2014 (IF 14) should be included for IF-designated courses.
Some instructors who have developed detailed instructional objectives include them in their syllabi. Information of general course goals (e.g., the learning and application of the general principles of..., or the development of the skill..., or the development of a more positive attitude toward...) can help orient the student to the purpose of the course, the instructor's expectations, etc.
At Buffalo State, often a one-sentence statement, e.g., This course will initiate students into all phases of the writing process and prepare students for College Writing II.
Buffalo State faculty are urged to use the following sample text in their course materials distributed to students at the start of each semester.
Statement of Procedures Regarding Disruptive Individuals
Disruptive behavior by students in my class will not be tolerated. Whenever I deem a student to be acting in a disruptive or threatening manner, I will exercise my right to ask that individual to leave the classroom. If refused, I will exercise my right to notify University Police. The responding officer will determine whether an arrest should be made or whether a referral to medical or counseling staff is appropriate. If a student is perceived as a danger to himself, herself, or others, the dean of students may propose an interim suspension until a hearing is held. Any student removed from class will have the right to a hearing. (Source: Bulletin, November 30, 2000)
Notice to Faculty Regarding the Students of Concern Care Team:
From time to time, you may encounter a fellow student in class who raises concern over uncertainty about his or her mental health or about possible harm to self or others. You should be aware that Buffalo State has a Students of Concern Care Team to assist and support students in time of difficulty. The team encourages students to inform their professors about the reasons for their concern or to submit an online report explaining those concerns at the students of concern online reporting form.
The team encourages you to report any student of concern so that guidance and support can be provided. Reporting can be done in a confidential manner and will be viewed as supporting our shared goal of ensuring a safe environment for all. Questions about responding to students of concern should be addressed with your professor or in the Dean of Students Office, Campbell Student Union 311, 878-4618.
Disability Services Office: Directing Students for Assistance
Buffalo State faculty should use the following statement in their course syllabi.
Any student who requires accommodations to complete the requirements and expectations of this course because of a disability is invited to make his or her needs known to the instructor and to the director of the Disabilities Services Office, South Wing 120, (716) 878-4500.
This topic is often treated as a separate topic area. The syllabus should address questions related to cheating, plagiarism, and other violations of academic integrity. At Buffalo State, it is sufficient for the syllabus simply to refer students to the Academic Misconduct Policy.
Many students actually do not know what constitutes plagiarism. We owe it to students to explain what is considered to be plagiarism or cheating. Resources to use with students are available on the professional development website. A statement outlining formal college policies and procedures to be followed in cases of alleged academic misconduct will be on file in each dean’s office, in the Academic Standards Office, and in the Student Life Office.
Buffalo State has a campuswide license to Turnitin for unlimited submissions of student papers for plagiarism detection.
At Buffalo State College, class attendance policy is established by the individual instructor. Syllabi should indicate whether regular attendance is required, requested, optional, etc., and indicate the specific consequences of unexcused absences from class, e.g., lower grade, request for explanation, expectation that the work will be made up, or action consistent with the total course performance, etc. The instructor is required to distribute copies of his or her attendance policy to each student within the first week of class. Copies must be filed with the department chair and dean. See DOPS Course Procedures and Grading Policies for more information.
In heading of syllabus:
College-level instruction is heavily dependent upon the use of print material; if not a required textbook, then a variety of readings. These are becoming increasingly costly. The syllabus should provide students with detailed information about the following:
This section may include assignments and due dates.
Some instructors are concerned that, if they include a daily or weekly schedule of topics to be covered, they can be held legally liable if they depart from it. One remedy for this is to state that the schedule is tentative and subject to change depending upon the progress of the class. If we expect students to meet our deadlines, and to plan their work, we must give them the information needed for such planning.
The calendar or schedule should also include the dates for exams, quizzes, or other means of evaluation. (Such a statement does not imply that all evaluation of students must be in groups and at the same time. A course in college teaching might require that the students be video recorded while teaching a class, so the syllabus could say “to be scheduled individually.”)
The calendar should also include due dates for major assignments, for example, when papers are due, if topics have to be approved and when, if/when outlines or drafts are due as interim steps, etc. Any required special events need to be included in the calendar, e.g., a lecture by a visiting speaker, a dramatic or musical performance, a field trip.
Finally, it is helpful for students to be made aware of registration deadlines (e.g., drop, pass/fail, course withdrawal, leave of absence,) in course syllabi, either by way of referring students to the academic calendar or by transcribing the dates into course syllabi.
Most college courses have available to the students a considerable variety of instructional support services. The library is probably the oldest resource, and perhaps still the richest. Therefore, it would be appropriate to include a brief statement in the syllabus identifying collections, journals, abstracts, audio or video materials, etc. that the library carries that are relevant to the course, as well as identifying the library website and electronic resources. Making students aware of the services of the Academic Skills Center can be of real benefit to students, as can be identifying computer labs and technology resources available to them. Many courses have other support services unique to them. Briefly describe in the syllabus what is available, or tell students where they can get detailed information.
Please take time to review the Your Students section of the faculty handbook, devoted to providing faculty with a list of student support services, and refer and recognize your students appropriately.
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