Syllabus

Conveying the coherence of your course learning objectives, assessments, and lessons is done within a syllabus. As the syllabus is often the first point of contact between you and students, it provides you with the opportunity to set a welcoming and positive tone for your course.

  • Keep in mind that students often do not read a syllabus (or know HOW to read a syllabus).
  • Help students understand your syllabus and refer to it often throughout the semester. It should be a living document.
  • Think about the language you use in your syllabus. First generation students and those whose first language is not English may be confused by jargon.
  • Refer to the CSU Faculty Manual Section I: Academic and Legal Matters for more information on what needs to be in your syllabus.
  • What is the tone you want to set? Consider the language you use in your syllabus to set a tone. Using “our” course instead of “my” or “this” invites students in.
  • A learner-centered syllabus helps set the stage for a shared learning environment and shifts the responsibility for teaching to student learning.
  • You may find syllabi with graphics and a Visual Syllabi useful.
  • Best practice requires making your syllabus accessible to all learners. For resources and more information on accessibility and instructors’ responsibility to provide accessible materials when students with documented disabilities need such materials, please CSU’s Policy on Accessibility of Electronic Information and Technologies.

Additional Considerations for Teaching Online

While most of the information on teaching effectiveness pertains to both RI and online classrooms, following are a few key points for online courses.

  • A syllabus for an online course may contain some additional information (technology requirements, netiquette rules, information about how the course shell is set up, etc.).
  • A fully online course (or even an RI course that uses the learning management system (LMS)) also gives you the opportunity to incorporate your syllabus in ways that you might not in an RI class:
    • Send announcements for each module that connect what students will do in that module to meet the module objectives, instructions or other important reminders on the syllabus.
    • Reference and link to your syllabus from other pages, assignments and discussions in the LMS.
    • Create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page in the LMS so that students have that information handy.
    • If your syllabus is too long (hint-most are), consider pulling some of the information from the syllabus and placing it in a separate PDF on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Review the Course Preparation Checklist to link your syllabus in Canvas.

Syllabus Template

Please see this CSU-specific Syllabus Template for key categories, structural suggestions, and much of the CSU information you may wish to provide students in your syllabus.

Syllabus Resources and Policies

Please also consider posting these Syllabus Resources and Policies in Canvas. It includes many resources for students, on topics from mental health and wellness to food insecurity, as well as policies on religious observances, academic integrity, and more.