Course Syllabus & Required Text/s
This section includes information about the following topics:
- What Is A Course Syllabus
- Common Course Outline vs. Course Syllabus
- Creating Your Course Syllabus
- Required Text/s
- Academic Standards/ Academic Honesty
- Class Attendance
- Final Exams
What is a Course Syllabus
A Syllabus is a Contract
It allows you to spell out course expectations and assignments early in the semester. As a written document, a syllabus presents fewer ambiguities than a spoken presentation would (and you can refer students who missed early classes to the syllabus).
A Syllabus is a Central Reference for Students
Students like to refer to a central document containing detailed assignments, readings and schedules throughout a semester in order to keep themselves on track.
A Syllabus is an Effective Planning Document
A detailed syllabus stating course learner outcomes can help instructors better plan the most effective presentation of course content.
Common Course Outline vs. Course Syllabus
The Common Course Outline is the document approved by the College's Academic Affairs and Standards Council and includes the:
- course title
- course description
- total credits
- lecture/lab breakdown
- student learner outcomes
The common course outline is an official college document and cannot be changed by a faculty member without review by the Academic Affairs and Standards Council.
The Common Course Outline forms the basis for developing the Course Syllabus. Each faculty member prepares their own course syllabus to provide to the students. The syllabus should include the elements of the common course outline along with the standards for evaluation of student learning and any additional course information. The syllabus reflects the creative work of the faculty member and is considered to be the academic property of that faculty member.
The Syllabus and Common Course Outline Policy (Policy 3060) requires that students be given a copy of the course syllabus on the first day of class. This can be provided either as a paper copy or electronically. In addition to giving students a copy of the syllabus, faculty members are typically asked to provide an electronic copy of the syllabus to the Academic Dean where it will be maintained in a master file.
An electronic copy of all approved Common Course Outlines can be found in the Virtual Office. To access, login to the Employee Portal (look under the Common Course Outlines heading or go to http://www.northlandcollege.edu/VirtualOffice/scripts/courses/subj_nbr.pl).
Search for the appropriate course using the course prefix and number (i.e. BIOL1004)
Creating Your Course Syllabus
Adjunct faculty must prepare a syllabus that is consistent with the Common Course Outline for the course.
It is suggested that the syllabus include, at a minimum, the following information:
- Instructor's name, email address, office phone number, and office hours
- Course title, number, and section
- Course description and learner objectives from Common Course Outline.
- Time and place of class meetings
- Required and optional texts and/or software
- Special materials, if required
- The approaches or strategies to be used in the course (will the course be delivered via lecture, hands-on labs, outside lecturers, field trips, etc.)
- Summary of material covered and course objectives
- Course requirements, including specific assignments, due dates, etc. (Including a weekly calendar is helpful for most students)
- Type and frequency of tests
- Last day to withdraw (check college calendar to find date)
- Criteria to be used in grading
- Class attendance policy (if there is one)
- Inclusion of a statement related to Support Services such as: "If you have a physical, learning, or psychological disability, and you need accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible. You will need to register with, and provide documentation of your disability to the college's Learning Services Office."
The article Creating Stellar Syllabi includes more detailed information about how to create a great syllabus.
If the course you are teaching uses a textbook, it has most likely already been selected. (In certain cases, the Department Head, Division Chair or Academic Dean will consult with you about text selection.) You are expected to use this text as the primary content of the course, although you are free to add material from other texts and outside sources. Students are legitimately concerned if a text they have been required to purchase is not used on a regular basis. If you have not been provided an instructor's copy of the text, please check with the Dean/ Division Chair, Department Head for assistance in obtaining a copy as quickly as possible. You may also obtain a teacher's guide and other teaching support materials in this manner.
Academic Standards/ Academic Honesty
The Academic Dishonesty Policy (Policy 3072) describes academic dishonesty as
"…misconduct related to academic assignments or examinations, plagiarizing or other misconduct directly related to the academic learning experience."
Your course syllabus should refer to the policy on academic honesty and should be reviewed with students during the first meeting of the class. Providing students with examples of plagiarism and the penalties as applied to your course is helpful. For example: Does a student fail the course or only the assignment if an entire paper is plagiarized? Is there a difference between plagiarizing a 2-page paper and a 15-page paper when it comes to determining if a student passes or fails the course? What about inadvertent or minor cases of plagiarism?
All instances of academic dishonesty or plagiarism are to be reported to the campus Academic Dean.
Students are expected to attend class(es). You may determine your own attendance policy and how it will affect grades, but state it in your syllabus and communicate it at the first class meeting. Keep attendance records and if a student's attendance is poor, send an "Early Alert" form (form available from the Student Services Department) to alert the student and others to the problem even if you do not make attendance a factor in grading.
Whether or not to have a class attendance policy is up to the individual instructor but, if attendance has a bearing on the final grade, attendance should be regularly taken and the policy/ grading standard for attendance must be provided as part of the syllabus. A policy for make-up exams should also be announced at the beginning of the course (or ideally be included in the syllabus.)
Four days are set aside for final examinations at the end of fall and spring semester. While you are not required to give a final examination, consider using the final exam period that has been set aside for presentations, course evaluations, returning course papers/ projects/ etc, even if you are not giving a final. During finals week, the regular class times are not used. The final exam schedule is can be found on the Final Exam Schedule page. This schedule should be adhered to if at all possible.
Please Note: All one and two credit courses will have their final exams scheduled on the last regularly scheduled class meeting before finals week and do not meet during the four-day final exam week