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1. How do I design a course and write a syllabus?

If you have been assigned to a teaching role where you are “instructor of record,” your charge carries with it a tremendous responsibility that must somehow fit into the litany of other responsibilities you have: your studies, research, home life, etc. This task may seem daunting, but careful and thoughtful course design will help you manage all these responsibilities effectively.

Goals, Objectives, and Assessment

Preparing a Syllabus or Course Outline



Goals, Objectives, and Assessment
Courses are usually described in student handbooks. In addition to department expectations for courses as part of a sequence and general notions of the scope of particular courses, these handbooks are resources for making content decisions. They also form the basis for developing course goals. Goals are essentially what students will be expected to be able to do after they have taken the course. These goals may be broken down into objectives, specific behaviors, and conditions under which they will be demonstrated. Assessment includes any and all methods for determining whether objectives have been met. (More specific information about assessment can be found in Question #7 below.) (Return to top)

Preparing a Syllabus or Course Outline
Think of the syllabus as a contract with the students. It is documentation and communication of your plans for the course. It makes explicit what is expected of students, what students need to know to plan their semesters, and grading procedures. A well-conceived, comprehensive syllabus minimizes confusion and misunderstandings throughout the semester. However, consistent enforcement of the rules and guidelines put forth in the syllabus is just as important its preparation.

Included in the evaluative element of syllabi is often some form of attendance policy or requirement. At the University at Albany, attendance policies are left to the discretion of the instructor. Questions about attendance policies are among the most frequently asked questions, from both students and TAs. Also, although it is not required by the university, it may be a good idea to include a statement reminding students that some things such as due dates and specific parts of the course may be subject to change as the semester progresses.

Note that many departments require instructors to have a syllabus on file with the department. Be sure to check with your department.

According to University at Albany policy, all courses must have syllabi readily available to students and must include certain information. The course syllabus may also include such additional information that the instructor deems appropriate or necessary.

In addition, University Senate legislation requires the following information to appear on syllabi for courses approved as General Education courses information: