Syllabus as contract. The course syllabus can be viewed as your "contract" with the professor. It describes the professor's requirements and expectations and other pertinent information.
To avoid claims by students that you didn't cover precisely what you said you'd cover you may:
- label the syllabus topic listing as "tentative" -- you may end up having to skip some material or spend more time than you expected on other material; OR
- include a statement to the effect that every effort will be made to cover the material identified in the syllabus, but that occasional changes may be made for educational or scheduling reasons.
A syllabus is essential, and is required for (among other things) accreditation. If you are instructor of record you should:
- Communicate clearly the course requirements and your expectations and policies.
- Ask your Department Chair or mentoring faculty member for some good sample syllabi, which you may use as models.
Required syllabus statements. The Office of Academic Affairs at Appalachian State has mandated that all current syllabi reflect a set of policies and statements related to academic integrity, students with disabilities, absence from class, and student engagement. They can be found HERE.
Are class policies enforceable? See UNC Charlotte: Guidance on the Enforceability of Classroom Policies and Practices (PDF, 46 KB) for a discussion of governing principles.
Syllabus contents. A syllabus should contain or be accompanied by your written statement of policies for the class. Topics might include:
- Assignments and expectations (e.g., readings, class participation, papers, exams, due dates, etc.)
- Required syllabus statements.
- Grading and evaluation. What is the basis for grade? (How are the various components evaluated and weighted?)
- Attendance and other policies:
- Deductions from grade for missed or unprepared classes: How is the grade computed?
- Excused absences? On what grounds, and what proof is acceptable?
- Cell phones and other electronic devices: Will you allow them in class?
- Disruptive students/Comportment (see the discussion on handling disruptive students)
First day of class. Review syllabus in detail and urge students to raise questions