Dcal syllabus Template

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DCAL Syllabus Template: We hope that this template will give you some ideas and make developing a syllabus for your course a bit easier. Please modify it as needed to make your own personal syllabus!

Adapted from the Cornell University Center for Learning and Teaching Syllabus Template (http://www.clt.cornell.edu/campus/teach/faculty/TeachingMaterials.html) and the University of Minnesota Syllabus Tutorial (http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/syllabus/what.html).
Course Title and Number


Class location

Class Meeting time(s)
Instructor: Name

Office Location: Building and room number

Email: E-mail address

Office Phone: Office phone number

Office Hours: Scheduled or by appointment? Virtual Office Hours?

Consider including a note encouraging students to see you during your office hours.

X-hours: Will you use all of the x-hours, use them for review sessions, or use them occasionally when you need to be out of town?
Rationale or Course Description

Why does this course exist? How does it fit in with the rest of the field/area’s curriculum?
Course Goals

Thinking from the students’ point of view, what general goals is the course designed to achieve? How will it contribute to them professionally?
Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

List as specifically as possible the learning objectives or outcomes the course is intended to produce. It is helpful here to think about the kinds of evidence you will need to assess the students’ learning as your objectives should drive your assessment and grading schema. Kinds of evidence include what students say, do, think and/or feel. A well stated objective has two components: substance (content/subject matter like osmosis or absorption) and form: what action must the student perform with regards to the substance (compare and contrast, evaluate, analyze, apply, etc.).

In addition to listing any pre-requisite courses consider including a description of the key aspects from these courses that the students will need in this course.

Teaching Methods or Teaching Philosophy

Telling students what teaching methods you will use in class and the rationale behind them will help them set realistic expectations. Providing your rationale can decrease student resistance to new teaching methods and can increase their confidence in you as an instructor.

Example statements:

During a typical class period I will lecture for short segments (<15 minutes) with time for discussion, working problems, demonstrations, experiments, or computer projects in between. Rather than me working examples, I will generally ask you to work problems in class with guidance from me. This gives you an opportunity to try some problems (before I send you home with an assignment) and ask questions. I’m confident that by asking questions and working through problems during class time you will learn more than you would by simply passively listening to me lecture.

Vicki V. May, ENGS142: Intermediate Solid Mechanics, Dartmouth College
Our class sessions will be mostly workshop. That is, I won't lecture at you much, except where giving instructions or clarifying something to the group is required. That means that you should use my time to assist you individually or in your group. I am very active in moving around the class, reading over your shoulder, and answering questions. I teach this way because research shows that it's the best way to run a writing course. If lecturing worked better or if doing grammar drills worked better, that's what we'd do. But they don't. Workshops work.

Judy Fox, General College 1421-17: Writing Laboratory, University of Minnesota
I may call on you to offer your ideas on a topic. This not a sadistic act of hazing on my part. I like to hear from everyone. You should not regard it as a performance test. In my experience, student who do not volunteer their thoughts often have much to offer the class. I also have concluded that students often do not think they know the answer or have an opinion until they are called upon to give one, and then they surprise themselves. I also believe that I can only be an effective teacher if I know what you are thinking and where you are struggling with the material or argument. I welcome your thoughts regardless of whether they are the perfectly constructed answer to the questions because they help me to focus the class discussion in a way that will be most helpful to learning.

Sally J. Kenney, Public Affairs 5442, University of Minnesota
I strongly encourage you to ask questions in class. Framing questions is part of the learning process. The following indicates how I will answer questions. Some questions I will answer right away, because it is important to clear up a confusing point that is critical to our topic. Some questions are ones to which I will be unable to give a clear answer immediately without creating more confusion. I will think about those questions and answer in the next class. From year to year, thoughtful students come up with a wide range of questions which are beyond where we are in class. You are welcome to ask such questions, but I may the postpone the answer to later in the course or ask you to save the question for Quant II. This has nothing to do with your intelligence or ability to grasp concepts; rather, it has to do with the sequential nature of statistical learning.

Deborah Levison, PA 5021: Quantitative Methods in Public Affairs and Planning, Part I, University of Minnesota


Consider telling students what you expect them to do, both in class and outside of class. Although some expectations may seem self-evident, you are more likely to have students meet your expectations when you state them explicitly. Students have a better chance of being successful when they know precisely what you expect.

Instructors usually include their expectations regarding the following:

  • attendance

  • class workload

  • when students should complete the assigned readings

  • participation

  • conduct policies

  • using technology (such as email or the class Web site)

You can also address any of your "pet peeves" in this section, such as tardiness or eating during class. Some of these behaviors may be tolerated by some professors, but particularly annoying to others.

Consider discussing classroom expectations with the students during the first day of class and having the entire class come up with a set of classroom policies or expectations.

In addition to your expectations for the students consider including what they can expect from you.

Example statement:

You can expect me to:

  • Plan the course AND alter that plan as needed. I believe the best curriculum comes from the student. That means that we will take advantage of unforeseen events that capture our interest, and then juggle the class topics as necessary.

  • Give you feedback – both written and oral. I take the assignments in this class seriously, and have made giving feedback a top priority.

  • Bring my expertise into the classroom. This includes many years of formal study, professional experience and development, and stories from real life. I believe that we can learn through stories. (You, too, are encouraged to bring stories to class to stimulate discussion.)

  • Be patient when you are struggling with ideas. To me, the struggle reveals that learning is taking place.

  • Provide clarity when the struggle gets too strong.

  • Be open about options. I think it's great when students bring ideas of how to form a class session or perhaps request a topic.

  • Treat you, as adult learners, with the related style of respect.

Here is what I expect from you:

  • Participation in class, which includes both speaking up and listening.

  • Effort to make this class your own. In other words, what will you do to foster your learning?

  • Completion of assignments – including the reading.

  • College-level quality writing: legible and proofread. I will let you know if an assignment needs to be typed. If there are a significant number of errors or if it is difficult to read, the assignment will be returned to you prior to grading for changes. In most cases, your assignment will then be late and docked points.

  • Honesty. I will ask you many questions throughout the semester. "I don't know" and "I need to pass on that question" are acceptable answers.

  • Courage. Courage to challenge what you read or hear (even from me). Courage to talk with me if there are concerns – before they become burdensome.

Leanne Sponsel, ECE 3226, University of Minnesota

Text and Resources

The purpose of this section of your syllabus is to tell students what books and materials they will need to purchase for your class and where they can purchase these items. You may also wish to tell the students why these books/materials have been chosen and how you expect them to use them. Be clear about which books and/or materials are required and which are optional.

Will you post additional resources in Blackboard (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~blackboard) or put some books on reserve at the Library (http://library.dartmouth.edu/search/course_reserves.shtml)?

Because students are very concerned about how they will be graded, this section of the syllabus is often the first one they turn to. They will look for answers to such questions as "Can I succeed in this class?" "Can I get a good grade?" "Is the instructor fair?" "What does the instructor want from me?" This section reflects your beliefs about student assessment and about what is important in your field.

Grading is the most common area of student-instructor conflict. Many problems can be avoided by carefully detailing your grading procedures in your syllabus. This section of your syllabus should contain the following components:

  • Activities: a list of graded activities along with the weight of each activity

  • Computation: an explanation of how you will compute final grades

  • Evaluation Criteria: a description of the criteria you will use to evaluate student work

  • Policies: all grading-related polices, such as late work or incompletes

Encourage students to discuss their grading concerns early in the term.

Keep students informed about their grades throughout the quarter so they are not surprised when they receive their final grade (consider using the Gradebook in Blackboard to post grades).

Consider giving the students some different options with regard to grading such as dropping the lowest quiz grade or selecting a weighting strategy (e.g., one strategy gives more weight to exams or quizzes while another gives more weight to an oral presentation).

Number of Activities: In general, the greater the number of items used to determine grades, the more valid and reliable the grades will be. It is rarely justifiable to base students' grades solely on their performance on one or two items, such as exams. One or two graded items do not provide an adequate sampling of course content and objectives. An off-day could lower a student's grade considerably and be an inaccurate reflection of how much she or he has learned.

Types of Activities: Generally, the more variety in the types of activities used to determine grades, the more valid and reliable the grades will be. Different kinds of activities allow for differences among students and learning styles. For example, if you currently base a student's grade solely on exams and quizzes, consider including a written project or an oral report. A student with a good grasp of your subject may perform poorly on exams due to test anxiety but may create an excellent project.

However, including a variety of activities may not be appropriate to your course objectives. For example, in a composition class, it may be entirely appropriate for students to be graded solely on the quality of their written compositions.
Academic Honor

You may want to include a statement about Academic Honor at Dartmouth (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~reg/regulations/undergrad/acad-honor.html). Consider clarifying when it is acceptable for students to work together.

Example statement:

Students are encouraged to work together to do homework problems. What is important is a student's eventual understanding of homework problems, and not how that is achieved. The honor principle applies to homework in the following way. What a student turns in as a homework solution is to be his or her own understanding of how to do the problem. Students must state what sources they have consulted, with whom they have collaborated, and from whom they have received help. The solutions you submit must be written by you alone. Any copying (electronic or otherwise) of another person's solutions, in whole or in part, is a violation of the Honor Code.

If you have any questions as to whether some action would be acceptable under the Academic Honor Code, please speak to me.

Carl Pomerance, Math 105, Analytic Number Theory, Dartmouth College
Student Needs

Student Accessibility Services recommends that faculty at Dartmouth include the following statement on their syllabi:
Students with disabilities enrolled in this course and who may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see me before the end of the second week of the term. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Student Accessibility Services office may be consulted to discuss appropriate implementation of any accommodation requested.
Student Accessibility Services (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~accessibility/facstaff/)
Additional Support for your Learning

As appropriate, list additional services that the students in your course might wish to use to support their learning.
Academic Skills Center (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/)

The Academic Skills Center is open to the entire Dartmouth Community. Here are some common reasons why you might visit the ASC:

  • You're getting B's but you want to get A's

  • You don't feel comfortable talking in class

  • You're attending class regularly but you feel like you're missing important points

  • You feel like you're a slow reader

  • You're having trouble completing tests in the allotted time

  • You're spending hours studying for foreign language but still not “getting it”

  • You feel like you don't have enough time to get everything done

  • You're not sure how to take notes

  • You want to sign up for a tutor or study group

  • You're not sure if you should get tested for a learning disability

The Research Center for Writing, and Information Technology (RWiT) (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~rwit/)

The Student Center for Research, Writing, and Information Technology (RWiT) is a place where you can meet with an undergraduate tutor to discuss a paper, research project, or multi-media assignment. The RWit tutors are trained to help you at any phase of your process. Whether you are brainstorming or planning, drafting or structuring, tweaking or polishing, the RWiT tutors can provide feedback that will help you to create final products of which you can be proud.

Tentative Course Schedule: (May change to accommodate guest presenters & student needs)

Including a course calendar in your syllabus helps students balance their time so they can meet the demands of your course. Students benefit from as much advance notice as possible for assignments, tests, and the other requirements of your course. In addition, a complete calendar communicates that you have thoughtfully and carefully planned your course. Consider including your objectives in the calendar to ensure that objectives, activities, and assignments are aligned.



Topics or Activities

Learning Objectives Addressed

Assignments, Exams, or Readings

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