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Creating a Syllabus

A syllabus can serve many functions for you and your students. It states your policies and shows how your course follows UT policies; it helps students find help–whether they need to contact you or find an academic resource center.  It sets up not only your objectives for this course but also describes the value that the course will have for students, and what and how the students will learn in the course (learning outcomes). "syllabus" spelled as a pile of breaks, with teacher in a construction hat

The syllabus can be interactive–it can link to supporting documents that describe assignments, and provide guidelines and advice for completing course work, accessing further information, and studying for tests.  In your program, your syllabus links to other courses’ syllabi to form a coherent program of study and enables you and your colleagues to assess the success of your students.

In the words of academic and author Ken Bain (What the Best College Teachers Do), create a promising syllabus. This syllabus contains elements that free students to learn through giving them control of their own learning.The syllabus “offers an explanation of the course’s promise to the students — what will they have gained, in terms of knowledge or skills, by the end of the semester? The focus moves away from what the teacher will cover to what the student will take away from the course.Then, “it describes the activities in which the students will engage in order to help them fulfill that promise: the readings, the class activities, the assignments.”
Finally, it “begins a conversation about how the teacher and the student would best come to understand the nature and progress of the student’s learning.”   The syllabus provides a rationale of the value of deep learning in the course and how a student can access this rich value.1

For information on best practices for syllabus design, see the following sites:

Return to: for UT templates.

1. James Lang, 2006, “The Promising Syllabus,” Chronicle of Higher Education.


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