Sample Learner Centered Course Syllabus

Sample Learner Centered Course Syllabus

This document is a sample of a course syllabus that has been developed for use here at Ferris State University.  It is only a model and you may feel free to alter it in ways that you deem appropriate. It contains all of the important elements that make up an effective syllabus. It is based on Judith Grunert’s book The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach.

 Notes for Syllabus Construction

  1. You are not at liberty to create a set of rules or “policies” or standards for your class that are significantly different from your department and/or college or University.
  2. The further you stray from the norm, the weaker your legal position. However, having no written rules or standards puts you in an even weaker position. The safest possible position, for any individual instructor, is to have a complete syllabus that is reflective of institutional policy.
  3. Departments, or Colleges within a University, can have rules, “policies” or standards that differ from institutional policies. In such cases, rigorous (and legally verified) rationale should exist, in writing and be well-promulgated, for the departure from institutional policies

Many faculty find it helpful to ask students for input to course policies like, attendance, late work, late for class, test dates, and project due dates. This learner-centered process allows students to gain some control over their learning and aids in the development of a sense of community (“it’s our class”) among the teacher and the students.

 

Sample Learner Centered Syllabus

Semester____________ and Year ______

Course Name______________________

Section Number____________

 

Table of Contents                                                                    2

A table of contents organizes your syllabus making it easy for students to find the areas they need to consult.

SAMPLE TABLE OF CONTENTS

NOTE Accurate numbering of the Table of Contents is very important to making this document as useful as possible. This sample does not take into account that many areas in this table of contents might be expanded by each instructor thus changing the numbering system significantly.

Course Purpose

Describe how the course fits into the students’ academic plan and the learning goals of the course. What skills and knowledge will students gain and why these skills and knowledge should be important to them. Other possibilities—why do people study this subject? How does this subject have application in the real world?

Course Overview

How will this course be taught? What kinds of teaching methods will be used? What kinds of assignments and learning activities will students engage in? Will students work collaboratively? Will big projects or portfolios be required? Will students be expected to work with others outside of class or attend activities outside of class?

 

Instructor Information

Instructor: Mr. /Mrs. /Ms/Dr. _______ Formal Title__________________

Please refer to me in class as Dr. Mr. Mrs. Professor_____________

Office Hours List all times available (consulting students about the best times for them to meet with you when setting office hours)

Day_______ Time_______

Day_______ Time_______

Day_______ Time_______

Day_______ Time_______

Phone: Home /Cell_____________ (Times not to call)

Phone Office ____________________

E-mail address_________________________________

 

Course Information

            Purpose of the Course and Course Overview                       

           Instructor Information                                                            

            Learning Outcomes                                                                    

            Learning Resources/Textbook/Technology Required        

            Meeting Times, Days and Place                                              

            Description of Instructional Methods                                                       

Course Policies

            Writing Requirements                                                            

            Attendance                                                                              

            Late for Class                                                                          

            Late Work                                                                               

            Make Up Work/Tests                                                            

            Extended Illness                                                                     

            Course Withdrawal                                                                 

            Safety Policies                                                                         

            Professional Behavior                                                            

            Academic Misconduct/Plagiarism                                        

 

Course Learning and Assessment Activities

            Course Assignments                                                               

            Homework                                                                               

            Projects                                                                                    

            Readings                                                                                   

            Group Work Outside of Class                                               

            Presentations                                                                          

            Case Studies                                                                            

            Discussions                                                                              

            Quizzes                                                                                     

            Tests                                                                                       

            Term Paper                                                                            

            Field Trips                                                                             

            Guest Speakers                                                                     

            Peer and Self Assessment                                                    

Assessment Activities

Tests,

Quizzes                                                                                   

Term papers 

Portfolios                                                                                

 Peer evaluation                                                                      

 Self evaluation                                                                        

 Other                                                                                        

Tests Descriptions                                                                  

Grading of Tests                                                                     

Course Grading

Assignment Grading                                                              

Use of Rubrics                                                                        

Course Grading System                                                         

Course Grading Scale                                                            

Incompletes                                                                           

Course Calendar

            August/September                                                               

            October/November/December                                          

 

Studying for this Course

            Daily Review                                                                          

            Study Groups                                                                                   

            Note taking                                                                             

           Concept Mapping                                                                  

            Tests Review Sessions                                                          

Instructors VITA

            Degrees                                                                                  

            Professional Experience                                                       

            Teaching Experiences                                                          

            Publications                                                                           

Syllabus Changes

Right to Change Syllabus                                                       

 

Expectations for Students

 Statement of Expectations                                                     

 

 

Learning Outcomes

These describe the major skills and knowledge that students will learn as a result of taking this course. A learning outcome has four parts:

Who                 Students

When               By the end of the semester

What               What they will have learned

How                 How will you have measured that they learned it

SAMPLE LEARNING OUTCOME

Students will by the end of the semester demonstrate through written papers and in-class presentations their ability to develop three separate textbook reading guides for use in one subject area they will be teaching.

The key to writing learning outcomes is to use language (verbs in particular) that is clear. At the end of this syllabus document is a list of verbs that can assist you in writing your outcomes.

 

At the end of this course:

Sample language

1. Students will be able to demonstrate on a test ………………………….

2. Students will be able to explain in writing the specific …………………

3. Students will be able to fully discuss the ………………………..

4. Students will be able to demonstrate through a presentation…………………………..

5. Students will be able to explain clearly in writing ……………….

6. Students will be able to give examples that demonstrate a full understanding of ………..

7. Students will demonstrate by a class presentation their ability to use …………….

8. Students will be able to explain clearly in writing………….

Additional outcomes that may be added

Given that teachers also teach behaviors like professional conduct and personal respect additional outcomes can be included to reflect these important learning activities

9. Students will demonstrate through their writing of course assignments an ability to write error free (or virtually error free) papers including proper grammar, spelling and organization of information.

10. Students will have demonstrated their ability to adhere to professional behavior standards by following the class policies set out in this syllabus

 Learning Resources

Required Textbook(s) _________________________________

Course Packets(s) _____________________________________

Technology Requirements______________________________

Additional Reading Materials___________________________

Supplies

Safety Equipment/Clothing

Course Meeting Times

Class will meet on ___________ from ____ to _____ in ____   ____

Lab will meet on ____________ from _____ to ______ in _____ ____

 

 

 

 

Description of Instructional Methods

Describe the instructional methods that will be most likely be used to teach the class) How much will be lecture? How much will be groups? Will students be expected to make presentations or teach each other? Will students work in teams or pairs? Will there be guest speakers? How much choice will students have in how they do their learning? How much will technology be part of the instruction?

  

Course Policies

Writing Requirements

Describe how written assignments will be graded FOR EXAMPLE; will there be a limit to the number of errors allowed before the paper is returned to be rewritten. Will a particular citation style be required? Will the papers need to be typed? Will the papers need to be submitted to Turnitin.com before being turned it to the instructor? Will papers be submitted electronically? Will students be required to do something with the feedback they get on their writing to demonstrate improvement on subsequent writings?

EXAMPLE

Any student that is found to have significant deficiencies in their writing will be required to use the services of the University Writing Center in an effort to improve such deficiencies to a satisfactory level. Assignments with more than 4 combined spelling or grammar errors will be returned to be rewritten.

Class Attendance Policy  

All 0-level and 100-level courses must have attendance policies.

 • It is strongly recommended that all other courses have attendance policies

Samples of attendance policies can be found at the end of this syllabus document.

A very learner centered way to develop an attendance policy is to discuss with students what they see as an effective policy and add it to the syllabus the first week of class.

 Late for Class Policy

The suggestion is to discuss this policy with students when developing it for the course.

 Late Assignments Policy

The suggestion is to discuss this policy with students when developing it for the course

Make up Work/Tests Policy

The suggestion is to discuss this policy with students when developing it for the course

Consider here developing a policy that tries to optimize students’ learning but also the meets the instructor’s need to have a reasonable and manageable flow of work.

Extended Illness Policy 

     The “I” should only be considered for extenuating circumstances that have led to a student missing a portion of the course. Extenuating circumstances are generally defined as those situations over which the student has little or no control — e.g. illness, birth, jury duty, death of parent, injury, or military service. Instructors may wish to require suitable documentation.

• Students must be making reasonable progress in their coursework as evidenced by completion of at least 75% of coursework at passing levels before assigning the “I”.

• Instructors will require students to sign an agreement stipulating assignments and deadlines that must be met in order to complete the course.

•   An “I” grade will automatically become an “F” prior to final exam week of the following semester (not counting summer) unless the faculty member files another grade or extends the incomplete grade.

 

   NOTE- The course attendance policy should be written to address extended illnesses that fall short of needing an “I” grade but cause the student to exceed the number of absences allowed for the course.

 

 

Course Withdrawal Policy

 

The University allows a student to withdraw from a course and receive a grade of “W” up until the ninth week of the semester.  List the withdrawal date here_______________________

 

Safety Policies

 

Include all appropriate safety information concerning the operation of the course. This needs to include safety equipment and /or apparel.

 Classroom Conduct and Professional Behavior

Outline any set of behaviors that are expected from students including, language usage, dress, food, drink, head gear, issues of respect etc.

Your syllabus may reference SUBPART 5-2 STUDENT COMMUNITY STANDARDS — GENERAL from the academic affairs website.

Academic Misconduct/Plagiarism

 Sec. 5-205. Student Misconduct.
The University may discipline a student for academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is any activity that tends to undermine the academic integrity of the institution.

Refer students to Section III: General University and Housing Policies Regarding Misconduct Academic Misconduct in the Ferris Student Handbook

Plagiarism
A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment.  A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

a) Quotes another person’s actual words, either oral or written;

b) Paraphrases another person’s words, either oral or written;

c) Uses another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; or

d) Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge.

 

Course Learning and Assessment Activities

Course Assignments

Describe briefly the kinds of learning activities students will be asked to engage in.

 

Homework

Projects

Readings

Group work outside of class

Presentations

Case Studies

Discussions

Field trips

Guest Speakers

Other

 

 

Assessment Activities

Describe the types of activities that will be used to assess students’ learning.

 

Tests— describe the type of tests used

Final Exam

Quizzes

Term papers

Portfolios

Peer evaluation

Self evaluation

Other

Tests Descriptions

Describe the types of testing that will be done—objective including multiple choice, matching, fill in the blanks, true-false or essay

Example

Essay Tests usually consisting of 4-5 essay questions will be given.  The tests will take place in a computer lab so students may write their answers using a word processor. For students who are uncomfortable with this method, traditional handwritten answers will be acceptable.

Grading of Tests

Describe how tests will be scored i.e. by the testing center, using a specific procedure for essay tests etc.

 

 

Course Grading

 

Assignment Grading

Describe how course assignments and day to day work will be evaluated. What kind of grading system will be used? EXAMPLE pass –fail , points, grades,  or + and –

 

Use of Rubrics

In general a rubric is a scoring guide used in subjective assessments. A rubric implies that a rule defining the criteria of an assessment system is followed in evaluation. A rubric can be an explicit description of performance characteristics corresponding to a point on a rating scale. A scoring rubric makes explicit expected qualities of performance on a rating scale or the definition of a single scoring point on a scale.

 

Course Grading System

Describe in detail how the final grade will be determined

EXAMPLE:

A point system to grade all work, tests and quizzes will be used. Homework assignments will generally be worth 10 or 20 points. Quizzes will be worth 20 points and tests will be worth 50 to 100 points. I expect there will be 475 points in the class. However, the final point total may vary slightly higher or lower. The breakdown will be as follows:

Homework Assignments =60pts.

Major Homework Assignments =100pts.

Quizzes =40pts.

Portfolio =25

2 Exams =100

Presentations =50-75

Final Exam= 100

Total 475-500

Course Grading Scale

Describe the range of points that will determine the final grade.

Sample

475-451 = A     450-442 = A-

441-427 = B+   426-413 = B

412-394 = B-   393-380 = C+

379-336 = C     335-356 = C-

355-332 = D    331 – 0 = F

 

Grade of Incomplete

Students must be making reasonable progress in their coursework as evidenced by completion of at least 75% of coursework at passing levels before assigning the “I”.

• Instructors will require students to sign an agreement stipulating assignments and deadlines that must be met in order to complete the course.

•   An “I” grade will automatically become an “F” prior to final exam week of the following semester (not counting summer) unless the faculty member files another grade or extends the incomplete grade.

Course Calendar

Describe by month and day major test dates, project due dates and other important happenings including any field trips, guest speakers, conferences, days class will not meet, major reading assignments etc.—

(This may take up two pages of the syllabus)

Studying for this Course

Suggestions about how students may want to approach studying the knowledge and skills taught in this course. Suggestions might include:

 

Using daily review

(Research shows this to be a powerful way to build long term memories for knowledge and skills)

Study Groups

If assigning out of class study groups this process should be described here including the purpose and value of such groups.

Note taking

If a particular note taking style (example the Cornell method) is being recommended it should be described here. An example of the method should be included at the end of the syllabus as an attachment.

Concept Mapping

If students are going to be asked to make concept maps as study aids, how to make a map and why they are being used should be explained in this section of the syllabus. A sample, with directions on how to make a map should be included in the attachments to this syllabus.

Test Review Sessions

If formal test review sessions outside of class time will be offered the time and day(s) should be identified in this section of the syllabus. Also if these sessions are required this should be identified in this section of the syllabus.

Instructors VITA

This is an optional addition to the syllabus. The purpose of including a VITA is to demonstrate professional readiness for teaching the knowledge and skills of the course. It reassures the students that they have a highly qualified professional, with significant experience teaching the course.

Syllabus Changes

Always include the following disclaimer. Teaching is not an exact science and changes may be need to best meet the learning needs of the class.

I reserve the right to make needed and appropriate adjustments in this syllabus.

 

 

 Expectations for Students

(Describe the expectations you have for the students including their professionalism, behavior, participation, attention, cooperation, working with others etc.

Sample from an Education Course

I expect you to actively engage in the learning process. It is my sincere hope, as you take this course, that if you are not already a teacher that you will choose to see yourself in the role of a teacher. This means seeing this course as helping you to prepare for one of the most important and difficult jobs in our society today. A mentality of trying to earn a grade, with the minimum effort necessary, will be a great disservice to you and the students that you will soon be teaching.

 

 

Sample Attendance Policies

 No Fault Attendance

 

Rationale

I understand that each student may upon occasion need to be away from class due to illness or other important matters. The following policy recognizes these life issues but at the same time reflects the real world need to be present in class in order to learn and share your learning with others in the class.

 

Attendance Policy—No Fault Policy

Each student will be allowed to miss up to four classes without penalty. These absences may be for any reason and do not require giving the professor an excuse.

 

A student who is absent a fifth time will be required to withdraw from the course if this absence occurs during the withdrawal period of the semester. If this absence occurs after the withdrawal period the student will receiving a failing (F) grade in the course.

 

The four absences a student may have represent nearly 10% of the course meeting days and far exceed any absence policy that would exist in business, industry or other professional areas.

 

Exceptions to the Attendance Policy

Verification of all exceptions is necessary.

 

  1. A University Sponsored event in which an excused absence from the   

     Vice President for Academic Affairs office is given.

  1. Death of a family member or close personal relation (friends, neighbors)
  2. Extended hospitalization
  3. Subpoenaed to testify in a court case or jury duty
  4. For commuter students dangerous weather conditions in which driving is considered by local authorities to be unsafe.

 

 

Sample Two

 

Attendance       Reward or Consequence

 

Rationale

Class attendance is an important and necessary part of the learning process of this course. To that end students that make the effort to attend will be rewarded and those that fail to attend regularly with be penalized.

 

Attendance Policy

A student having two or few absences will receive an additional 45 points added to their final grade. (One point per class meeting)

 

A student having 3 absences will receive no additional points

 

A student having 4 absences (and for each additional absences beyond four (4)) will lose 25 points from their final grade.

 

 

Sample Three

Daily Rewards

 

Rationale

Class attendance is highly valued in this course and will be graded using the scale below. These points will equal one test score. This attendance test score will be averaged with the other tests, quizzes, projects and homework in determining a final grade.

 

100%             =      100 points

1 absence      =      90 points

2 absences                =      80 points                    

3 absences                =      70 points

4 absences                =      60 points

5 absences                =      50 points

6 or more                   =      00 points

 

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Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this material. It is very useful for me. I’m designing a syllabus for the first time, and I want to use a learner centered approach. I was wondering if you have had success with negotiating attendance policies with the students in your classes?

  2. To tell the truth, again I stumbled upon one of the best type of material on the net. I I’ve truly just saved as a favorite this website and come back any time soon. I seemed to be energized and so inspired. It usually wonderful to stay an internet site . like this.


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