A. "What Role Does Your Syllabus Play?" (post) outlines 6 roles a syllabus can play in a course.
- "The syllabus doesn’t have to be all of these things. It can serve few or many functions."
- "What role does this all-important teaching artifact play in your courses?"
- "[H]ere’s an attempt to broaden our thinking."
B. "Different Roles of a Syllabus"
1. "A map ... lay[ing] out the countryside of the course and its content"
- "A good syllabus tells students (those who pay attention) where they’ve been, where they are now, and where they’re headed."
2. An invitation ... to a learning event"
- "There will be great food and lots of it—that’s the course content—stimulating conversation, laughter, learning, and lots of preparing for professional life ahead."
- "Those invited should plan to stay for the whole event. No ducking out early."
3. A contract ... describ[ing] a relationship with obligations."
- "It spells out what students must do and not do, hopefully with more emphasis on the dos than the don’ts ... [and] includes at least a bit of the rationale behind what it obligates students to deliver."
- "Contracts specify what both parties in the relationship will provide. A good syllabus lays out what the teacher will and won’t do as well."
4. A puzzle, partly assembled guides that "students as they work to complete the puzzle."
- "Every course has lots pieces ... chunks, modules, and units ... readings ... assignments ... content, exams, and assignments ... rules, policies, and prohibitions."
- "Where do these pieces fit in the puzzle? Why are there so many?"
- "The syllabus empties the puzzle box, does the initial sorting to locate the edges, and starts putting some of the big pieces together."
5. A sneak peek ... introduc[ing] the course and the person teaching it."
- "What’s the course about? Does the content look interesting? Is it relevant now or only in the future?"
- "Does the teacher seem friendly and approachable? Does it sound like she wants to teach this course?"
- "What does he think about students? Does he trust them, like them, and want them to do well?"
- "Students read between the lines and form first impressions."
6. An owner’s manual ... shows how the course operates."
- "It ... makes clear that there are ways to run the course that will cause it to break down, sometimes beyond repair."
- "There’s a trouble-shooting guide that offers suggestions for what to do when the course isn’t running smoothly."
- "It will identify what may be causing the problem and how it might be fixed."
Weimaer, Maryellen. "What Role Should Your Syllabus Play?" The Teaching Professor 11 March 2019.