|Rethinking the Rationale
Our research on syllabus design included both scholarly sources and practical guides/templates compiled by Teaching and Learning Centers of various higher education institutions. When making both theoretical-pedagogical and practical-technological decisions regarding the content and form of the syllabus, we had many opportunities to rethink the rationale for the inclusion of certain information and to revisit our assumptions and expectations about teaching and learning. Based on the consulted sources, the information to be included in the syllabus could be viewed as (1) essential or required and (2) recommended or additional. Although there was considerable overlap among sources regarding the essential information, there was a great deal of variation about the non-essential or recommended components. Evaluating and categorizing information according to importance had repercussions concerning the length of the syllabus, which remained a non-negligible aspect of my research and investigation.
All consulted sources agreed that including the following core information in the syllabus was essential: instructor information, contact information, course description, prerequisites, course goals and objectives, learning outcomes, course materials, course requirements, grading policies, participation and late work policies, academic dishonesty policy, disability services information, etc. I discovered that despite the length and thoroughness of my syllabi, there was important information missing from them. For example, I did not include a content map, methods of instruction, why a student should take a particular course, or how that course would fit in with the degree requirements. As for non-essential information, I was surprised to find in the syllabus guidelines that old quizzes, self-study tips, sample assignments and activities, and even handouts were recommended to be included among numerous other items (Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching; Pedagoggles).