Developing Syllabi

This page contains some ideas to keep in mind as you plan.

Sample Syllabus (.doc) This document gives samples of content one might include in a syllabus. Revised August 24, 2016. Feel free to adapt or use any parts.

  • Build class assignments and assessments around meaningful course objectives that you share with students on your syllabus – this helps them understand the connections between individual class activities, the broader goals of your class, and their own goals for their learning. Contact Laura Wenk in the Center for Teaching and Learning if you want assistance with this.
  • Convey your expectations clearly. Students need to know what is expected of them in order to receive an evaluation in a course, and you want to make sure that students who continue through the semester have actually produced work worthy of receiving an evaluation. Setting expectations at the start of the semester about attendance, work completion and the quality of work helps everyone.
  • Please consider the spacing of your assignments. Many courses have one large project at the end of the course. If a student faces this in all courses, the end of the semester is very difficult. You should think about what you want students to produce by the end of the course and consider ways to build to that project (perhaps using backwards design), develop the necessary skills and understandings, perhaps even produce pieces of the project as you go along. Try to leave time at the end of the semester for revision if there is a final paper or production.
  • Consider assigning web-based materials that are easily accessible for all students at the beginning of the semester to avoid having your schedule thrown off because students can’t complete assignments in the first couple of weeks due to lack of access to ordered items, especially if you’re not sure if your books will be available at the beginning of the term. It can be helpful to integrate web-based materials throughout the course since students will use them anyway (e.g. how does the issue as described in the reading differ from the description on Wikipedia? Having watched the film, how does the book differ in x or y?)
  • Clearly, you want to select what is best for your course, but please be mindful of cost when choosing books. If you choose, you can place an extra copy (or copies) on reserve at the library. You can also place readings, both primary and supplementary, on-line in Moodle. When you select electronic readings, choose readings that will be accessible by all students (you can check with Asha Kinney about this). If you start now to think about universal design, you will have less adjustment for yourself later. Just ask if you need help.
  • Book information and orders should be submitted directly to the Hampshire College Bookstore using the on-line form available at http://www.hampshire.edu/offices/17285.htm. Due to new federal regulations, all faculty must submit information about books required for courses— even if you are not ordering through the college bookstore. If you would like to speak to a bookstore representative, please call 413.559.6000.
  • Using Moodle can help you communicate with students, adjust assignments as a result of student learning and interest, and provide password-protected readings and videos to students at no cost. There are many tips posted at https://moodle.hampshire.edu/. To that end, check your course Moodle before orientation. Asha Kinney, our Assistant Director of IT for Technology, Teaching, and Learning will be present to follow up.
  • Pay attention to accessibility issues in all your course materials. Be in touch with Joel Dansky and Asha Kinney if you have students who need special accommodations for how material is presented.
  • Give early assignments as much as possible. Give a small assignment in the first week or two, so that students receive feedback early in the semester and you can begin a conversation with students about your expectations. The Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) also appreciates this measure because a missed assignment early on can be an indication of a need for intervention. This is especially important in the case of first-year students. If you are worried because a student has not come to class, do not hesitate to reach out to CASA with an email or phone call; or you can submit a mid-semester report electronically through the Hub (required for first year students, but helpful for any student).
  • Build a schedule that allows for revision whenever possible.
  • Build a schedule that will realistically allow you to provide consistent and meaningful feedback to your students in any course. Students need to know what they’re doing well and where they need to make improvements. As you plan your course schedule, consider building in opportunities for significant formative assessments— those that students can learn from along the way—as well as summative assessments that lead to final course evaluation. If at all possible, develop your schedule so that you will provide students with significant feedback prior to the mid-semester evaluation date and certainly before the deadline to withdraw with a “w.”
  • Remember to review the academic calendar as you’re planning your course schedule. You’ll find it at https://intranet.hampshire.edu/calendar/thyme/custom_hampshire/academic_calendar.php as well as in this packet. Review the policies about religious holidays and keep that information in mind as you plan.