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Friday, October 15, 2010

Why a Syllabus is Important!

Over and over, I hear Professors say they wish their students read the syllabus.  In fact, some Professors have resorted to having students sign a contract indicating they have read and understand the syllabus or  have students take a quiz on the syllabus content. Why do they have this wish?

The syllabus is designed to provide students relevant information about the course.  This information usually addresses frequently asked questions about the course.  Most syllabus will include:

  1. Contact information for the Professor -- name, office location, phone number, email, and office hours.
  2. Textbook information
  3. Course Description with course objectives
  4. Topic areas by week or day
  5. Assignments -- readings, homework, exams/quizzes, papers and so on.
  6. Classroom Policies -- late work, attendance, mobile phone use and so on.
As a student, you are responsible for reading and understanding the material in the syllabus.  If you do not understand something after reading the syllabus, then it is appropriate to ask the Professor.  The syllabus is seen by many Professors as a contract with you.  Therefore, if a Professor indicates in the syllabus that you need to contact him/her within 24 hours of missing an assignment, it is your responsiblity to know this and do so.  If you do not, than you must accept the consequences of your inaction.  So, before contacting your Professor about a question, first review the syllabus to see if it has already be answered in the syllabus!

If it is in the syllabus, it is important to your Professor!  Professors are most impressed by students who have read the syllabus and then ask clarifying questions. 

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