FuSE Blog Post: Session 6

Posted: 09 04, 2015

Future Science Educator Blog Post: Session 6

By Cathryn J. Kurkjian, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow & FuSE Member

Designing a syllabus can be tedious and challenging; that was made abundantly clear during session 6 of the TIBBS summer series. The syllabus that Jennifer Coble handed out was critically reviewed, eliciting positive, negative, and ambiguous feelings by those in attendance. And that really just proves one thing: an effective and successful syllabus is really hard to write! And so Jennifer Coble and the audience went page by page through the syllabus, defining the goals for a successful syllabus.

To state the obvious, a syllabus must introduce the instructor, outline the course (including exams and deadlines), define expectations and class policies, and state the goals (or expected outcome) of the course. Most importantly, this must be directly stated and to the point! Begin with the end in mind – By using a “backwards design” when developing a syllabus, you are able to (1) define the goal; (2) outline how achievements will be assessed; and (3) determine how to effectively instruct the students. Make sure that the overarching goals of the course are clearly outlined for the students to understand – what do you, the instructor, expect them to learn and how will it benefit them in the future? And honestly, if you want to set the course off on the right foot, it should be written in a tone that is authoritative but approachable. Everyone will face a challenge in a course and it is the responsibility of the instructor to lead students to success… Starting with the syllabus.


“Closing he Achievement Gap” by Kelly Hogan, UNC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvFst7cZ8SI

Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work? http://www.lifescied.org/content/13/3/453.full



Designing a Syllabus

Dr. Jennifer Coble, Lecturer, Department of Biology, UNC

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