Sample Syllabus Statements

black on white hands in a circle
 
There are several ways to approach policy language. First, some information can be cut (if possible). According to psychologists Angela Becker and Sharon Calhoon, who surveyed 863 students on how they use syllabi, students ignore certain kinds of information. They “pay little attention to information they can find elsewhere (e.g., textbook information that is available at the bookstore and basic course information and withdrawal dates published in the schedule of classes)” (9–10). With student codes of conduct, too, the syllabus shouldn’t have to reiterate inappropriate behaviors…. Hyperlinks provide a happy medium in which the syllabus links but does not repeat information outside it. Finally, for the remaining necessary text, format it to be appealing, legible, and navigable.”
— Anne-Marie Womack, “Teaching is Accommodation” p. 503-504, citing Becker & Calhoon “What Introductory Psychology Students Attend to on a Syllabus

Finding balance between being thorough and being concise in our articulation of policies is essential.  And it is also useful to differentiate between institutional syllabus statements (such as Academic Integrity and Title IX Policies, and links to Support Resources on campus) and values-oriented statements–ones that underscore an instructor’s personal approach to learning, such as statements regarding inclusion and accessibility.  

In the interests of making these statements both useful and meaningful to students, here are a few examples & resources compiled by the Dean for Faculty Development:

  • Word Template with Sample Syllabus Statements in the Academic Affairs for Faculty Team (log in with your Wooster credentials), including statements on Academic Policies, Classroom Engagement & Atmosphere, the Academic Resource Center, Student’s Basic Needs, Language for Sensitive Course Content, etc.  Feel free to take what is useful and modify as you wish.  Faculty should make them available to students, either in the syllabus or a separate document (just be sure to let students know where to find them). 
  • Infographic of Course Policies — thank you, Shelley Judge in Earth Sciences, for a fun example that gets across similar information (with links to more)!

Additional resources may be found on the Accessible Syllabus website and The Hope Center: College, Community & Justice.

This website is maintained by the Dean for Faculty Development at the College of Wooster. Contact me if you have questions or suggestions. Dr. Christa Craven: ccraven@wooster.edu