I believe a syllabus is a contract between a professor and her students. I tell my students each semester that their syllabus is equivalent to a professional contract they would sign in the workplace. They are expected to know when assignments are due and all directions and a grading rubric are posted at least two weeks in advance on Blackboard. I encourage my students to be active partners in their learning and if they work better with “mini-deadlines” I am always willing to help them outline a time table that will best accommodate their learning style. At the end of each syllabus, I leave space for the names, emails, and phone numbers of five classmates and I ask students to find five people in the class they can exchange contact information with in order to provide them with additional support when they need clarification or guidance on an assignment.

I challenge my students to apply the course material to “real life situations” through the use of application assignments. In quantitative courses, this includes laboratory assignments, which involve the collection and analysis of data. In theory classes, we use dramatic scripts as case studies and students relate the course material directly to the characters. New application assignments are constantly being created to meet the changing needs of the students and the goals of the course. For example, in Human Sexuality, I recently created a “Want Ad” to promote introspection about the attraction theories of familiarity, similarity and proximity. Students filled-in-the-blank in their Want Ad assignment and reflected about their personal preferences and expectations within a romantic relationship. Syllabi inform students what is expected of them, but also what dynamic and creative learning experiences they can expect throughout the semester.





©2010 Christina Scott, Whittier College