What is </SYLLABUS>?

</SYLLABUS> is an interactive course syllabus built on a popular survey platform. The interactive syllabus is sent to students before the first day of class. The interactive syllabus takes students through all of the material on a traditional syllabus but also asks students questions about their goals, concerns, and questions about the class empowering professors to engage students from day one.

A Better Syllabus

</SYLLABUS> transform the syllabus into three things:

1) An interactive page that requires students to "understand and acknowledge [the] information" in the syllabus.
2) A way to gauge student attitudes about course policies.
3) A means to collect some information about why the students are in the course and information about them that may alter the way I teach the course.

Syllabus Re-Design

I adapted my traditional syllabus (a 14-page behemoth) into an online questionnaire built on qualtrics survey platform. I asked students to examine course content and acknowledge the information throughout. Now I should be clear, I have limited aspirations that the content presented in a paginated format requiring acknowledgment will do that much more to provoke student engagement because the core problem is the mass of required content on course syllabi. However, getting through the syllabus at the least takes more than a quick scan, printing it and dumping it in a folder, or worse never clicking the file to begin with. At left is a sample of what the redesign looks like. To supplement the design I used icons located at thenounproject. This gives the overall syllabus a sense of design without being too obtrusive.

Asking About Policy, Asking About the Person

One thing that this format does afford is the ability to ask students questions related to syllabus content. For example, in Gender Communication (and really all the classes I teach) I heavily value student participation. Yet, each semester there are students who do not participate (usually after receiving some negative feedback they admit to being introverted or struggling to talk in class). By making the syllabus both a policy delivery device and data collection mechanism I can ask students to express their attitudes about course policies and prob about the ways they learn and participate best.

I can ask questions that tell me about the kinds of people my students are and gain important information about students that they may want to share with me but not their classmates. This is especially important in Gender Communication where a student may have, for example, a preferred gender pronoun but may be uneasy about announcing that preference to a class on the first day.