(Closed) What gets you to read the syllabus?

posted 5 years ago in College
Post # 3
Member
4275 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

Most of my classes had a day to day schedule on their syllabus. It was the only reason I went to look at it, to see what we would be studying the next day so I can get a start on reading and to see what I might miss if I am sick.

We were told in the beginning about 3 absences, cheating and what not. If you don’t know those rules then you were either a) not paying attention or b) coming up with an excuse to not get dropped.

I don’t think you are doing anything wrong, you just might have a few slackers as students.

Post # 4
Member
9484 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2012

I’m with Cady.  I’m an odd bird though.  I always enjoyed reading the syllabus.

Post # 5
Member
12621 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I only look at the syllabus if it’s day by day.  I honestly don’t look back to things like food policies, etc.  I only look at attendance problems after I’ve missed a class, or when I’m about to miss one. 

Post # 6
Member
3476 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA

When I was in college I had a teacher who was in my major, so I took about 7 classes with him. He tested on the syllabus– about 2 weeks after the start of class, every semester he would do a pop quiz.  It wasn’t worth a lot of points– equal to about 1 homework assignment (or about 1-2% of your overall grade). On the first day he went over it, then told us to take it home and read it, and always ended his opener with announcing the test– more than 1/2 the class failed our first class together– but those of us who had him for multiple classes learned quickly and we all read it completely after that.  

Post # 7
Member
3176 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I don’t know if you can really make students read the syllabus. I think it probably has to do more with the individual student’s personality than with the way you’re presenting it to them. If I had an absense or two, I always double checked the syllabus to make sure I was still in the “safe zone” before missing another. If the individual assignment wasn’t specific, I looked at the syllabus to make sure I was following all “rules”. But that’s me and has nothing to do with whether or not the professor read the syllabus to us & referred to it daily, or just handed it over and never mentioned it again. 

Also, I seriously HATED when professors read the syllabus to us on the first day of class. It seemed so redundant and made me feel like the professor thought we were all idiots who couldn’t read. Pointing out highlights is one thing, but reading word for word from the syllabus was always obnoxious to me. Refer to my previous point about individual personalities- students who don’t care aren’t going to care whether you read it to them or just hand it over. Students who do care will use it when necessary.

Post # 8
Member
2725 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

@juliette.eliza:  that’s a good idea

I always read the syllabus. In my MSW cohort we had a FB group that annoyed me because weekly someone would say “how did I miss x assignment??!!” or “how do I format ___” Hmm I don’t know, maybe read the syllabus? To me, it’s about accountability. As an adult in college, you should be able to read the damn thing. 

Post # 9
Member
998 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

@ProfessorGirl:  SYLLABUS QUIZ.  I had a prof one time give a ten or twenty point syllabus quiz.  It is a surefire way to get them to actually read the darn thing, and plus…who couldn’t use an easy ten or twenty point quiz to help boost their grade!

Make it an online quiz so they can reference the syllabus instead of memorizing it.

Post # 10
Member
3357 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I guess I’m odd too. Every time I thought about skipping a class, I would dig out the syllabus for that class to check the attendance policy. I also definitely read the day to day ones.

Post # 11
Member
1766 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

I found that the syllabus was usually a clear instruction on how to get an A. I would read it very carefully in the beginning to familiarize myself with what was expected in class, then go back for assignments, papers, and exams. Worked like a charm.

I know it must be frustrating to deal with students that don’t read the syllabus carefully, but honestly, they are adults, somewhat intelligent, and should be capable of taking responsibility for their academic success. If they need someone to take them by the hand week by week, then maybe an academic environment is not for them. Easier said than done, I know…

Post # 12
Member
98 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Ooh, May 2012 graduate ready to complain about syllabi! Right here! Pick me!

So syllabi. Every professor uses their syllabus in a different way, and I don’t know your style, but here’s what I faced, and what I liked/didn’t like:

HATED: One of my professors last semester handed out a syllabus, never went over it, and never mentioned it again. Reading assignments were listed on the syllabus, but not with dates (it was like, “chapter one, chapter two, chapter three”… but didn’t say “chapter one, read by January 31,” or whatever). Other assignments (quizzes, homework, etc.) weren’t on the syllabus at all (so if you missed a class, you wouldn’t know there was homework). THAT WAS THE WORST. Doesn’t sound like you do that, though, so good on you!

LOVED: I had a professor several times (took 5 classes with him) who did a great job of making a comprehensive and sensible syllabus. He went over it in the first class and frequently mentioned “check your syllabus for next week’s assignment,” but didn’t necessarily tell us in every class “and read these pages for next class, and write a paragraph.” For bigger projects, he’d go over the assignment some in class a few weeks ahead, but have all the same information in either the syllabus or an additional handout. If we had questions, he’d point us to the syllabus/handout first, then answer any additional questions. This worked GREAT for me because I like having everything planned out (the syllabus had exact due dates for every assignment) and I could find stuff out on my own because the syllabus was actually useful.

Other stuff that might help you (but you might already know): Sometimes I’d get a syllabus that was in a weird order. I always found it easier if the need-to-know information is easily accessible, in the front or the back. For example, where the class is, what time it meets, and the attendance policy should be smack in front. The course calendar could come next or it could be at the back, to make it easy to flip right to. Then the other information (final grade breakdown percentages, specific requirements for assignments, etc.) can be kind of “buried” in the middle. You know where to look for it, it’s just not in the way of the other information.

I never did well when the professor INSISTED on us following the syllabus by ourselves, without any guidance. Just a simple “don’t forget to check the syllabus for the reading assignment” takes three seconds out of the end of class, and is easier than a ten-minute lecture on “you have to follow the syllabus or you’ll fail, you’re wasting your time and mine” at the beginning of the next class.

If something changes, update the syllabus (either hand out a new paper copy or post one on Moodle or Blackboard or whatever). Snow days, unexpected absences, spending more time on one chapter than another–something’s going to mess you up. Update the syllabus so everyone’s on the same page. Plus, if you hand out a new schedule or email a new syllabus out, it will remind the students that “oh hey, here’s something I should look at every now and then.”

 

This might all be stuff that you know/thought of, but hopefully it is a little helpful.

 

Post # 13
Member
3357 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@mholden:  GROSS! We hated Blackboard as an interface! LOL

Post # 14
Member
9918 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

@ProfessorGirl:  When I was in college, I read all my syllabi.  They ranged from two to six pages.  When I was in graduate school, I read all my syllabi.  They ranged from four to eight pages.  I am currently taking graduate classes online to obtain my special education certification.  The syllabi for these classes are forty-plus pages long.  I refuse to read them in their entirety.  It’s ridiculous to assume I have time to waste on such things.  The pages are filled with long-winded expectations and standards and other nonsense that have nothing to do with what I am required to do.  A syllabus should include required reading, general expectations, and general due dates.  

Post # 15
Member
9918 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

@strawbs:  Blackboard is the worst.  I’ve had to use it for two different graduate schools and it is just an awful interface. 

Post # 16
Member
3357 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@peachacid:  it was SO bad it was a GREAT excuse to not do homework because it went down so often 😛

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