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June 26, 2018 Tuesday 04:21:56 PM IST

Benefits of Learner Centered Syllabus

Teacher Insights

At its most basic level, the syllabus is used to communicate information about the course, the instructor, learning objectives, assignments, grading policies, due dates, the university’s academic integrity statement, and, in some cases, an increasingly long list of strongly worded admonitions on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in the college classroom.

A learner-centered syllabus can take many forms, but it often includes one or more of these features:

*A rationale for course objectives and assignments. A syllabus can be used to set the stage and the context for the course and where it sits within the discipline. The faculty should be encouraged to be intentional about what is and isn’t included in the course, and then share that with students. Why are these assignments a part of the course? Why are we studying this particular topic?

*Shared decision making. In some cases, a learner-centered syllabus means allowing students to have some say in course policies and procedures. Depending on the course and the students, allow some flexibility in decision making for assignment weights and options. While first-year students typically won’t have the maturity to make these types of decisions, juniors and seniors can often thrive when given some choice in how they will demonstrate their learning.


*Warnings of potential pitfalls. There are often certain components of a course that students find more difficult than others. Giving students a heads-up of what to look out for or behaviors that could impede success (e.g., “You really want to look out for X, and here’s a strategy so that it doesn’t happen.”) can go a long way. It sets the stage that the teacher really cares about them, not just what’s going to be covered and what’s expected of them, but that you’re in this together.

*An opportunity for students to set teacher expectations. On the first day of class, as the teacher goes over the syllabus and outlines her expectations for students, she should  ask what they expect of her. Let the students break into groups to discuss past learning experiences and offer up one or two policies that they think will help them learn.

*Recommendations for staying on track. Every syllabus includes a course calendar, but a learner-centered syllabus could also provide guidance on how to tackle specific projects—from how much time something will take to strategies for gathering the necessary resources. In addition, students might also need help in evaluating and monitoring their progress throughout the course.

(Indebted to various sources)



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