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Making a Syllabus

Syllabi Sections to Prevent Negative Conflict

(Policies developed by Dr. Zach Schaefer)

1. Lecture Attendance
  • Due to the experiential format of this course, responsible attendance is expected of each student. While I do not have a formal attendance policy, I do take daily attendance as per university policy. I expect students to not only attend class regularly, but also to participate actively in class discussions and activities. 
2. Grade Disputes
  • It is not my policy to discuss grades on the day an assignment is returned. If you believe that you have been graded unfairly you are certainly welcome to discuss the matter with Dr. Schaefer no later than one week after you've received the grade. In fact, I encourage it! If you have a specific question or complaint regarding a particular item, please fill out the Grade Dispute Proposal found on Blackboard and bring that sheet to the meeting with Dr. Schaefer. The only exception to this policy is a miscalculated grade -- an arithmetic error. All other discussion of grades will transpire at least 24 hours after the return of an assignment. 
3. Classroom Civility
  • I expect that all students will act in a respectful way to each other, to guest speakers, and to any instructors.  Acting in a “respectful way” is rooted in treating others how you want to be treated.  In addition, while I allow the use of computers and mobile note taking devices in my class, as soon as it becomes a distraction to me or the learning environment (i.e., your peers have an issue with it), changes will occur. Don’t disrupt the “flow” of the class, and we won’t have any problems. 
4. Late Work
  • Any assignment will be dropped 10% of the total points available for that assignment for EACH CALENDAR DAY it is submitted late. Exceptions are noted in the discussion of excused absences. You turn in papers via email, and if you do not receive a confirmation email from me that means I did NOT receive your document. 
5. Note-taking, Reading, and Paper Writing
  • I expect you to take notes and ask questions about what you do not understand. It is to your benefit to take lots of notes and ask lots of questions. More important, if you do not keep up with your reading and note-taking, you will not do well in this course. I am a challenging grader when it comes to paper writing because that is where most students need the most improvement. I have specific guidelines and expectations that I go over during the first week and reiterate throughout the semester (as well as post on BlackBoard). It would be wise to follow this advice if you plan to do well on your papers. 
6. E-mail
  • The first step is admitting it: Yes, I am an email addict. I use email to provide information on upcoming assignments, study hints, and other information, so you should read your mail regularly (at least once per day) so you can keep up-to-date. You are responsible for ensuring that you have a working e-mail account that will allow you to receive messages from the instructor. You can expect my email response within 24 hours.  
7. Group Work Disagreement
  • This class entails group work, and group work often includes disagreement among the group members. If your group is having problems, the first thing I will ask you is, “Have you talked about the issues openly as a group?” If the answer is no, that will be your first step. If you are having issues with a single member, I will ask about the steps you have taken to rectify the issues. You need to address interpersonal communication problems that pop up in your group; that is part of working in a group setting! I can and will give you strategies, but in the end it is up to you to overcome any difficulties. Proper steps to deal with group conflict:
    • Have a group meeting at the beginning of the project that outlines expectations, deadlines, and roles of each member. 
    • Discuss the communication technologies you will use to keep track of the work and hold each other accountable (i.e., Google Docs; Wrike; Doodle)
    • Nominate someone to become the leader/delegator for the group. This needs to be a person who isn’t afraid to hold people accountable to what they said they’d do. 
    • When conflicts arise, talk them out and look for common ground. 
    • If all else fails, Dr. Z will act as a mediator between the disputants and will hold a formal mediation session in his office between all interested parties.

Additional Resources

SIUe Syllabus Template

Articles

Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education: UDL Syllabus

A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning by Mary Bart

Building a Visual Syllabus by Chris Clark

What Does your Syllabus Say About You and Your Course? by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Using the Syllabus to Create an Engaging Classroom Climate by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

The Syllabus: Indicator of Instructional Intentions by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Tonic for the Boring Syllabus by Ed Cunliff, PhD

Designing a Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach by Brigham Young University Center for Teaching and Learning

Videos

MidWeek Mentor - Is Your Syllabus Sending the Wrong Message?

Books

The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach by Judith G. O'Brien, Barbara J. Millis, and Margaret W. Cohen

Websites

Creating a Syllabus - Stanford Teaching Commons
Feel free to contact Lynn Bartels at (618) 650-2569 or lbartel@siue.edu.
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