Interactive Syllabus

As I mentioned in an early SPARK, the first week of classes can be very monotonous and mechanical.  We give the students the syllabus, expect them to read it ( some are about 15+ pages long!) and sign it.  I suspect most students jump to the last page and answer a few questions about the syllabus/course and sign it.

I teach English Language Learner (ELL) courses.  These are non-tuition bearing courses, so without students having any “skin” in the game, tardiness and absenteeism were becoming an issue in my courses.

I decided during the first week of class, the students would have input into the attendance portion of the syllabus. I was nervous the first time I did this as I was unsure what they would create for their attendance policy.  However, I was pleasantly surprised how professional the students were and detailed in their policy.  Below is a “typical” attendance policy the students come up with for the class:

Attendance Policy- Students may be absent two times in a semester as long as it is an approved absence.  Approved absences are illness, child is ill, car accident, car problems, work, or a death in the family. Students must email the instructor if absent.

Tardiness Policy- Students are considered late if they are more than  10 minutes late to class.  Two tardies will equal one absence.

Since the students created the attendance/tardiness policy, I really do not have to enforce it as they hold each other accountable.

One thought on “Interactive Syllabus

  1. Students don’t like to read much, even 15 pages is a novel akin to Crime and Punishment; whenever a students submits an assignment, they are to attach the assignment to a cover page which includes three main policies in the syllabus, thus they are reminded each time they submit an assignment of: 1. the grading scale; 2. late submission – missed due date; and 3. being absent from class. Here is a sample of what they attach as a regular reminder throughout the course just in case they missed it initially:

    Cover Page: Name_______________________________ Due date _____________

    Name, day, and time of the course ________________________________

    Assignment title ____________________________ Late submission? See numbers 6 & 7

    Grading Scale: A=100% to 90; B=89 to 80; C=79 to 70; D=69 to 60; F=less than 59%; your submitted work is evaluated by the following criteria.

    1. Honors the due date – An assignment is to be submitted on the assigned due date. Late work will be accepted no more than one day after the due date with specific approval by the instructor. The late assignment can be e-mailed, placed under my office door (SC 317), placed in my mailbox (SC 314, number 52). The max points that can be earned are 50% or less. If you failed to submit your assignment by then, you will receive a zero for the assignment

    2. Use of proper grammar and spelling; avoids “things” and “stuff” and use more specific or appropriate words in place of “things” and “stuff.”

    3. Follows the full directions or instructions of the assignment/exercise;

    4. The assignment/exercise is substantive, developed, and comprehensive as opposed to being so sketchy and brief that it is evident it was completed in a hurry and/or it lacks depth and breadth; and it lacks examples which can support and validate your understanding of the assignment.

    5. Typed and double spaced and use of font 12 or 14 or the exercises are clearly labeled and the answers are neatly written on straight-edged, lined paper. Attach the assignment to this cover page.

    6. If you are absent on the day of class, you are responsible to complete and hand in the next class a double – spaced hard or written copy of the work that was completed in class –such as, a critical analysis summary of a DVD and/or chapter worksheet exercises that were discussed and completed in the groups along with the assignment for that class, if an assignment was due. Failure to submit these various activities (assignment, viewed DVD, and/or completed worksheet exercises) will result in a zero.

    A summary of the class activities is sent to you via the blackboard announcements after the class is completed for your review as to what you did miss and what exercises you need to complete and hand in from the group discussions. Your absence is excused (illness or death of a family member or?) if you contact me via e-mail before class.

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