Creating a Learner-Centered Syllabus

Below you will find some helpful information and resources to use when creating your syllabus.

Procedure 1001 contains guidelines for communicating course information to students, including the list of required syllabus elements.

Learning-Centered Syllabus Faculty are encouraged to develop and utilize a learner-centered syllabus. Judith Grunert O’Brien, author of The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach, describes the learning-centered syllabus this way:

“A learning-centered syllabus includes more, rather than less, information. It provides students with the resources of a course manual, with each component crafted to promote their learning” (Grunert O’Brien, 2008, p. 22).

A learner-centered syllabus includes all of the information that a student needs in order to be successful in a particular course. Faculty should begin their syllabus creation by asking, “What would I need to know if this were my first college class?” The learner-centered syllabus is comprehensive in nature. It not only includes information about course policies and assignments, but also about resources that the student can use to be successful in college in general.

Below are a few links that provide additional information about developing course syllabi.

A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning

This article in Faculty Focus describes the purpose of a syllabus. Rather than being thought of as a contract, the syllabus can be thought of as a way to set the tone for learning.

Learning-Centered Syllabi Workshop

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Iowa.

This site provides information about the purposes and benefits of using a learning-centered syllabus. It also provides a comprehensive list of what faculty should consider including in their syllabus.

References Grunert O’Brien, J. (2008). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

First Day of Class

The first day of class is your chance to begin building a relationship with your students and set a positive tone for the semester ahead. Icebreaker activities are great to use during the first class meeting. They help students feel more comfortable and give them the opportunity to get to know one another. Below are some ideas for icebreaker activities as well as other resources to help you through the first day of class.

32 Icebreaker Activities

This collection of icebreaker activities was created by the Center for Teaching Excellence at Lansing Community College. You’ll find activities for individuals, pairs, and small groups.

First Day Strategies

This collection of first day activities was compiled by Polk State’s own faculty experts. For each activity you’ll find directions and any necessary handouts or materials.

First Day of Class Strategies Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

This page contains a variety of tips and strategies for making the best use of the first day of class and provides strategies for how to create an inviting classroom.

Make the Most of the First Day of Class Carnegie Mellon University

This short article outlines eight objectives for the first day of class and provides strategies for accomplishing them.