Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning (CITL)
PURPOSE AND VALUE
A syllabus is an academic agreement that establishes the academic relationship between instructors and students in a course, used as the basis for communication and accountability. It communicates course expectations, organizes information, sets the tone for the learning environment, maps the path of student learning, and provides accountability. A carefully constructed syllabus helps clarify course goals and learning objectives, assessment and evaluation standards, grading policies, and expectations for student and faculty behavior.
The University of South Florida (USF) values clear and timely communication to students regarding course structure and expectations through the creation of a syllabus. USF has adopted a Policy requiring instructors to make syllabi available to students that contain specific information required for Student Success.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Criteria for Accreditation require that a syllabus be placed on file in the department for each course taught and that students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed. As such, syllabi should not be altered after the semester has begun to ensure fairness for the students and any changes necessary due to academic continuity should be submitted to department for accreditation purposes.
Every scheduled academic course, regardless of delivery method (e.g., on campus, online), must have a written syllabus distributed to students enrolled in the course. The syllabus must be posted electronically in Canvas, USF's learning management system, by seven days before the start of the course.
Every semester, each course taught must have a syllabus that is placed on file in the department offering the course. Only one syllabus is required for course offerings with multiple sections. Departments are responsible for maintaining these files.
Instructors should avoid making major changes to a syllabus once classes have begun, particularly changes affecting attendance standards, grading standards, or performance measures. However, since it is impossible to cover all contingencies in the planning stages of a course, students should be advised that instructors may need to make changes as the semester progresses. Any changes to a syllabus should be for compelling reasons and follow these guidelines:
- Fair and adequate notice is given to enrolled students either by email, in writing, or through the learning management system
- Modifications to the syllabus are not arbitrary or capricious.
- Students are not unfairly disadvantaged by mid-semester changes to grading standards, attendance standards, or performance measures. Efforts should be made to avoid penalizing students as a result of any necessary changes.
All syllabi at USF must include the following items, per System Policy 11-008:
- Course prefix and number, section number, and title
- Semester term and credit hours
- Class meeting days/times/location (if applicable)
- Instructor name, contact information, and office hours
- University course description (required to be verbatim from catalog)
- Course prerequisites
- Student learning outcomes
- Required texts and/or course materials
- Course requirements such as exams, assignments, and projected due dates, if any
- Final exam date and time (if applicable)
- Grading scale
- Grade categories and weights
- Course schedule
- General Education statement (undergraduate only; only required if a Gen Ed course)
- Global Citizen Project statement (undergraduate only; only required if a GCP course)
- Course-specific grading policies (e.g., late work, extra credit, etc.), if any
- Course-specific attendance and punctuality policies, if any
- Course-specific technology and media policies (e.g., recording class, expected email response time, etc.), if any
- A link to the USF Core Syllabus Policy Statements on the Provost’s Website which covers information about academic integrity, academic continuity, religious holidays, accessibility services, etc.
Per USF policy, faculty are required to post the syllabus to the "SYLLABUS" tool/button in the Canvas course, and that must be in place (and visible) seven days before the course begins that term. It must also remain in place in perpetuity.
DOWNLOAD A SYLLABUS TEMPLATE
In addition, you may wish to use the following syllabus template -- click here to download (.docx). Note: this is not a "required" template, but merely a suggestion and a format for those seeking an easy template. The required elements are highlighted in yellow within this document.
Please note that our syllabus template may not contain every field required for some specialized purposes, such as approval for General Education. Also, your department or College may have locally-mandated policies or statements as well. You may freely copy the boilerplate policies found within the template for your own syllabi.
- Sept 6, 2022
- Class Attendance: Added links to the Faculty Handbook (pgs39-41) and the Undergraduate Catalog to assist with developing course specific Attendance Policies and alignment with USF policies.
- Aug 12, 2022
- Updated health services contact information for all three campuses under Medical Excuses (Section XXII).
- Moved Health and Wellness to Section XXIV: Student Expectations.
- Aug. 8, 2022
- Added example statements for Medical Excuses and Health and Wellness under section XXII Grade Policies.
- Updated Core Syllabus policy hyperlink.
- July 8, 2022
- Added suggested course policy for Campus Free Expression based on guidance related to HB7. Additional guidance can be found here.
- Updated important dates to include Fall 2022 calendar.
- Dec. 9. 2021
- Increased accessibility of template by removing text boxes and several tables. Where possible, tables were reformatted using tab stops to aide screen reading software.
- Updated Important Dates to reflect Spring 2022 semester.
- Sept. 24, 2021
- Updated language for Online Exam Proctoring. Removed the line "The University library and other academic sites at the University offer secure private settings for recordings" as these spaces are currently unavailable.
- Aug 12, 2021
- Moved template information into deletable text box on first page.
- Renamed optional section XI. Academic Continuity
- Added optional section XXI. Student Recordings
- This information is part of the USF Core Syllabus Policy and specific language can be found on that page. As part of the Core Statements, it does not need to be specifically in your syllabus, but can be linked to as part of Section XX.
- Faculty Guidance regarding the policy can be found on here.
Be sure to review the current semester's Core Syllabus Policies, as they include current approved language and policy, including pandemic response, student recordings and more. These policies apply to all courses and do not necessarily need to be repeated in your individual syllabus. You must include reference to the policies in your syllabus, a suggested statement is below:
- USF Core Syllabus Policies:
USF has a set of central policies related to Covid-19, student recording class sessions, academic integrity and grievances, student accessibility services, academic disruption, religious observances, academic continuity, food insecurity, and sexual harassment that apply to all courses at USF. Be sure to review these online at: https://www.usf.edu/provost/faculty/core-syllabus-policy-statements.aspx
UPLOADING SYLLABUS TO CANVAS
Syllabi are required to be uploaded to Canvas at least 7 days before the start of the course. A guide to on editing the Syllabus section in Canvas and uploading files can be found here: https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-edit-the-Syllabus-in-a-course/ta-p/1178
Students who are unable to complete all requirements of the course for circumstances beyond their control may request to receive an "I" grade to allow for completion of the remaining coursework the next semester(s).
USF Undergraduate: https://catalog.usf.edu/content.php?catoid=16&navoid=2270#i-grade-policy
USF Graduate: https://catalog.usf.edu/content.php?catoid=15&navoid=2107#academic-standards-and-grades
USF Policy 10-005
All final examinations are to be scheduled in accordance with the University's final examination policy.
EARLY NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR OBSERVED RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
USF Policy 10-045
Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, at the beginning of the term.
GENDER-BASED CRIMES/SEXUAL MISCONDUCT/SEXUAL HARASSMENT (INCLUDING SEXUAL VIOLENCE)
USF Policy 0-004
USF has a commitment to the safety and well-being of our students. Please be aware that educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence that come to their attention. I am required to report such incidents in order for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity can investigate the incident or situation as a possible violation of the USF Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment Policy and provide assistance to the student making the disclosure. If you disclose in class or to me personally, I must report the disclosure and will assist you in accessing available resources.
The Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention, the Counseling Center and Student Health Services are confidential resources where you can talk about such situations and receive assistance without the incident being reported.
Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention:
- (813) 974-5757
- (813) 974-2831
Student Health Services
- (813) 974-2331
GENERAL ATTENDANCE POLICY
Students are expected to attend classes. Faculty must inform students of attendance requirements on syllabi. Instructors should accommodate excused absences by making arrangements with students ahead of time (when possible) or by providing a reasonable amount of time to make up missed work.
As you build your syllabus, consider mapping your course results onto the national career readiness standards (NACE), which provide a common language for discussing how your course addresses critical soft skills for the workplace, like critical thinking.
Here is an example from one Religion Studies syllabus:
In the interest of career readiness, I am supplying these connections between the course objectives and the seven competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as most desirable to potential employers. The numbers here correspond with the numbering in Course Objectives, and further information on these categories can be found in section XVI of this syllabus:
- By analyzing the nature of a field of study, students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. In this analysis, students are frequently asked to explain their conclusions verbally in class time which builds oral communication skills. The instructor will frequently challenge their interpretation, asking for clarification and presenting opposing sides of the argument. Overcoming this challenge will require leadership skills – by assessing and managing one's emotions under stressful circumstances – and further refinement of critical thinking and problem solving skills.
- The ready knowledge that students develop about different cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles and viewpoints through their study in this course further develops their teamwork and collaboration skills and will also aid in the empathic abilities required for leadership skills.
- While we will focus on comparing different religious traditions, the tools of comparison that we develop can be broadly applied to any comparative act. This more rigorous comparative ability is another development of a student's critical thinking and problem solving ability. In addition, the instructor will frequently ask students to furnish their own information for these comparisons, something which adds to information technology application.
- By becoming more aware of how religion affects their own thought, students develop a greater metacognitive ability, that is, the ability to think about thinking. This not only increases critical thinking again, but is also an important aspect of negotiating diversity in teamwork/collaborative activities, the interpersonal skills and emotion managing aspects that are part of leadership, and the ability to think ethically and contemplate one's own integrity which contributes to professionalism/work ethic.
Accommodated Quizzes, Tests and Exams
SAS administers more than 7,000 exams to the USF community each academic year. The student is responsible for scheduling accommodated tests and exams with SAS. Students must schedule with SAS at least one full week before the requested test date. Students who miss this deadline complete a Late Exam Request Form requiring an instructor signature. SAS schedules late exam requests as space allows and as close to the original test date as possible.
Due to the volume of tests and exams SAS manages, SAS cannot provide accommodated testing space for "pop" or unscheduled quizzes. Consult with SAS for information on accommodating unscheduled quizzes.
Students who are taking a make-up exam due to disability reasons (medical issues, scheduling conflicts with other courses and extended exam time, disability related appointments etc.) should be allowed to take a make-up exam within 10 business days of the student's return to classes. SAS schedules make-up exams as space allows.
Online Proctoring such as Honorlock
Consult with SAS prior to a student who utilizes accommodations using Honorlock. Some SAS students have atypical testing behaviors. Other SAS students utilize adaptive software that does not collaborate well with Proctorio software.
Laptop or Electronic Device Usage
If prohibiting laptop, phone or electronic device usage for non-academic purposes in class, keep in mind that some SAS students use such devices for note taking and recording. Still others have medical applications on cell phones that the student cannot turn off (blood sugar monitors, medication alerts etc.) Policies that indicate, "Only those with accommodations may use such devices" inadvertently draw attention to the student with the accommodation. SAS suggests using language that indicates, "Students using laptops, cell phones or other electronic devices for non-academic reasons during class time may be penalized . . . ."
Consult with SAS about alternatives to clicker points. Many SAS students have disabilities that affect the ability to answer clicker questions.
Attendance/Participation Accommodations Apply to all courses – Even on-line
If a student has attendance or participation accommodations, SAS provides an "Attendance/Participation Accommodation Form" as part of the student's accommodation letter. This form is tool intended to guide a conversation between a student and instructor about missed courses, missed deadlines and the procedures to follow when requesting extensions. The accommodation does not allow a student to miss an indefinite number of classes or deadlines. Instructors may always consult with SAS to determine what is reasonable.
USF policy requires that all course materials be accessible to students. Per the USF Caption and Media Access Policy, all media sources must be captioned prior to use. SAS encourages faculty to consider document accessibility. Use the "Style" functions in Microsoft Word and the OCR functions in Adobe to ensure that all course documents are accessible to those who utilize screen reading technology. See the SAS Accessibility Guide for more information: www.sas.usf.edu (under resources).