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Syllabus Development

An explicit and accessible syllabus serves as a central document and record of your course. Students rely on the syllabus as a guide throughout the course and as a type of contractual agreement established from the beginning of the term. Below are some questions (and answers) that can assist in the development of a syllabus reflective of Universal Design principles.

In what ways does a well-crafted syllabus assist student learning within your field of discipline?

How does a syllabus promote my teaching goals? A learner-centered syllabus will help students meet the course goals when it:

An Example:

What might this include for a science based syllabus? (We see this as a general example, which can be modified across disciplines to include the information important to your field.)

For example in a biology course, one of the overarching themes related to the wider discipline would be for students to learn how to use the scientific method. The syllabus serves as a foundation for explaining to students how they will learn to conduct observations and generate hypotheses that lead to testable questions, which then can act as the starting point for discussions about how to properly conduct scientific inquiries throughout the term.

The lab and reading activities developed during the term (in class and out of class) can relate back to the main themes of the discipline. This provides an avenue for students to constantly see the relationship of how your course fits into the wider context of the scientific community.

Design your syllabus: The organization of information and formatting are both important. The information should be designed so that each section is easily read, designated, and understood. Examples of Universal Design based syllabi and additional information about syllabus formation can be found at the Emory University website (this link will open in a new browser window). The TEP links below also highlight simple and meaningful ways that you can make your syllabus accessible to all students..

Guiding accessibility language to include in your syllabus: “The University of Oregon is working to create inclusive learning environments. Please notify me if aspects of the instruction or course design result in barriers to your participation. You are also encouraged to contact Disability Services in 164 Oregon Hall at 346-1155 or”

Selected Teaching Effectiveness Program Resources for Syllabus Development

(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)

Syllabus: offers a collection of links to excellent information about syllabus construction.

How do I build a "state of the art" syllabus?: provides different sections of a syllabus to be considered in creating a comprehensive course syllabus.