In this teaching reflection, the author discusses the benefits of incorporating learners’ input into classroom content design, starting with the syllabus, to invite a more democratic learning process. She suggests four guiding questions teachers can employ throughout their courses, working with learners to create a collaborative classroom culture and encouraging individual and group creativity, while connecting the course content and material to students’ multiple learning styles and everyday lives.
We describe how a syllabus can be used to set the stage for effective use of assessment-for-learning principles. Nearly all college instructors use a syllabus, but this document typically dwells on logistics and evaluation. Research has suggested that courses should go beyond evaluation to include aspects of assessment such as specific learning objectives, formative feedback to students, and adjustment of instructor practice on the basis of feedback from students. We believe that this refocusing should start on the first day of class within the syllabus.
The article, the first part of a two-part series, offers advice for college and university teachers on designing a course syllabus. Topics include the inclusion of promises to stimulate student curiosity as discussed in the book "What the Best College Teachers Do," by Ken Bain, the relation of course schedules to students, and the importance of transparency about teaching methodology.