The Writing Program offers the following set of resources to help you build your own syllabus, rather than a single syllabus template for each level. We have broken the syllabus down into three parts, so that it is clearer which parts of our syllabi are common to all courses in the Writing Program and which parts are specific to a given course or level. We have also tried to make it easier for you to revise a syllabus to shift from MWF to TR schedules. Since much of our boilerplate policy language has been revised over the past two years—with new language about grading, the Writing Center, pronouns, portfolios, and more—we encourage even long-time instructors to build their syllabus for this semester using the links below. In each linked document, highlighting marks places where you should customize language for your particular section, and unhighlighted text marks common language across sections. Please note that WR 111 and WR 112 syllabi have changed: these classes are now Pass/Fail courses.
Curriculum Coordinators will be available as of July 5 for individual consults (by email or Zoom) as you are working on your syllabi. Please reach out to them with questions. This year’s Curriculum Coordinators also prepared this helpful checklist, which you can use while reviewing your syllabus before submitting it.
Syllabus Part 1: Course-specific front matter (course description and learning outcomes)
Draft syllabi due 8/15/23
(new levels/topics only).
Final syllabi due 9/8/23
(all instructors, all levels).
Customize this first section of your syllabus for your own contact information and topic.
Syllabus Part 2: Common program-wide front matter (policies and resources for students)
All instructors should use this language for the middle section of their syllabi.
Syllabus Part 3: Weekly calendar (schedule of readings and assignments)
Construct the final section of your syllabus by combining the important semester dates (note holidays, substitute Monday schedules, drop deadlines, etc.) with our guides for suggested weekly progressions.
- Part 3A: Important Semester Dates
- Part 3B: Curricular arcs
Additional Resources for Syllabi Planning
General Syllabus FAQ
- This is a lot of information–do I have to include everything here on my syllabus?
- Yes, you do need to include everything here on your syllabus. However, you are welcome to be creative in how you present this information to students: you might use a “living syllabus” format and allow student annotations; you might break this information up into multiple pages/sections/handouts on Blackboard; you might create and post short videos introducing different key sections of information; and/or you might have students work in groups to present part of this material to others.
Syllabus Submission FAQ
- When should I specify the “Grading and Evaluation” policy and methods on my syllabus?
- Plan on specifying your individual grading and evaluation policies–complete with the details of your grading contract, if you use one–when you submit a draft version of your syllabus, so that Curriculum Coordinators may provide feedback on your grading schema. Note that the choice of grading approach is up to individual instructors, but if you use contract grading, we are asking you to use the new table we developed for this academic year (AY 23-24).
- What formats or platforms are acceptable for syllabus submissions?
- For draft syllabi, you may submit using any readable format, including a Google or other cloud-based document that you can share with Curriculum Coordinators. For final versions of syllabi, we require you to submit by attaching a static document, preferably a Word document or a .pdf. However, if you build your syllabus in Blackboard, Digication, or another platform, you may take screenshots of the relevant sections and submit those as the final version of your syllabus.
- Why does the Writing Program collect syllabi?
- The Writing Program requires final versions of syllabi to be submitted early in the semester in order to provide transparency about our curriculum. Directors and/or Curriculum Coordinators may review deposited syllabi to answer questions about pedagogical practices and class content. Syllabi will also be provided to students who are looking to use a WR course for transfer credit at another university.
Weekly Calendar and Curricular Arc FAQ
- How does Spring Break affect the weekly calendar/curricular arc?
- Our weekly calendar documents are written for a 15-week semester. During spring semesters, spring break occurs between weeks 7 and 8. Be sure to note the dates of spring break on your spring syllabi when adding the other important semester dates (including drop dates, etc.).
- How strictly should I interpret the weekly calendar?
- The weekly calendar documents are provided as a guide, offering a suggestion of how to think of the curricular arc for a particular course. Faculty are free to use their own judgment when slotting in due dates, etc.
- What are the Essential Lessons included on the syllabus, and how should I use them in my course?
- Between 2018 and 2020, the Writing Program sourced, developed, and revised a set of core lesson plans for each level in our course sequence, storing them on our Teaching Writing site. These “Essential Lessons” serve to reinforce the shared vocabulary of our program and function as a de facto handbook across our many and varied sections. Instructors are free to teach an Essential Lesson as-is, using the provided handouts and lesson sequences, or they may use other materials to meet the same learning outcomes for each lesson.
- Are student conferences built into the syllabus? How do I schedule these?
- Every WR course requires individual (or small-group) writing conferences between students and their instructor. We ask that faculty do not cancel classes in order to hold conferences. Typically faculty schedule conferences using an online scheduling tool.
- Should my syllabus make note of reading period and finals?
- No. Writing Program classes do not have finals, and no work should be due for a WR course after the final day of classes in a given semester. After the final class day of the semester, faculty are responsible for calculating and filing final grades within one week.