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It's on the syllabus

January 23, 2018

Imagine this: It’s the first day of class, you walk in and take a seat in the front. You’ve come prepared, having read and printed all required texts and course materials.

You wait as students file in around you, and, finally, your professor appears.

That’s when the fun begins. Students begin to raise their hands.

“What book do we need for the class?”

“When is the first essay due?”

“How many days can we be late or miss class?”

The questions pile up one after the other, and you can see the irritation on the professor’s face.

After a few more she calmly walks up to the white board, grabs a marker and writes, “It’s on the syllabus.”

This scenario is not unusual, and chances are that if you’ve spent a semester in a college-level course, you have seen something similar.

The truth is, students don’t always read the syllabus.

Sometimes that’s okay; syllabi aren’t always the go-to guide, and students may have to ask questions to understand exactly what is expected of them. But what happens when the syllabi not only lack information about the course but about other resources that could be beneficial to students?

These resources include the Writing Center, sexual assault and harassment assistance information, the Counseling Center and other medical resources.

For upperclassmen, who have received a couple dozen syllabi in their time studying, this is old news. However, to underclassmen who have just started their college careers, this information is vital.

There is no university-wide policy listed on the Toledo website regulating what professors must put on the syllabi and what they must not. The university only requires following state regulations, which is checked by the department chairs and approved before being used in a course.

However, there are a list of suggestions for professors to put on the syllabus, including one from the recent Sexual Misconduct Assessment and Recommendations report.

One of the recommendations was that the university “provide an optional syllabus statement on how to identify and report sexual misconduct on campus to all faculty through the Provost’s Office and Director of Title IX and Compliance.”

The basis of this idea is to put the information where the students are going to see it. But the truth is, students still aren’t seeing it, and professors often do not even supply it.

What can be done?

It is our belief that the age of suggesting and hoping professors have certain, extremely important information on their syllabi is over.

It’s outdated, and the information still isn’t reaching the students. If the girl sitting next to you in math can’t tell you the name of the book you need for the course, she probably can’t tell you where the Counseling Center is.

To combat this, we say to go digital.

Instead of just doing printed syllabi, we think all professors should be required to upload theirs to Blackboard.

We also believe these important resources need to be pulled from the syllabi and displayed more prominently. This could include links through the MyUT home page, the Blackboard home page and on each individual class’ Blackboard page as well.

The more ways we put this important information out to students, in places where they will actually see it, the better off students will be.

Instead of hoping professors include important information that they are not required to have on their syllabi, we need to be sure this information is well-known and available to all students.

Syllabi are important to a student’s success in a class, and, when they are done well, provide students with everything they need to know about a course. The university needs to work together to provide better syllabi, which helps to create better-informed students.

 

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