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Your Course Syllabus is a Contract

Your Course Syllabus is a Contract

Author: UKy UndergraduateEd

Upon completion of this activity, you will be knowledgeable about the value of the college course syllabus as a contract,  and will be able to identify what your responsibilities are in order to successfully complete  a given course.  Additionally,  you will be asked to examine the demands of all your college courses, and be able to set priorities and manage your time effectively.

 As students transition into the college classroom, they often don’t understand their responsibilities as a student. Being able to identify their responsibilities-- knowing what’s expected of them-- can lead to success in the classroom. This activity helps students see the syllabus as a contract between the student and the instructor and helps them understand what their responsibilities are for the class. No preparation or prerequisite information is needed for students to complete this task.

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University of Kentucky College of Communication and InformationThis exercise was developed by Jenna Reno, Stephanie Quinlan and Sarah  Vos, graduate students and instructors in the Department of Communication, University of Kentucky's College of Communication and Information. It has been used as an opening exercise in CIS 110: Composition and Communication, a required course in the University's general education program, UK Core. Within this requirement, students are expected to demonstrate competent written, oral, and visual communication skills both as producers and consumers of information.

Introduction: What is a syllabus?

Source: University of Prince Edward Island

A Definition

Syllabus as ContractFrom the video above, you learned that the syllabus describes how the course is structured. Included in the syllabus is a list of topics, readings, assignments, due dates, and policies such as for attendance or class participation.

Remember too, as a sort of contract, the syllabus will indicate roles and responsibilities to guide you toward success in the course.




Activity: Examining a Syllabus

Download and review the sample syllabus . Dissect the different parts to find the role you and the instructor will play in that course. Download and use the chart  to take notes on what's missing from the syllabus?   What would you want to know about the course to improve the clarity and comprehensiveness of this course contract?

Download Sample Syllabus


Download Student vs Instructor Responisbilities Chart


Activity: Using a Syllabus to Help Manage Your Time

In college you want to stay organized, set priorities and mange your time wisely to improve your overall success as a college student. Now that you understand how a syllabus is designed, let's begin to organize the student's responsibilities as outlined in the sample syllabus.

Review the Time Plan form to indicate a typical week's activities in college. Look at how much time is spent in class, sleeping, eating and socializing. Visualizing how time is spent across a typical week can lead to setting and adjusting priorities, reallocating time, and developing action plans that work.


What Students say about the value of the syllabus

Activity: Self-Assess and Apply Your Knowledge

To get the big picture, examine deadlines and obligations across all your courses. Use this information to assist you in setting priorities.

Obtain a copy of  the syllabus  from each of your current courses and download the blank forms below:

(1) Using the Roles and Responsibilities form, indicate roles and responsibilities for each course.

(2) Choose the current week. Fill out the Time Plan form  with  all courses entries for quizzes\exams, papers\projects, assignments, out of class commitments. Add time spent  for studying, and other activities including work hours for a job or volunteer commitment.  Under socializing, remember to be realistic to include estimates of time for texting, Twitter, Facebook or other social media.

(3)  Now analyze  your  time commitments to identify where there may be time conflicts or over-commitments. Refer to Time Management Tips (see below).  Reflect on how can you organize your time and schedule.  Perhaps you can complete projects not yet due, cut back on time wasters, or study with a partner to help keep you on task.




Download the BLank Forms


Time Managment Tips


Additional Resources

Transition from high school to college  takes deliberate steps.  Success in college starts with an aware of the importance and  requirements  found in the course syllabus.  With the details  in  the syllabus, next  you need get organized set priorities to best manage your time and commit to success. Below are  additional resources to recognize the transition  from high school to college, time management tips and study strategies.