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Syllabus Preparation - Tips - FaCET

Syllabus Preparation

Tip Sheet 13

Barb Kacer, Teacher Education & Sam Evans, Assistant Dean, CEBS

April 11,1995

1. Even though faculty members are not lawyers, they must think in terms of legalities as they prepare syllabi.
2. A syllabus is a legal contract with the student that certain activities, a grading system, etc., will occur during the semester. Even oral representations are binding.
3. Syllabi should be written to cover the worst case situation; requirements can be relaxed but not made more restrictive. Let the students know the expectations that are required for the class on the first day.
4. If you make a change from the syllabus, even at student request, make it in writing and obtain signed consent of the students, especially if it is to the disadvantage of the student. You may want to use a secret ballot in deciding on a change.
5. A change that may at first seem in favor of students can later be viewed as against them. Obtain consent.
6. Include attendance policy, e.g., how do you handle students who leave class early.
7. Include a visual calendar of the assignments.
8. Keep documentation (e.g., a small notebook) of significant conferences with students and agreements reached with them. Have them sign it.
9. If your course involves field work include the following statement, "Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to designated or assigned site." Never transport a student in your vehicle nor ride with a student because insurance may not cover an accident.


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