Learner-Centered Syllabus Checklist (web version)

Overall Syllabus

  • Use positive, welcoming, inviting and inclusive language in your syllabus. Examples: “Late work is eligible for 60% of the original points,” or “Attendance will benefit you in several ways,” or “You have what it takes to succeed in this course without engaging in academic misconduct. Do not jeopardize the hard work you’ve put into this course.”
  • Follow steps to an accessible document using resources on CELT’s Accessible Course Design webpage.

Course Information

  • Course Title, Course Abbreviation, and Number
  • Semester and Year (Start Date to End Date)
  • Number of Credit Hours
  • When and where the course will meet (campus learning space, online, etc.)

Instructor Information

  • If an instructor has a teaching assistant(s) or co-teacher(s) please include similar information.
  • Name
  • Office Address
  • Student Hours (Consider using “Student Hours” instead of “Office Hours” to promote that these times are set aside specifically for students in case they need help outside class). Provide student hours via multiple means of access (your office, phone, e-mail, virtually using webcasting software). Example: Student Hours – T & R 8:30-9:30 a.m. in my office or via Zoom. Individual assistance is always available by appointment. I look forward to seeing you during student hours.
  • Telephone number or the best way to communicate with you (e.g., use Inbox in Canvas) to record audio or video using the Rich Content Editor tool).
  • Email Address
  • Other Contact Information

Departmental Information

  • Name of Department and location of Departmental Office
  • Preferred Contact Information for the Department

Course Goals, Learning Outcomes, and Learning Objectives

  • To give a basic background and starting point for course design use CELT’s Basic Course Design page.
  • Share with students how the course fits into the overall curriculum and what they will leave the course being able to do. Answering the question, “Why is this course useful?” Also, orient students to the discipline if it’s an introductory course.
  • List 4-5 broad-based learning outcomes that reflect what the students will learn and the skills they will develop by successfully completing the course. Provide rationales for assignments, activities, methods, policies, and procedures tied to these learning outcomes.
  • Visit CELT’s Tips on Writing Course Goals/Learning Outcomes and Measurable Learning Objectives webpage as a resource for developing your course.

Describe Course Format

  • Specify textbooks and readings by author and editions. When possible, explain connections to the course goals and how the text and readings address them.
  • Explain expectations to have completed readings before class sessions and the degree of understanding that you expect (e.g., successfully complete pop quizzes, can discuss concepts, or apply reading information to problem-solving scenarios).
  • Describe other course components such as teaching approach, group assignments, individualized consultation, etc.
  • Share information from ISU’s Library Instructor webpage if readings are on course reserves.
  • Identify where students can obtain additional equipment, resources, or materials.

Assignments (Papers, quizzes, exams, projects, etc.)

  • Connect multiple means of assessment (exams, quizzes, exercises, projects, papers, etc.) directly to learning outcomes.
  • Consider using the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) framework by providing the following for each assignment:
    • Purpose: practice skills, expand content knowledge, and benefits for life-long learning.
    • Tasks: clarify steps on what to do and how to do it.
    • Criteria: how to be successful (e.g., checklist, rubric); as well as, examples and strategies for students to improve their work.

How will Students Be Evaluated?

  • Explain clearly how students will be evaluated, and grades assigned. Include components of final grade, weights assigned to each component, grading on a curve or scale, etc.
  • Use both summative and formative evaluations (e.g., oral presentations, group work, self-evaluation, peer evaluation).
  • Employ periodic feedback mechanisms to monitor learning (e.g., graded and non-graded quizzes, tests, lecture-response systems, tests, reflection papers).
  • Provide ways that students can easily calculate or find their grades at any point in the course.

Course Policies

  • State your policies clearly in the syllabus and discuss them throughout the semester regarding:
  • Expectations for attendance, assignments, late assignments, make-up options, extra credit, and examinations.
  • Steps to report illness via ISU’s Thielen Student Health Center’s Class Excuse webpage.
  • Cheating and plagiarism, learn more from ISU’s Office of Student Conduct’s webpage.
  • List grading policies regarding incomplete marks, visit the ISU Catalog website (https://catalog.iastate.edu/).
  • Make clear a student’s course obligations and your obligations to teaching the course.
  • Share expected classroom behaviors (examples available on the last page of this checklist).

Course Calendar

  • Use the Interfaith Calendar website when scheduling projects, presentations, and exams to consider any potential conflicts.
  • Provide a course calendar that outlines topics to be covered, reading requirements, assignment due dates, etc. If necessary, revise it and be sure students get an updated version.
  • List important dates (or include a link to the ISU Academic Calendar) such as last drop date, registration dates for the next semester, etc. Visit the ISU Academic Calendar website for detailed information.
  • Note dates and times of any exams scheduled outside of class time. If needed, visit ISU’s Online Testing Center website.
  • Include the date and time of the final exam. Locate the information on the Office of the Registrar’s webpage.

Additional Learner-Centered Information

  • Inform students about sensitive or potentially disturbing information or activities covered in the course.
  • Consider adding a link to the ISU’s Online Learner Support webpage in your Canvas course.
  • Estimate student workload. Give students a sense of how much preparation and work the course requires. But be realistic; they don’t believe either scare tactics or soft-pedaling. (Remember that yours isn’t the only class they’re taking.) One way to determine the workload is to use the Wake Forest Course Workload Estimator web tool 2.0.
  • Share expectations in your syllabus and discuss them throughout the semester. Include information on how to succeed:

Iowa State University Syllabus Statements from Faculty Senate

Required Statement

  • Free Expression: Iowa State University supports and upholds the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech and the principle of academic freedom in order to foster a learning environment where open inquiry and the vigorous debate of a diversity of ideas are encouraged. Students will not be penalized for the content or viewpoints of their speech as long as student expression in a class context is germane to the subject matter of the class and conveyed in an appropriate manner.

Recommended Statements

  • Statement on Academic Integrity: To promote integrity and deter dishonest academic work, it may be useful to consider including a statement of expectations and consequences related to academic misconduct in your course syllabus. For statement examples visit the Student Conduct’s Academic Misconduct webpage.
  • Accessibility Statement: Iowa State University is committed to assuring that all educational activities are free from discrimination and harassment based on disability status. Students requesting accommodations for a documented disability are required to work directly with staff in Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to establish eligibility and learn about related processes before accommodations will be identified. After eligibility is established, SAS staff will create and issue a Notification Letter for each course listing approved reasonable accommodations. This document will be made available to the student and instructor either electronically or in hard-copy every semester. Students and instructors are encouraged to review contents of the Notification Letters as early in the semester as possible to identify a specific, timely plan to deliver/receive the indicated accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are not retroactive in nature and are not intended to be an unfair advantage. Additional information or assistance is available online by contacting SAS staff by email at accessibility@iastate.edu, or by calling 515-294-7220. Student Accessibility Services is a unit in the Dean of Students Office located at 1076 Student Services Building.
  • Discrimination and Harassment: Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. Veteran. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies may be directed to Office of Equal Opportunity, 3410 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa 50011, Tel. 515-294-7612, Hotline 515-294-1222, email eooffice@iastate.edu
  • Religious Accommodations: Iowa State University welcomes diversity of religious beliefs and practices, recognizing the contributions differing experiences and viewpoints can bring to the community. There may be times when an academic requirement conflicts with religious observances and practices. If that happens, students may request reasonable accommodation for religious practices. In all cases, you must put your request in writing. The instructor will review the situation in an effort to provide a reasonable accommodation when possible to do so without fundamentally altering a course. For students, you should first discuss the conflict and your requested accommodation with your professor at the earliest possible time. You or your instructor may also seek assistance from the Dean of Students Office website or via phone 515-294-1020 or the Office of Equal Opportunity website  or via phone 515-294-7612.
  • Statement on Prep Week: This class follows the Iowa State University Prep Week policy as noted the ISU Policy Library; as well as section 10.6.4 of the Faculty Handbook. Visit the ISU Policy Library website for policy wording.

Consider Including these Examples of Inclusive, Professionalism and Mutual Respect Statements

  • Related to ISU’s Principles of Community, “Students are responsible for living the tenets established in ISU’s Principles of Community: Respect, Purpose, Cooperation, Richness of Diversity, Freedom from discrimination, and the Honest and respectful expression of ideas. Visit ISU’s Principles of Community webpage.
  • Regarding name, gender identity and/or gender expression, “Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of accordingly early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.”
  • Supporting student health and wellness:
    • Iowa State University is committed to proactively facilitating all students’ well-being. We welcome and encourage students to contact the following on-campus services for their physical, intellectual, occupational, spiritual, environmental, financial, social, and/or emotional needs:
    • Basic needs. To learn effectively, you must have basic security: a roof over your head along with a reliable place to sleep and enough food to eat see the Food Security at ISU Student Wellness page. If you’re having trouble with any of those things, please talk with me or the Dean of Students Office (email studentassistance@iastate.edu, phone 515-294-1020). Together we can work to meet those needs.
    • Responsible Employee: Iowa State University is committed to creating an educational, work, living, and campus environment that is free from all forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and unlawful discrimination and harassment on the basis of a protected class. As a responsible employee, I am responsible for reporting all incidents of prohibited sexual harassment, including sexual assault, stalking, and dating, and domestic violence, to the university’s Title IX coordinator. Students can choose to discuss their experiences confidentially with the following resources: ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) at 515-292-0500; ISU Student Counseling Services at 515-294-5056; and Thielen Student Health Center at 515-294-5801.
    • Title IX Reporting Responsibilities: Download and choose from the Equal Opportunity’s Sample Syllabi Language for Title IX Regarding Reporting Responsibilities (PDF).
    • Green Dot Project: A green dot is any choice, behavior, word, or attitude that promotes everyone’s safety and communicates utter intolerance for power-based personal violence in our Iowa State University community. A green dot is anything you do to make our community safer. What is your Green Dot? Visit the Green Dot – Student Wellness website.
  • About mutual respect and professionalism, “You are expected to treat your instructor and all other participants in the course with courtesy and respect. Your comments to others should be factual, constructive, and free from harassing statements. You are encouraged to disagree with other students, but such disagreements need to be based upon facts and documentation (rather than prejudices and personalities). It is the instructor’s goal to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect in the classroom. Please contact the instructor if you have suggestions for improving the classroom environment. It is preferable if students discuss issues directly with the instructor, however, students may also leave a note in the instructor’s mailbox.”
  • Relevant to the ISU Inclusive Language policy stating, “All university publications and communication, whether oral or written, shall use inclusive language and illustrations. Inclusive language refers to language that makes every attempt to include comprehensively all groups in the community. Whenever possible, selection of academic materials will also reflect efforts to uphold this university policy.” Visit the Policy Library’s Inclusive Language website.
  • Related to usability, disability and design, “I am committed to creating a course that is inclusive in its design. If you encounter barriers, please let me know immediately so that we can determine if there is a design adjustment that can be made or if an accommodation might be needed to overcome the limitations of the design. I am always happy to consider creative solutions as long as they do not compromise the intent of the assessment or learning activity. You are also welcome to contact the Student Accessibility Services via phone 515-294-7220 to begin this conversation or to establish accommodations for this or other courses. I welcome feedback that will assist me in improving the usability and experience for all students.”
  • Related to University policies, “Students in this course are responsible for being familiar with the University’s student rules and policies. Visit the ISU Policy Library website.”