Components and Steps in Syllabus Design
Although courses may vary in length, subject matter, level, or approach, a systematic process, a syllabus is essential to plan and structure a course to achieve instructional goals effectively. Teachers will need to design, modify, revise or evaluate a syllabus or rethink and re-examine their syllabi throughout their career. Being a systematic process, syllabus design follows a set of steps and requirements, as outlined in the following paragraphs.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Soundous D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Before starting the syllabus design, teachers need to collect some information to help them in this process. This information includes:
- School's academic policy and procedures, curriculum goals and outcomes, and academic calendar. This information will help design a syllabus that matches the educational purposes and calendar of the institution.
- Target group. Here we need to consider students' backgrounds, levels, and capabilities.
- Available technologies, space, and context. This information is essential to design relevant and feasible learning activities.
Syllabus components and format may change from one institution to another. To produce a well-designed syllabus, the following components should be included:* Course description should serve as an introduction to the course, explain its relation to the discipline, and mention essential topics.* Basic information includes the course name, meeting time and place, instructor name, contact information, and office hours.
- Objectives and learning outcomes – this section describes the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes gained in the course. It outlines what students will be able to do by the end of the time.
- Course requirements – here, we list what students are required to have before starting the course, in terms of proficiency, capabilities -knowledge, and skills.
Course materials – this lists the course materials necessary to have, read or use either before or during the lessons.
Grading and assessment– description of assignments and their evaluation criteria and the grade scale.
- Academic integrity statement – this needs to match with the institution's general academic integrity statement. This policy is on attendance, absence, plagiarism, group work, and collaboration.
- Class timeline and calendar – this section is the lengthiest as it describes in detail what happens in each session. It is a reflection of how the course is organized. To produce this section, it is essential to have decent subject matter knowledge, good teaching skills, proper knowledge of students' level, and familiarity of the course position within the curriculum.
This section outlines for each session the date, topic, content, teaching methods, homework, readings, projects, assignments, assessments, and exams, used materials and technology, and any beneficial co-curricular activities.
After designing the syllabus, depending on the context and setting, it might be necessary to get the institution's approval, and hence some modifications might be required. Some schools require two versions of the syllabus: 1) a teacher's version, which a detailed version used by teachers and school academic team, and 2) a student's version, which is a simplified version that is distributed to students.
Syllabus design can be a continuous process. During the first weeks of teaching, it is essential to monitor the syllabus design's relevancy and effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary. Throughout the course, monitoring and feedback should be collected. At the end of the time, a comprehensive evaluation should be conducted to inform future improvements.
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The syllabus is a foundational document and a critical piece of communication between the teacher and the school administration and between the instructor and the students. It is essential and worth putting significant thoughts into when designing it.
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