Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reviewing and revising a syllabus

First, perform a close reading of your syllabus. Does the syllabus for the course you have selected to revise clearly outline the learning outcomes for the course? How and where? Is it clear how these outcomes will be measured? What learning outcomes and means of accessing those outcomes does the syllabus omit? Be specific.

The syllabus under revision contains clear learning outcomes for the course and the different activities that will take place during the course. As learning outcomes students will learn (1) how to formulate questions, (2) how to use different techniques of investigation, (3) how to use different quantitative and statistical analysis tools, (4) how to graphically display data, and (5) how to communicate their results in an oral and written manner. As requirements students will (1) review current literature, (2) present findings through class presentations, (3) present findings in a poster session and (4) write a short scientific paper. This information is not presented at the top of the syllabus but is buried after the calendar of activities.

The main problem with the learning outcomes and the activities that will measure them is that they are completely disconnected; not relationship exists between each individual learning outcomes and each one of the activities. Furthermore, there is no explanation as to how the activities will be measured. While many of the activities address numerous learning outcomes, the syllabus does not state how the activity measures each one of the outcomes that is supposed to be grading. For example, a short scientific paper will touch upon all the learning outcomes but the syllabus does not states how this paper will measure each individual outcome.

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