Syllabus and Assignment Design 

The Faculty Development Center provides information on suggested syllabi elements and syllabus writing tips [PDF] .

Additionally, The  University Writing Center  provides suggested text to add to your syllabus  regarding resources they provide to students.

Writing Across the Curriculum

The Writing Across the Curriculum program at Eastern Michigan University strives to develop a cohesive writing experience for students throughout their academic experience at the university. The WAC program helps faculty use writing effectively in their classes, and it assists programs with integrating writing and taking a systematic approach to writing instruction throughout their curricula.

University Library - Textbook Alternatives

Many EMU students struggle to afford texts and may attempt courses without the text, risking lower grades or failure. Quality alternatives are increasingly available, including open access texts, library e-books, article links, or inexpensive books from scholarly & trade publishers. Search using the Textbook Alternatives Guide  or ask your Subject Librarian for help finding options.

University Library - Instructional Services

The Halle Library strives to develop users' skills in finding, evaluating and effectively using information through a variety of instructional services. In addition to the suite of services that they offer to students, librarians also offer opportunities for collaboration with faculty colleagues.

Syllabus Checklist

Originally developed and assembled by Debi Silverman, MS, RD, FADA
For further assistance, review, or consultation on syllabi, please contact Interim Director Peggy Liggit at
Updated: July, 2015

A downloadable, printer-friendly Syllabus Checklist Word Document is also available.

"Every instructor has a persona, and every syllabus has a persona." - Dr. J.S. Dunn, jr., Ph.D. EMU First-Year Writing Program Director

Your syllabus represents a significant point of interaction, often the first, between you and your students. When thoughtfully prepared, your syllabus will demonstrate the interplay of your understanding of students’ needs and interests, your beliefs and assumptions about the nature of learning and education, and your values and interests concerning course content and structure. When carefully designed, your syllabus will provide your students with essential information and resources that can help them become effective learners by actively shaping their own learning. It will minimize misunderstandings by providing you and your students with a common plan and set of references. - From Grunert O’Brien, J, Millis, B, and Cohen, M (2008). The Course Syllabus, 2nd edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rationale: Many people at EMU have been designing and using syllabi for years. This guide is not a policy manual and it is not intended to enforce a format or insist on certain content. Times change, however, as do styles of learning, preparation levels and expectations, not to mention media and tools. We offer this as an opportunity to think afresh about syllabus form and function.


Chapter 1 - Planning: course design first

This checklist is not intended to assist with course design, but because an effective syllabus depends on it, planning should start with thoughtful course design.


When doing program development and curriculum planning, make use of the resources offered by the Faculty Development Center, like selected readings and consultations for designing or re-thinking courses.
We find L. Dee Fink’s A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning (PDF document) particularly useful.
Also consider Wiggins and McTighe’s “Understanding by Design”, the ADDIE Model: Learning Theories and ADDIE Instructional Design Model.

In thinking about course design, consider the following queries (ideally before you begin writing the syllabus itself):
Flow and sequence of learning in a program:

  • What is the position of the course in programs of study (Gen Ed, Minors, Majors, etc.)?
  • Have you fully conceptualized how your course fits into a student’s educational path at EMU?
  • How does learning in this course develop from or augment learning in other courses?
  • If this course is a prerequisite, what outcomes are expected of students enrolling in those subsequent courses?

Starting Competencies

  • What specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, or abilities are prerequisites for this course (including learning technologies)?
  • How will you assess whether students signing up for your course have these starting competencies?
  • What will you do if a few or a significant number of students are lacking in one or more of the competencies they will need for your course?

Learning Outcomes

  • What will students know and as a result of having successfully completed this course?
  • What perspectives or ways of thinking will students be able to apply?
  • What learning skills and attitudes will the students develop?

Note about learning outcomes: Learning outcomes should consist of explicit statements about the ways in which students are expected to change as a result of your teaching and the course activities. Write learning outcomes using action verbs such as “synthesize,” “create,” “teach,” or “solve”. If you find yourself writing “to understand,” “to learn” or “to know” ask yourself, “how will I tell that they understand/learned/know?” and use the answer to that question as the outcome.

Instructional approaches

  • Starting from the learning outcomes, what instructional strategies (lectures, projects, reading, homework, etc.) are most appropriate to elicit them?
  • Given the level of learning fostered in this course, are the instructional interactions mainly teacher-student, or student-student?
  • Taking into consideration that students have varied preferences, skills sets, learning styles and levels of preparation, can you offer variety of ways to challenge and elicit student learning?
  • Have you taken principles of Universal Design into account?


  • Starting from the learning outcomes, what assignments, tests or other strategies are the most appropriate to assess them?
  • Do assignments, tests, and other strategies elicit the level of learning students are expected to master in this course?
  • How will the syllabus provide students with an understanding of this alignment between outcomes and grades?

Recommended Reading

Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Dee Fink offers a taxonomy of learning: foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimensions, caring, and learning how to learn. This taxonomy goes beyond Bloom’s familiar focus on content knowledge by including additional features that faculty identify when they envision students who have completed the course.

Anderson L.W., et al (eds). (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing – A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

The revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is still a backbone for describing a hierarchy of cognition related to formal learning.

Ohio State’s web page on Universal Design: For books on Universal Design, search the library catalog for “universal design” OR “inclusive education” AND higher education

More links for Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation

-End of chapter 1

Chapter 2 - What is a syllabus for?


Originally, a syllabus was just a list. The term was coined in the 1650s to describe a table of contents or index. "syllabus, n.". OED Online. September 2013. Oxford University Press.

In American academia, a syllabus was originally just a list of topics addressed in a course or exam. Since the advent of mass education, and particularly after the adoption of reproduction technology (mimeograph and photocopy), new elements were added. At first just the reading list and class schedule, and then everything from grading rubrics to elaborate behavior policies.

By the 1990s a new academic genre was born, laden with official policies and classroom rules that in some cases attempted to acculturate students to behavioral expectations right down to covering mouths when yawning (see: The Syllabus becomes a Repository of Legalese By Paula Wasley (PDF)

Syllabus as Prospectus

These days a syllabus is a key element in any college course. It often functions as a course roadmap so that students may make informed decisions when selecting one course over another and be forewarned about the project they will be undertaking. Such a syllabus usually includes a teaching philosophy, context of the course subject, key questions or problems addressed by the course, justification for the relevance of the course, list material readings, all assignments, and expected outcomes.

The prospectus syllabus is not just for students. It is also a record of the professor’s work, sometimes a basis for evaluation of a professor, and sometimes used to represent a course for program accreditation or for inclusion in programs such as General Education or Writing Across the Curriculum. In such cases, the teaching philosophy, outcomes and activities (readings, assignments, exams) are all necessary elements.

Syllabus Contract

As syllabi became essential elements of every course, they became a convenient vehicle to set out rules, expectations and consequences, including everything that students are thought to need to know about a course and all the behaviors that a professor would like students follow.

The syllabus as contract is convenient, because it is one place to document the ever-growing number of statements about everything from immigration law to weather policies that faculty are required to supply to students. As Paula Wasley put it in an oft-quoted essay, “With its ever-lengthening number of contingency clauses, disclaimers, and provisos, the college syllabus can bear as much resemblance to a prenuptial agreement as it does to an expression of intellectual enterprise.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education Section: The Faculty Volume 54, Issue 27, Page A1) In fact, syllabus texts are not legal contracts (some professors even add a syllabus statement noting “this syllabus is not a legal contract”, but they are still considered a reliable document to preclude many student complaints and arguments.

Like the software that requires an “I agree” click before downloading, the legalese is unlikely to be read let alone absorbed by students until the moment when they are already contesting something. Faculty sometimes complain that it’s redundant to print them, as they are almost always part of published policies such as the Student Conduct Code. The reason these university policies stubbornly survive and multiply, however, has little to do with whether they are read by students or desired by faculty and more to do with fears of litigation.

While the syllabus may not be a legal document, those who teach at EMU are required to follow other legal documents, primarily university policy ( and their labor contract, and these include statements that could relate to syllabi, such as Policy Chapter No. 6.2.1 “Attendance and Class Schedules” and many others.

Enculturation, contracting a relationship

Many faculty turn to the contract syllabus not only as a repository for statements of university policy, but as a place to document their own priorities and expectations both for student academic work and for acceptable behavior. There is a blurry line between “one-inch margins on all essays” and “please wear a shirt.” The practice of spelling out rules and expectations no doubt began as instructions for assignments and rules about grading, and became elaborated in an effort to forestall students taking shortcuts. Such policies about make-up work and class participation easily progress to injunctions against tardiness, perceived rudeness and everything else.

Chat on blogs and sites such as the Chronicle of Higher Education (,79017.0.html) and Inside Higher Ed ( reflects frustration and dismay over classroom behavior. As the gap between student preparation and faculty expectations grow, faculty find themselves increasingly challenged. The syllabus may seem like the only place that an educator can set the tone and lay out explanations of what is desired and why.

While the list of rules and behavior policies grow, however, it seems clear that some students, and particularly those students for whom the rules are meant, are not taking it seriously. This leads us to ask whether there might be too many rules and not enough communication and whether a syllabus can ever really be the solution to the problem of unprepared students or students with different expectations

Are we really litigants?

In a backlash against policy-laden syllabi and the antagonistic relationship that they anticipate, some educators are questioning the values and expectations such documents imply, not so much by their content as by their tone. The syllabus as contract implies that the professor fears or even expects that students will be short-cutters and game-players if not outright cheaters. Embedded in all the rules and consequences is the implication that the class is indeed a kind of game where students strive for points and the professor is not even a referee but a fellow contestant (albeit one who controls more of the game’s parameters) from whom the student must wrest the points. Easily lost in this struggle is the reason we all came to the classroom in the first place: intellectual engagement and learning.

Syllabus as learning tool

What would happen if we took a step back from the contract syllabus and re-thought the goals of this enterprise? It’s possible that better solutions might be found for the problems that a contract syllabus is intended to address.

Faculty sometimes complain that students are not socially prepared for college. Even if we avoid a debate about blame, class bias and the nature of high school education, and accept this complaint at face value, this still does not reduce the educator’s responsibility. If we posit that a lot of students are indeed unprepared socially for college, then what is the solution? A list of rules and explanations in a syllabus is one possible solution, but obviously one that does not work well. A curious educator would be likely to explore what it is that students are expecting from their college classes and to use that information as a basis for recognizing what is going to surprise or challenge them. In other words, If we start where the students are, we can better explain where we are taking them.

This approach echoes back to the prospectus model, but with one difference. While the old-fashioned prospectus assumed that students and educators shared culture and social expectations, a syllabus as learning tool offers a road map to the class that acknowledges the many different starting places of students these days, and (without pandering or condescension) communicates receptivity to their various experiences as legitimate starting places for learning.

Setting class ethos: this is not a game!

We would like to think that the goal of a class is indeed those outcomes that are dutifully listed, or perhaps more broadly the intellectual development of our students, or minimally the transmission of some facts or skills. But what does the syllabus tell most students? A typical contract syllabus tells students exactly the opposite: by foregrounding expectations and requirements, grades and deadlines, office hours, and rules and consequences, such a syllabus screams, “I am setting the rules here, and I am using the grade as the reward.” Thinking about people who find themselves in such a situation, some portion of them will react not with obedience but with strategy: “the rules that prof is putting in all caps don’t seem so important to me, but the reward is, so I’m going to figure out how I can most efficiently get that reward while ignoring the rules as much as I can, and in so doing I’ll know that I’m smarter and more efficient than my dutiful classmates.” Since the educator has already been framed as both the rule-setter and the rule-enforcer, any chance for dialogue is reduced to negotiation of the rules and outcomes.

If the class is not a game, then what is it? Scholars such as Ken Bain, Parker Palmer, L. Dee Fink and many others have explored methods to reset student expectations for hard, satisfying work and authentic learning. Approaches differ, but the key elements include: commitment to fostering learning rather than solely transmitting knowledge; a “willingness to take their students seriously and to let them assume control of their own education,” and a willingness “to let all policies and practices flow from central learning objectives and from a mutual respect and agreement between students and teachers.” (Bain 2004 p78-79 italics in original omitted).

There are many ways to reflect an expectation for authentic learning in a class other than in a syllabus, and it’s possible that the syllabus is not even needed in order to do so. For those who are interested, however, the syllabus as learning tool could include these elements:

  • In addition to the usual contact information, a brief statement of research interests to let students see how this class is part of a larger intellectual endeavor
  • Learning outcomes described as something offered to students, an invitation for them to commit to the outcomes rather than submit to them
  • Assignments presented as invitations or challenges, with explanation of how the assignments will lead students towards their goals
  • Assumptions about class ethos spelled out and the policies, timelines and rubrics presented in a tone of respect and trust. Some educators invite students to work together to set and agree on certain behavior policies and deadlines for their class. This ensures awareness of the rules and creates significant commitment to them.

 -End of Chapter 2

Chapter 3 - Checklist for syllabus content

Begin by checking with your Program, Department/School and College for any specific policies, statements, or formatting that must be incorporated into the syllabus. Various units on campus have specific required content, and some prefer a uniform style. Once the syllabus is completed, be sure to provide a copy to the Department Head before the beginning of the term.

There is no single model or template that would be appropriate for every program, class and professor. Syllabi reflect the professor’s teaching philosophy and intellectual approach to a subject, and as such they are an intellectual product that cannot be forced into a generic mold. This checklist recommends the basic content that students expect, and offers some suggestions to enhance learning. Links to samples and templates are available in the next section.

Outline or Table of Contents

Even if it is only a three lines, this alerts students to the organization of the syllabus. For an online course the elements listed in the table of contents may be links to various tabs or other content in the course shell. Even a Word document that is sent by email or posted in electronic course reserves can have links to resources.

General Course Information

  • Course number, title, section (CRN), semester, year, credit hours, pre- and/or co-requisite requirements, and any required permissions
  • Classroom / laboratory location and meeting times and days
  • Format of the course (use approved University Web-Based Instruction Classification: fully online, hybrid/blended, or web-enhanced)
  • Location of school or department office, web-page, and office phone number
  • Course description as stated in current issue of the University Catalog
  • Course objectives, such as providing an overview of the field, introducing a theoretical position, developing student awareness (not learning outcomes)
  • Expanded course description
    • Problem, question or idea the course addresses
    • How this course may fit within an established Program/Major/Minor or classification within General Education Program
    • Overview of sequence or structure of course, questions or topics addressed, projects engaged

Instructor Information

  • Full name and title, office location, emich email address, office hours, web page (if available), how to contact (preferred method(s)/times).
    • The official email address for communications between students, faculty, and staff at EMU is Some instructors choose to include an alternate email address as backup.
  • Graduate Assistant(s) name(s) but usually not contact information unless necessary
  • Short introduction to your teaching philosophy, disciplinary or research interests, or publications.
  • Optional - Message to the student. this element is recommended by Grunert and other experts to evoke a personal commitment to learning in students. It can incorporate other elements such as teaching philosophy or learning outcomes. This element is highly effective in online courses and generally a good way to set the desired tone in any course. Even a short welcome message with a sign-off signals students how they are to address you (“cheers! –Chris” versus “Sincerely, Professor Smith”).

Sample Message to the student: Welcome to FACD 101 As your professor, I’d like to welcome you to this class, which has been designed to introduce you to… and develop your skills in…..(purpose and outcomes). I myself do research in the area of Grumples and have a personal interest in strangs as well. In this class you’ll face some significant challenges, and it is my hope that you will meet them eagerly, applying the necessary attention and time not only to learn information but to develop and practice skills and to expand your perspective on our topic. (prompting appropriate expectations for learning). Because we only meet once a week and outdoors at that, not to mention that some of us are meeting over skype, you will need to pay special attention to this syllabus, your email, and the online course shell. You can best study or prepare for assignments/exams by …. (prompt for appropriate study skills) …In this class you will meet people from a variety of backgrounds, which sometimes can result in new relationships but also sometimes clashing expectations. I will do my best to make my expectations clear, starting from a basis of mutual respect, and I hope you will do the same…(setting the classroom tone). See you in class! –Professor Green.

  • Optional - Teaching ethics statement. Such a statement demonstrates to students your commitment to ethical teaching practices, but is less personal.

Sample teaching ethics statement: I affirm to my students that: I will give students impartial and dignified treatment; There will be reasonable opportunities to ask questions and to express ideas; I will respect students’ rights of privacy; I will provide a clear statement of standards for work in advance of grading and other assignments; Students will have a knowledge of the grading system and are assured of the absence of unfair, capricious, or discriminatory grading; There will be timely return of examinations and other assignments with verbal and / or written explanations of deficiencies; There will be an explicit description of the policy for penalties regarding failure to participate in class; I will be provide, when possible, advanced knowledge of cancellation of class or office hours; Anonymity will be maintained during course evaluation sessions.

Learning Outcomes - course and assignments

Include the specific learning outcomes that students are expected to take away from the course, such as distinguishing among kinds of things, applying a theory to a problem, correctly and consistently using discipline-based terminology in written work, etc.

  • Optional - invite students to “vote” for outcomes that they will claim as their own for the term, or invite students to write and add one outcome of their own. This encourages students to treat learning outcomes seriously and to commit themselves to learning
  • Optional – “Student’s Responsibilities in Learning” statement. This statement might include a description of skills or knowledge that you expect students to bring to the course (including computer skills, math or writing skills, note-taking, library familiarity, etc.), the specific kinds of learning expected to take place during the course (mastery of concepts, collaboration skills, writing skills, number of hours/week to commit etc.), and a reminder that their progress will depend on their commitment to such actions as clarifying their own learning goals, taking notes, planning ahead, asking questions, collaborating, reflecting and assessing their own progress, seeking help or guidance, etc.
  • Major assignments with due dates and description of how they align with learning outcomes

Course logistical requirements

  • Detailed instructions for access to the online components and phone numbers for help with technical problems
  • Books and materials to be purchased, with comment whether older editions are acceptable, and whether using library copies or sharing with a classmate is appropriate
  • Participation in asynchronous or “real time” online chats or other activities or other “out of seat” time required for the course
  • List of recommended sources of help. Students should be encouraged to think that seeking help is an expected activity in the course. Listing resources with the requirements sends the message that this is a valuable option to be taken up by successful students. Resource statements could include: the Academic Projects Center, the University Writing Center, the University Library, Holman Learning Center, the Math Lab and International Student Resource Center. 
  • Any other activities that might require planning ahead or have an additional cost

Course schedule/calendar

  • Critical dates for enrollment and payment: (drop/add period, withdrawal deadlines, found here
  • Weather/emergency/schedule change contingencies, with link to EMU weather policy
  • Sequence in which topics or problems will be addressed, with dates if appropriate
  • Dates for outside speakers, field trips, labs or other variations from the routine clearly noted
  • All due dates and milestone dates marked, exams, quizzes, dates when particular items will be handed out, review sessions, etc.
  • Optional – in courses with an online component, the syllabus may contain the bare minimum schedule and direct students to the online calendar for details. Similarly, some kinds of assignment details (specific instructions) may be left out of the syllabus and provided on separate documents.

Standards and procedures for evaluation

Students who are unhealthily focused on grades will jump to this section first, so it is important to be explicit in the link between assessment and learning.

  • Expected student activities or assignments tied to learning outcomes
  • Dates when any study guides or study sessions will be offered
  • Attendance and participation note: University policies prohibit the use of attendance as the sole criterion for evaluation of student participation/performance. An effective policy on attendance or participation should focus on the experiences in the class sessions that are necessary to support the learning experience. Teaching and grading strategies at the participation level should promote the use or application of content, not simply being there.
  • Explanation or rubric for the evaluation process and a scale for the grades.
  • Number and type of exams, whether in-class, take-home, online. Point value of each exam and proportion of each exam reflected in the final grade. Content of the course be covered on each exam. Will there be a comprehensive final exam? Will there be unannounced quizzes?
  • Overall course grading scale. Any conditions that will be applied, e.g., dropping the lowest quiz grade
  • Policies for make-up and extra-credit assignments; all policies for late or missed work and extra credit should be considered carefully so they do not advantage one student over another
  • Group work – explain how group work produces the learning outcomes you are working towards. Describe how group work (in class, out of class, or online) will be managed and assessed
  • Refer students to the office of Records and Registration ( for information on grading procedures, withdrawal and exam schedules
  • Provide students with options or steps if they are unhappy with their grade. For example, suggest that their first step must be to talk with you in office hours (or send email, if that is preferred), and only then if they are still not satisfied could they talk to the Department Head or the Ombudsman (provide contact information:

Standards for behavior

The tone of this section will depend on whether the syllabus is following a contract model or more of a learning tool. Keep in mind that the tone of this section will color your relationships with students. It is best to avoid implying that you expect bad behavior and to avoid scolding or sarcasm.

  • Refer students to the Student Conduct office and Ombudsman for University-wide policies on behavior
  • Optional – message to students about what is expected (emphasize what they should be doing, not so much what you don’t want)
  • Any specific rules about classroom behavior (phones/ipads, open laptops, side conversations, eating/drinking, tardiness, foul language, etc.), spelled out with possible consequences
  • Academic standards about responsibility for doing individual work may be explained here. It is important to distinguish rules about cheating and copying (which students know) from academic standards in writing that you are teaching (failure in the latter context is like the wrong answer on an exam, but is not an ethical lapse). This is a topic that is best discussed in class or addressed with an assignment. See

Policy statements

As much as possible embed your policy statements into the appropriate category. Appending them to the end of the syllabus signals to students that they are pro forma and not integral to the course. Nonetheless, some policy statements don’t fit well in any other category, and sometimes it is useful to reiterate all policies in a single list, including those that are embedded in the syllabus elsewhere.
University policies or statements that should be integrated into your syllabus or included in a policy section (see section 4 below):

  • Attendance and Participation in determination of course grade
  • Religious Holidays
  • Laboratory Safety / Health Issues
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Statement (SEVIS)
  • Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Academic Dishonesty and Classroom Conduct

-End of Chapter 3

Chapter 4 - EMU Policies and regulations for your EMU syllabus


University policies prohibit the use of attendance as the sole criterion for evaluation of student participation/ performance. An effective policy on attendance or participation should focus on the experiences in the class sessions that are necessary to support the learning experience. Refer to Board of Regents Policies 6.2.1, 6.2.2, and 6.2.5 for specific policies regarding Attendance and Participation. The document “Policies Affecting You Guide” for students may be downloaded from this web page Keep options open for dealing with illness, personal problems, etc., by requiring students to be responsible for their learning (not merely for being present).


The EMU weather policy may be found here Some faculty choose to put this link or a short statement on their syllabus regarding weather-related absences and closures. This is especially helpful for commuter students and for transfers who may be used to different policies.

Sample Syllabus Statement: If class session or laboratory is canceled due to bad weather or instructor absence, students are still responsible for all the readings and assignments listed on the syllabus.

Religious Holidays

Eastern Michigan University recognizes the right of students to observe religious holidays without penalty to the student. You must make accommodations for students who miss class or exams due to religious holidays (see Board of Regents Policy 6.2.5). It is a good idea to look up the major religious holidays in advance so as to anticipate such request.

Sample Syllabus Statement: Students must provide advance notice by in writing to their instructors in order to be allowed to make up work, including examinations, that they miss as a result of absence from class due to observance of religious holidays.

Laboratory Safety/Health Issues

The syllabus should describe all necessary safety procedures that are to be adhered to in any laboratory or practice environment. Any regulations that are mandated should also be included, such as protective garments, eye wear, hazard procedures, or confidentiality of information, including compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Student and Exchange Visitor Statement (SEVIS)

International students must pay special attention to enrollment and academic status, because some changes if not reported can result in loss of visa status and deportation. Do not give visa advice to international students! Please refer them only to the Office of International Students (OIS) 244 EMU Student Center 734.487.3116

The Office of International Students suggested syllabus language: The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) requires F and J students to report the following to the Office of International Students (OIS) 244 EMU Student Center within ten (10) days of the event of changes in:

  • Name or residential address 
  • Academic status
  • Academic major or program of study
  •  Source of funding (including employment or graduate assistant position)
  • Degree completion date
  • Degree level (ex: Bachelors to Masters)

SEVIS further requires F and J students to report the following to the Office of International Students (OIS) 244 EMU Student Center within ten (10) days:

  • Intent to transfer to another school
  • Probation or disciplinary action due to a criminal conviction
  • Prior permission from OIS is required for:
  • Carrying or dropping below minimum credit hours or dropping all courses;  
  • Employment on or off-campus; including volunteer and observation positions.
  • Registering for more than one online course per term (F and J visa)
  • Endorsing I-20 or DS-2019 for re-entry into the USA.

Failure to report may result in the termination of your SEVIS record and even loss of status. If you have questions or concerns, contact the Office of International Students at 734.487.3116. 

Accessibility for all

Federal law and good pedagogical practices require instructors to provide reasonable accommodations to students who have provided documentation of a disability. The Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) 240 EMU Student Center (734) 487-2470 can provide you with detailed guidance. You should emphasize to your students that:

  • Students with disabilities have a right to attend classes and to expect that appropriate adjustments will be made to accommodate their disabilities. They must not be excluded from activities simply because they are disabled
  • If your assigned classroom is not accessible to students with disabilities enrolled in your course, you should make arrangements with the appropriate office to have the classroom changed. If you change the room the course is meeting in, you should be careful that you have not inadvertently excluded students with disabilities from the new location
  • Students with certain kinds of learning disabilities may need tutors and other forms of assistance. In addition, special accommodations for test taking and similar academic requirements may be necessary. While you are not expected to compromise legitimate academic standards, EMU is required by law to provide accommodations for those aspects of the course that are not central to mastery of the material. You are encouraged to be flexible and creative.
  • Please do not call special attention to students with disabilities. As the instructor, you may be informed of a student’s disability because you have a need to know this information, but it should never be shared by you with others. It is up to the student to choose how and when to share.

The Disability Resource Center offers the following suggested syllabus language:
It is my goal that this class be an accessible and welcoming experience for all students, including those with disabilities that may affect their learning in this class. If you believe you may have trouble participating or effectively demonstrating learning in this course, please meet with me (with or without an accommodation letter from the Disability Resource Center) to discuss reasonable options or adjustments. During our discussion, I may suggest the possibility/necessity of your contacting the DRC (240 Student Center; (734) 487-2470; to talk about academic accommodations. You are welcome to talk to me at any point in the semester about such issues, but it is best if we can talk at least one week prior to the need for any modifications.
In addition, you could include: EMU Board of Regents Policy 8.3 requires that anyone wishing accommodation for a disability first registers with the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) in 240 EMU Student Center, telephone: (734) 487-2470. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the DRC promptly as you will only be accommodated from the date you register. No retroactive accommodations are possible.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is federal legislation enacted in 1974 that controls student records. It grants students the right to access their own educational records as well as limiting, for privacy reasons, the release of those same records to anyone other than the student or the student’s designee. FERPA applies to all current and former students of the University. Information that is FERPA protected includes: grades, test scores, ID numbers and social security numbers, financial records, disciplinary records, class schedules, and academic work.
FERPA may be violated if students are asked to submit their work to a public Internet site as a condition of course enrollment. Posting lists of ID numbers, names or grades online, by email or in any public way is a violation. If you must post or email lists of grades, use a pin number that only you and the student knows. There are several U.S. Department of Education opinions stating that student numbers should not be used to post grades. See:

Sample Syllabus Statement: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designated to protect the privacy of a student’s education records and academic work. The law applies to all schools and universities which receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education and is applicable to students at EMU. All files, records, and academic work completed within this course are considered educational records and are protected under FERPA. It is your right as a student in this course to expect that any materials you submit in this course as well as your name and other identifying information will not be viewable by guests or other individuals permitted access to the course. The exception will be only when you have given explicit, written, signed consent. Verbal consent or email is insufficient.
Alternative Syllabus Statement: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. In essence, the act states that 1) students must be permitted to inspect their own “education records” and 2) “school officials” may not disclose personally identifiable information about a student without written permission from the student. For further information on FERPA, contact the Ombudsman.

Academic Dishonesty and Classroom Conduct

The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS – used to be SJS) offers standards on plagiarism and classroom conduct. It is the instructor’s responsibility to determine at what level an instance of academic dishonesty will be dealt with:

  • As an academic matter (for remediation or reduction of grade). This is the best approach when you understand the problem to reflect a failure to learn. In that case, treat the misconduct as you would any other failure to learn (such as a wrong answer on an exam or an error in an assignment) with a grade that reflects the failure and guidance to the student towards mastery of the standard for the next time. OSCCS staff appreciate receiving reports of academic dishonesty even when you treat it wholly as an academic matter.
  • OR as a Student Conduct matter (referral to the OSCCS for investigation as a possible conduct violation). This is the best approach if you understand the problem to be a willful, deliberate act. Once you have contacted the OSCCS and provided details they will carry the investigation forward while the student continues to attend class (except in the rare case of Involuntary Withdrawal - ).
  • OR Both. It is a good idea to contact OSCCS staff to discuss the situation.

NOTE: students have a right to attend class; instructional personnel may not forbid a student from attending class in general (but you may ask them to leave a particular session if they cannot change their behavior). Contact the OSCCS for guidance.

Sample Syllabus Statement on Classroom Conduct: Any successful learning experience requires mutual respect. Neither instructor nor student should be subject to behavior that is rude, disruptive, intimidating, or demeaning. Views may differ on what counts as rudeness or courtesy. If you are not sure what constitutes good conduct in this classroom, ask the instructor. The instructor has primary responsibility for and control over classroom behavior and maintenance of academic integrity.

Sample Syllabus Statement on Plagiarism: Plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately passes off another's words or ideas without acknowledging their source. For example, turning another's work as your own is plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, you will likely fail the assignment on which you are working and your case may be passed to the university for additional disciplinary action. Because of the design and nature of this course, it will take as much (or more) work for you to plagiarize in it than it will to actually complete the work of the class.
Plagiarism is different from misuse of sources, occasions when a writer does not properly cite a source, misuses quotations, includes too much of an original source in a paraphrase or summary, or commits similar unintentional violations of academic protocol. If you misuse sources, we will work together on appropriately incorporating and/or citing the sources. Note that some audiences/instructors will consider misuse of sources to be plagiarism; for this reason, it is extreme important for you to identify the conventions associated with source use and citations in any class (or writing situation).

Resources: Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS):
in particular the Faculty Liability Checklist on that page.
College of Business Ethos Statement:
For plagiarism, see:


Enhancing student skills

Sample Syllabus Statement on EMU Writing Support

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library; 487-0694) offers one-to-one writing consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students can make appointments or drop in between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays . The UWC opens for the Fall 2014 semester on Monday, September 8 and will close on Thursday, December 11 .

The UWC also has several satellite locations across campus (in Owen, Marshall, Pray-Harrold, and Mark Jefferson). These satellites provide writing support to students in various colleges and programs across campus. Satellite locations and hours can be found on the UWC web site:

The Academic Projects Center (116 Halle Library) also offers one-to-one writing consulting for students, in addition to consulting on research and technology-related issues. The APC is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays for Thursdays for drop-in consultations. Additional information about the APC can be found at a

Students seeking writing support at any location of the University Writing Center should bring with them a draft of what they are working on and their assignment sheet.

International Student Resource Center (200 Alexander Building) is a service of the World Languages Department for EMU students who need help with their non-native English language for academic assignments. Help is provided for reading and comprehension, listening and note-taking, improvement of grammatical accuracy, compositions, study skills, and conversation. Note, this is not the Office of International Students.

Specific tutoring desks may be available for your subject area (math, music, etc.) – check with your department or Holman Success Center.

 -End of Chapter 4

Chapter 5 - Samples, guides and templates for syllabi

Examples from the wild (note, these syllabi are the intellectual property of their creators).

  1. 1. Syllabi using the people.emich web page have the advantage of being easy to update if you have the web editing skills; but students can misplace the url or information on how to locate the webpage.
  2. 2. Syllabi on the web as pdf or Word documents have the advantage of being easy to print, but the disadvantage that they are more difficult to edit on the fly. Unless they are embedded in a course shell or web page, students risk losing or deleting them.
  3. 3. No matter what the format, tables of contents alert students to the fact that the syllabus contains diverse information, and aid in navigation.
  4. 4. More examples may be found at syllabus repositories such as
  5. 5. Templates and Guides for Syllabi

Further Reading

Afros E. and C. F. Schryer. (2009). The genre of syllabus in higher education Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8(3): 224-233 doi:10.1016/j.jeap.2009.01.004

Anderson L.W., et al (eds). (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing – A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Collins, T. (1997). For openers: an inclusive course syllabus. In: W.E. Campbell and K.A. Smith, Editors, New paradigms for college teaching. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company, pp. 79–102.

Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Grunert, J. (1997). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company

Ko, S. and S. Rossen. (2004). Teaching online : a practical guide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
See in particular Ch. 4 “creating an effective online syllabus”

Wingfield S. S. and Black, G. S. (2005) Active versus passive course designs: the impact on student outcomes. Journal of Education for Business 81(2): 119-125.

-End of Chapter 5