I received a number of interesting responses. One common theme: The words used on the syllabus definitely matter, but so does the visual presentation.
Liz Norell, an associate professor of political science at Chattanooga State Community College, summed up her approach by writing, “I’ve worked really hard to adapt my syllabus into a document that’s readable, user-friendly, and supportive.”
Cathy Stierman, an assistant professor of education at Clarke University, uses color and graphics to break hers up — and keeps them contained to a single page. The format, she wrote, has been well received by students, who, she adds, “ask every semester if I have been, or will be, in trouble for doing this. Makes me sad and yet cracks me up every time!”
In fact, Stierman wrote, a former president encouraged moving the syllabus in this direction, providing the kind of “permission” that fosters experimentation.
Cara Hersh, an associate