NFO 2008: Course Syllabus Design – Full Video


♪ [music playing–
no dialogue] ♪♪. (Dr. Lee).
Thank you Krishna, thank you for the
wonderful introduction. My name is Jing Hi, and
this is a workshop entitled Course Syllabus Design, right? Yeah, I gave a workshop which is
Course Planning, which is along with design at University
of Illinois so I was confused, but this is more specifically on
writing a syllabus or designing syllabi if you have to
teach more than one subject most likely. It’s my priviledge to be here
with you, because I still feel like I am such a junior faculty
at Eastern Illinois University. I taught at one of the state
universities in Kansas before I joined EIU faculty, and
this is my fourth year at EIU, so apparently my memory is still
fresh when I had to struggle with all of these multiple
tasks professors have to do in a university like this. And we have such a good size of
students and in it you will see enough diversity, the undergrad,
grad, and who would like to go on to the PhD, and who would
like to just get a job after BA or MA, in terms of ethnicity
and where they come from and the class background. It seems monotonous place in
central Illinois, but in fact there is much diversity in it,
so when we think about designing a course and writing a syllabus
that can be effective for all of our students, it needs a
little more thinking than we would have wished. So, this time I would like
to go over some of the basic definitions and functions of
syllabus, and also go over some of the categories that many
people recommend we include in our syllabus. And I’m also working as a
coordinator of Asian studies, which is an interdisciplinary
minor program at Eastern, so I got a chance to collect
many different disciplinary syllabi from my colleagues
to just keep a record of the courses we are offering
in the name of Asian studies as well as history. So I do hope that we will get a
chance to have some meaningful discussion, which can be
practically helpful for you, not just to participate here
because it’s sort of required and it will look bad on
me if I don’t participate. I hope this will not be a
waste of time in such a manner, but actually practically helpful
for you, and also create some network from start with our
colleagues, old and new so that you can get tips and help
and advice that we will need to adjust to the
new environment here at Eastern Illinois University. Before I start getting into the
actual content of the workshop, I would like to know how many
of you will be working in the College of Arts and Sciences,
I mean Arts and Humanities. Okay, how about
sciences, College of Sciences? Okay about half and half. And the rest of
you, what are you? [laughter]. Business, education, could
you raise your hand how many education folks we have. Okay five, business? Okay, and anything
else that I’m missing? (male speaker).
Technology. (Dr. Lee).
Technology, you are? Oh, two of them, two of you. So most of us are dealing
with the Social Sciences and Humanities, and also business
and technology and education. I think we have a good
group to have more focused discussion then. First of all, I just passed
around this handout which has the title of H-I-S-T 101. World History, second segment
of world history, fall semester, does everyone have it? And this one is an example
of either to follow or not to follow, I’ll leave
it up to your judgment. I anticipated to do this
workshop for one session so I don’t have enough number
of copies for the second group, so if you could leave it on the
bench by the piano afterwards I would appreciate it. Then the next group will
use this syllabus again. Now you have this example of a
syllabus that is suppose to be I guess history, but as
you go over to the two pages of the document, you will find
many different elements and information about this course,
the instructor, course schedule, and so on and so forth. I want you to take a minute or
two and just take a look at it and see what kind of improvement
you would like to suggest to this professor,
Indiana Jones. So, I’ll give you
a couple minutes. Please go over them and see
what areas you think you like or dislike, and what kind
of improvement you suggest this person to make. [no dialogue]. I heard some chuckling here
and there, you probably found some areas very
hilarious and ridiculous. Let’s see what kind of things
are a little bit odd here. (male speaker).
[unclear audio]. (Dr. Lee).
What does this say? It does have course title right? And course rubric. (male speaker).
[unclear audio]. (Dr. Lee).
No contact information. No accurate and
detailed contact information. If you read it from a student
perspective, you don’t know how to contact a person, although
it does have office number, the room number. It doesn’t say
which building right? (male speaker).
We don’t know what semester or year this this course is in. (Dr. Lee).
We don’t know what semester or what year
this course is offered, and the course title too,
it’s a little too broad. And World History 2,
what does that mean? Does it mean World War II,
does it mean 20th Century, I don’t know right? (male speaker).
I’m looking at this syllabi, and it’s a little
bit unorganized. For example, it didn’t mention
how much things were worth, like how many points. (Dr. Lee).
Exactly, all he says is there would be some exams,
midterm tests, oral exams, big paper, quiz, but he
doesn’t say how much worth of their final grade each of
these category will have, right? (male speaker).
Textbook information? (Dr. Lee).
Textbook information is not found. Where can I find books. What else can you see? (male speaker).
[unclear audio]. (Dr. Lee).
You are absolutely right. Are they relevant? (audience).
No. (Dr. Lee).
What does AAS stand for? Students have no idea, they
don’t even know whether they are relevant to
world history or not. What else do you find? And also, I do agree with you,
it’s very unorganized just in terms of editing. You found probably
many typos, right? (audience).
Yes. (Dr. Lee).
And font and lines are not aligned, it’s
a little chaotic when you tried to read it at first,
it just doesn’t come into your eyes easily. What else did you find? (male speaker).
[unclear audio]. (Dr. Lee).
Right. You should give some time
for students to prepare for the next exam, right? What about the schedule,
the course schedule, what did you find? (female speaker).
It should be more detailed. (Dr. Lee).
It should be a little more detailed. (female speaker).
For each assignment, the students need to
know what they need to read and what the
expectations are so they will be prepared
for their class. (Dr. Lee).
Exactly, it says guest speaker. How do we know what kinds
of things the person is going to talk about, and what to read
in preparation for that session. And he says big
discussion, but on what? How to prepare for it, the
students have little idea. Anything else? There are many more,
even more problems here. Yes, go ahead and then
we’ll get back to you. (female speaker).
Bring your homework to every class or
suffer the consequences, what are the consequences? (Dr. Lee).
What are the consequences? Certainly is threatening, but
students don’t know what kind of penalty there will be, or how
many points will be deducted and whether they will lose
points by not attending it, if so, how many, how
much and so on and so forth. So it’s hard for students to
have a clear idea about what the instructors expectations will
be, and Odessa is that right? (Odessa).
Yes, actually the schedule makes it appear that
the professor really isn’t interested in
what he is teaching. There’s boss day and then
two to be announced days, and important, there’s just too
many cases like I’ll be in D.C. you know and so on. (Dr. Lee).
For an entire week you don’t have a class right? (Odessa).
So it just appears he’s easily interested,
and he’s most excited for Thanksgiving break
and the last day of class. That lowers the students
expectations of what they are suppose to be
looking for in class. (Dr. Lee).
Exactly, but at the same time the person says this
going to be a great class, we are going to have a lot
of fun, it’s going to be a good class so
come expecting that. That kind of spirit is there in
a corner, but on the other hand, in the content of the syllabus
it doesn’t really convey that kind of spirit and
feeling that instructor has. If the person tried to do so,
he did it poorly, ineffectively right, so this is wonderful,
you found many areas that this person can improve. And believe it or not, this is
not a story of someone else over there who didn’t
get a job and is a loser, it’s a story of our own. You know why, because being a
professor, being a university faculty requires so many
different layers of works and tests, so we are pressured,
pressed with time and sometimes you do make a mistake like this. You just have to come up
with the syllabus over night, and you don’t even have enough
number of copies in the morning for the first class. So it does happen, and how can
you reduce that kind of stress and this kind of mistakes? Well first thing I would like
suggest to you is that we will need to root in it,
learn to rootinize our tasks a little bit. So once you develop your own
mechanism to design, write a new syllabus in the beginning
of your career at Eastern, for example you will need to see
what kind of institutional needs there are for your course,
and what kind of departmental needs there are. What kind of courses there
are already available for our students, what kind of
things am I going to contribute? So have some sort of big vision
and clear idea about the vision of the institution, the
department, and also my own. So, you probably have
your own teaching philosophy, and the things that you
would like to emphasize in your teaching and your own
teaching methods and style. But if they don’t go well,
quite well with the rest of the instituton, sometimes
you have to go experience unnecessary conflict and
as a result, waste a lot of time and energy. So I would like to suggest to
you that it’s important for us to have some clear idea about
the vision that EIU has and also what kind of needs our students
have in our department, in our college, in our
university, and how am I going to apply my teaching philosophy,
my teaching skills and methods and activities into
that existing framework. And if you see a problem
with the framework, the larger framework which was created
before you got here, then you can think about ways to work
into that system to that you can improve that existing
framework in a practical way, in a feasible manner. So, I would like to think a
little bit about what a syllabus is for before we get into
detail, category, areas, and elements of a syllabus. What kind of function
and meaning do you think the syllabus has in general? (female speaker).
[unclear audio)]. (Dr. Lee).
So it’s going to provide overall outline for what
students are going to learn, what students are expected to
do, and what the instructors are also expected to do. Yes. (male speaker).
I always tell my students to consider a contract,
which is what I agree to do and if you decided
to stay in the section, it’s what you agree to do. (Dr. Lee).
Very good, in a way it’s a document of promise and
contract, if you like that term. So it is a one pound
finished, completed document that instructor and
students are bound by. If we don’t have that kind of
seriousness when we hand out a syllabus, it easily becomes a
place where we abuse our power, because students are really
vulnerable in their GPA, when they think about GPA,
their career options, and how the faculty is going to look
at them, and all those things are figured into
their ideas and minds. So if we do not have the kind
of seriousness when we hand out our document of promise, then
it becomes a source of abuse of the faculty power
against the students. So that’s a very good point
and important point, but which is easy for us to forget. So the syllabus is a,
regionally etymology. I did a little research and
I found that the etymology of syllabus says
it’s a cover of a book. So, if you see a loose page of a
book you have very little idea, and you get just so little that
you can get from that one page out of 300 pages of the book. But, syllabus is like the cover
for the entire book which would give you an idea about overall
outline and also the promise of the author of what you are
going to present in that book. So our goal is to make that
cover as effective as possible, as clear as possible, as helpful
as possible both for the student as well as for myself, because I
know I’m bound by that syllabus too, not just my students. So we can say that the
definition of syllabus is a statement or a summary
outline of the subjects covered by the course of instruction. So there could be many
different various definitions, but in one way or another
definition of a syllabus includes this
kind of meaning in it. In my case, one of the central
missions that I had in my own field of Modern World History,
especially East Asian History, Japanese and Korean
history and colonial history. I had an idea that our students
would benefit a little bit more if they learned about Asian
countries in their history, because although we talk about
a Pacific century after the Atlantic century, and
we talk about the rise of an economic superpower
in China and India. We had an economic superpower
in Japan and other mini dragons in the East Asian region
for many years already, but our students curricula
in their K-12 curricula, I find that there’s something
lacking there in terms of their education regarding history
of other parts of the world, in particular Asia, Latin
America, Africa and so on and so forth, not to
mention Middle East. So my sense of calling as a
scholar, as well as a teacher, was that I’m going to figure
this part into our students curricula somehow in an
effective and helpful manner. So with a sense of my own
sense of calling and mission as a teacher, I tried to develop
the courses that are closely related to my own research,
and also to my interests as a teacher. So I began to develop
many different courses, whether it was a modern Japanese
history, or the course about North and South Korea,
or a woman in East Asia. I began to design those courses,
but having my own sense of vision statement as to what
kind of teacher I want to be, and also what kind of things
do I want to teach our students on our campus, and what are
students’ needs as I think, as best as I think,
as I could think. When I have those broader
objectivist goals for myself, it got easier for me to write
course description and narrow down the course topic and
the schedule, the detail topics for each week. So I would really suggest that
sometimes, although sometimes you don’t have a choice, you are
just given teach this course and modern syllabi are here. That could be the case, but
still there’s much room for you to be as creative as possible
as you want, and make it as meaningful as
you want it to be. So I want you to think about
writing a syllabus and designing a course is sort of fun, where
you can not only deliver what you know to the students,
but also create something out of nothing. And in the process of
delivering that knowledge, you can influence so many young
minds in a meaningful way, and in order to
achieve that goal. What kind of activities will be
best, and what kind of things will be most affective,
and what are the examples that I can borrow. What are the models in this
field of study for our students that I can consider, whether
it’s online resource material or your own department colleagues,
senior teacher scholars, or by attending the conferences
on teaching in your own discipline in a regional
realm, a national level, or an international level. So I want you to take all those
examples, examples, and tips that are available for you and
try to improve your syllabus design as you move along. So it’s not just a one
time task in the beginning, in the beginning there’s a
little more work, because you will have to make yourself
familiar with the institutional needs and the missions and
the departmental structure so on and so forth. But then as semester goes by,
those things are already there in your office
computer or in your mind. And later on you will just add
one at a time, add one more new course and revise one old course
that you have taught before one at a time, then it
becomes routinized. And then although it’s
routinized, you get into the detail, the content of
the syllabus for each course you will have a new sort of
joy and fun, and that has been my experience in a list. And also, utilize the available
sources around you, for example most of your departments keep
a stack of old syllabi that have been for the courses that
have been offered to students through that department
for many, many years. So you can see so many different
samples, and if you find, if you get information on so
and so teacher being a great scholar, ask the person to give
you the example of the syllabi in this area, or ask them
for classroom activities that worked really well, and the
number of exams, the amount of reading that our students
can handle in that department in general and
so on and so forth. So asking those questions will
put you into a more advantageous position than pretending
that you know everything. You already have the
teaching experience in another institution, because it’s a
new place and a new group of students. Feel free to ask and bother
your colleagues whether it’s in a department or in
college, or outside. And also, what I already
mentioned, include the professional conference. There are a number of
different conferences in our own discipline,
whether it’s history, English, or other
disciplinary conferences. Often times they do
have some sessions dedicated to the pedagogy or the
teaching methods and so on and so forth. And also there are
totally separate, but related, closely related conferences that
are specializing in teaching higher educational institution. And so our faculty development
office has a number of different links and the ideas, and
sometimes they provide fund too for you to go to those
related teaching conferences. And sometimes the fresh
PhD’s from a big R1 university, research focused university
think that going to that kind of conference, I don’t
have time to do those things, it’s just something that
I’ll be interested in after I get tenure. But guess what, by the time
you get tenure you lost your interest in teaching and
improving your teaching. It’s just something that comes
with each year, so as you do try to improve your course
and relate your research and academic interest
and your teaching interest, it’s going to become more and
more effective, and you will become more and more engaged in
this field of important tasks that professors have to do. True, designing a course and
teaching is just one part of our professional life, we have
to write a number of grants, publish, and we have to serve in
many different functions in our university and beyond, but if we
take out the teaching component and the influence that
we have over our students, then we probably are
missing too much in our own professional life. And above all, the influences
that we have as a scholar has a lot of overlapping areas where
our teaching can influence. So I try to think of myself that
teaching and research are not two seperate realms, they
are very intricately connected. And the ideas that I got for my
research method, writing methods often get into my course design
and the classroom activities. So, and also learning about
what other scholars are doing in their own courses. Nowadays there are so many
online materials and sources that are available even on this
topic of syllabus, writing, and course designing. So once you look at what other
colleagues are doing who are also wonderful and fabulous
scholars, and also wonderful teachers, there are so many
things that we can learn from them in our own field. So I would like to suggest that
we try to be openminded and be flexible, and be responsive to
the students feedback after one semester, and also feel free
to share your syllabi with your colleagues, whether they
are on campus or off campus. And give a feedback for one
another, and you can borrow many different wonderful tools to
improve our teaching as well as our research, so let’s try
to be a little less defensive and share. And it’s just amazing to
see how many course syllabi are available online. Is there anyone who heard
of the website offered by George Mason University,
syllabus finder? Is there anyone who’s seen it? There is a website
you can easily Google, or use any search engine. If you put syllabus finder,
then you will probably hit that website the first time,
but if you don’t see it then George Mason
University in the TC area. Then it will bring a number of
different syllabi in different areas, but it tends to have more
number of syllabi, examplary syllabi in the field of
humanities and social sciences then technology and business. But it does have some related
and interesting syllabi that you might find interesting in terms
of business and technology and education as well. Now I would like us to take a
look at the second handout that I passed around which as a title
of Suggested Syllabus Checklist. Yes. (female speaker).
I don’t have a copy of this. (Dr. Lee).
Let’s see here, somehow it stopped here. Nobody has it in the back row? The Suggested
Syllabus Checklist. One side, one sided,
it will get to you. [no dialogue]. By the way, I would like
to really thank the faculty orientation organizers because I
wish I had this kind of workshop when I started out in
Kansas several years ago. Then it would have reduced the
amount of stress and time that I had to spend in searching for
these kind of tips, of course this is not complete, it is just
the beginning of tips that come from a junior faculty member
like myself, but still it helps you to start thinking about
this realm of academic task and professional works. So, I hope that this will be
something that you can utilize right away as you start
finalizing your syllabi before you make the photocopy. If you already did, wonderful,
you are being very, very timely. If not, then maybe there could
be some things that you could add and remove from your current
syllabi that you are going to use for this semester. The reason why this kind
of syllabus checklist can be helpful is not because we
need to conform to one form of syllabus among all university
professionals or faculty members, but simply because
it is to important for syllabus content to be determined by
market force, corporate America. We are going to write
whatever students love to see in my syllabus, no, no, no. We also have to think about our
professional, ethical obligation to guide our students to be
trained to be a professional themselves after
college education. And also, having this kind of
checklist is helpful, because we don’t want to just mimic
whatever that exists on our campus or in our own field, we
want to find room to be creative and meaningful, make it
meaningful for our own teaching philosophy and our own
interests in teaching too. And also it’s a good way to
think about how we are going to balance out my own interest,
my own unique creative methods with what is expected from
the institution, so let’s try to think about
balancing it out. Sometimes when you try to
push yourself too much to one extreme, I’m going to be
as creative as I want to be, and the other extreme example
would be, I’ll just do whatever my senior professor
did in my department. Both of them have advantages and
disadvantages, but I find that as I talk with my colleagues
most of the colleagues who are wonderful, great teacher
scholars, they find it most meaningful when they try
to match these two interests and needs in their
own way, creative way. So hopefully this syllabus
checklist, this kind of syllabus checklist, this is not the
syllabus checklist, this is just one of many suggested syllabus
checklists that I found helpful for myself. I hope having this kind
of checklist will be helpful for you to find the balance
between the institutional departmental needs and my own
unique approach to my course. Here I categorized different
elements of syllabus into four. The basic course information,
instructor information, a little more detailed
course information regarding the requirements, grading
policies, casual, and so on and so forth, and other
information that you might want to consider putting
in your syllabus. May I ask you to turn to
your neighbor and go over these categories, and see what
areas you have trouble with or questions about
for further details. For example, course prefix
and number and if you have a question, and then
you can ask your neighbor. See what other
information your neighbor has. And see if there’s any
disciplinary questions that you can think of in
these categories. So please feel free to
talk to your neighbor, right, left, front, or back. We’ll take a couple minutes. Okay, shall we share our
wisdom that you discussed with your neighbor? Okay, basic course information,
depending on what type of teaching philosophy
and idea that you have about your course, all these things
might not be appealing to you. But this is just one model that
shows the different elements that both students and
instructors found helpful. Before we had a chance to think
about syllabus as a contract, that is a very, very good
analogy, but to me it works even better when I think about
it as a scholarly document. For example, when we publish
in peer reviewed journals, in books, it goes
through such a throrough review process mostly. And if we think about syllabus
in that way, it’s one of my scholarly documents, then you
think twice about each elements in the wording and editing,
and all the different stages of writing a syllabus. I found that very helpful for
me to think about some of my syllabus as a scholary document,
although it doesn’t have to get the approval of my
editor or publisher, or department head often. So that might be another way to
think about it as my scholarly document that I produce. And not to scare you but,
your syllabus is likely to be archived in your department
office or in the university somewhere, so it’s going to
remain there for many, many years if not decades. So, if you think about it as an
archival document that’s going to last, you don’t want to
read your errors and typos and mistakes, and unhealthy
elements in it as much as possible when you can. First area of the elements
that we often find helpful in the syllabus is
basic course information. It says course prefix and
number, and title, and term of offering. At Eastern I don’t know
if you got a chance to look at the course catalog
which is available online. There are ways to abbreviate
different departmental courses on our campus. For example, my previous
institution had H-I-S-T, hist for history courses,
but here we use three letters, so H-I-S. So I have much objection to it
because History is his story, not her story, but in history
courses, our courses all start with H-I-S. So the example syllabus that I
provided at first doesn’t even know how to abbreviate the
course prefix on our campus. And this is not just to conform
and be consistent with other course syllabi on our campus,
but also to help students to reduce the room for
confusion when they look up in the catalog when they
are looking for H-I-S-T, but no where they can find in
the pages of the course catalog where the course information
sheets that they got from the department. So it’s just to be a
little nicer, as well as to be consistent with the rest of
the courses that are available on our campus. Course prefix and number, you
are going to hear a little bit more on how to create a
rubric from your next session from another presenter, and
often times the number has some meaning, the level, sometimes
the groups of courses that are offered in your department. So try to learn a little about
in the beginning, try to learn a little about what are the
criteria that designate which number to what kind of courses
and what are the prerequisites for the courses that are
above certain numbers and so on and so forth. And course title is tricky,
because sometimes you have to have short title and long title. Sometimes course catalog,
whether it is in print or online, there is a word limit,
a number of words you can use. So sometimes you need to design
a short title and then full, a long title, but you can put
all of them in your syllabus. Class meeting times, locations,
and course description. You can start with overall goals
that you have in your course and then be more specific, maybe
provide two or three sentences that give a little more concrete
specific ideas as to what students could do
after they take this course. And special attributes,
sometimes there are so many student questions asking
about, is it going to fulfill my general education
requirement, or non-western requirement blah-blah-blah. And you have to answer the same
questions again, and again, and again for the
first two weeks or so. In order to reduce that kind
of time that is precious to you to deliver a more substantial
and even more enjoyable content to your student and your
classtime, I suggest that you provide these special attributes
for your course in your syllabus in writing. And we have a writing centered,
writing intensive courses that are designated for more
extensive writing training as a part of their course
requirements, so find out if your course will be
either writing centered or writing intensive. If so, you want to find out what
those requirements are and also specify it in your syllabus
so that the students will have a crystal clear idea, and have
a little bit more motivation, oh this course will fulfill
this requirement and that requirement too. So, these are some
basic course information. Is there anything that you
were not clear about or that you found tricky, or had questions
about regarding how much basic course information
we need to provide? This is pretty self-explanatory. What about the
instructor information? This is where huge
variances can be found. Some people, some instructors
love to give out more private information to the students to
create more sense of intimacy and closeness with the students,
but other people want to hold onto the strict professional
line and they don’t want to go beyond it. It’s up to you, whatever
you think is necessary, and also whatever is
appropriate, sometimes whether it’s a graduate class
or whether it’s a large lecture course with a hundred
students, it creates differences in terms of what kinds of
information, and how much information you want to put. And also how long you want your
syllabus to be, depending on the number of copies
that you want to make. Nowadays we have all these
online tools that you can upload, even I’ve seen up
to 17 to 18 pages of syllabi of my colleague which is
all uploading it online. But the in class version
that you hand out in hard copy, maybe you can shorten it, you
can put the detail the thematic schedule or the activities. All those things can be uploaded
online using Blackboard or whatever the software our
university sponsors us to use, and then provide the most
important basic skeleton of syllabus in hard copy. That’s one way to deal
with the length of the syllabus or the number of
pages in your syllabus. What do you think about
the instructor information? What do you think is missing,
or any second thoughts about all these categories under
Roman numeral two, instructor information. Nothing? Title can be tricky, some people
like to be called in one way, other people in the other way,
but you can specify it in your first class so students will
not have to struggle to find the right title to
call my professor. One title that I hate to
hear from my students is misses. They would never call
their male professor mister at first right, but for a
female professor they often call miss or misses. It just comes right out of their
mouth somehow, maybe that tells us the history of the
gender, in equality in higher education in the PhD’s
in this country but E-mail and telephone number,
sometimes it’s also helpful that you say, the best way to reach
me is via e-mail, or via office number, or feel free to call me
at home if it’s an upper level graduate course with students
who you are actually supervising for their thesis, sometimes
it’s helpful to provide a little more information. What about course requirements,
grading policies, schedule, and other classroom policies? Is there anything that
particularly worked good for you, worked well
for you in that past? Yes. (male speaker).
I can’t answer that, but I do have a question. Alright, so I’ve probably been
teaching for about six years, and one of the things that I’ve
noticed in my policy statement is that it tends to get longer
and longer as things come up and I decide to write them
in, please don’t do this, please don’t do that, or do this
do that whatever it might be. And I’m really interested in
adjusting my philosophy because I don’t like to have a
rigorous kind of syllabus. One of my colleagues had a nine
page syllabus for a course that really didn’t need it, things
like an arithmetic equation, attendance, the size of cup you
could use during a presentation, silly things that after
some time you probably think, okay I would hope
that they know better. I’m trying to figure out
how you really draw that line for yourself as
your creating this. When do you stop and say hard
sole shoes, please walk quietly if someone’s talking, or you
know at somepoint you have to kind of pull back. I’m really struggling
with where I pull back. (Dr. Lee).
That’s a fantastic question that we all struggle with
at one point or another. What do you guys think, to
what extent do we need to be legalist, to an extent
we can deliver the essence of our policies? (male speaker).
Maybe talking to them about professionalism on
the first day and saying what you expect as a
professional and trying to give them guidelines, basic
guidelines, there’s never going to be a perfect solution. (Dr. Lee).
There would never be a perfect law that
would make our classroom or society perfect. If you rely on regulations,
rules, and laws and penal codes, it’s endless. But sometimes if you deliver the
very essence, the motivation, and the reason why you try
to put some policies in your own class, then
sometimes that works better. So in other words, try to
find a way to deliver what kind of standard you
are going to hold. So you mention that we are
going to be professional in this business course for example,
I’m here to train you, or study with you, guide you to
become a business professional. So if you have some questions
about some other details of conducts in classroom,
please think about it whether it’s helpful for your training
or not, whether it is helpful for you to learn better
in this course by doing so. So sometimes giving a higher
level philosophy and the basic standard approach and etiquette
that you have, sometimes that can reduce the number
of detailed questions that students might have. Nowadays the Wikipedia is
just like another I don’t know, encyclopedia that’s in the
students mind, so if you want to give examples of bad sources
that they cannot use in their serious academic writing, you
cannot possibly list all of them that are online. But if you just give one example
that is most widely used by students and give a principle
behind it why it’s not a good idea, then students will get it,
oh then maybe the other sites have the same problem. So sometimes think about what
could be the basic principle that I want to deliver to
my students, in what spirit, and always there’s no harm to
emphasize again that the reason why we are here is to learn, and
the reason why I want to enforce these kinds of
policies in our class. Enforce is a hard term, but
is to help you to learn better and to get better training
while you are here with me. And then provide some of
the most important examples, and then maybe students can,
I mean that are adults in a way. And also depending on what level
of courses you are teaching, it will make much difference in
terms of how detailed you need to go in terms of
the classroom policies. Grad school, a grad program,
a grad course syllabus will have different
policies than the intro level World History
class for example. Yes. (Odessa).
Also, I think it needs to be taken into consideration
that students and teachers, students and professors, all
have different personalities, and whereas you may be
teaching the exact same course as someone else, students
may respond a bit differently to you than they may
to another professor. And so, over a course of
time you start to develop an understanding of what
best works with your students. Now someone may be, someone,
one professor when they express ideas may present it in one way,
another professor may present it in another way, but both reach
the same goal, the intention of which you want the student
to garner from that course. So you have to recall what
your experiences have been, what your experiences have
been because as I said before, students respond to different
professors in different ways. For example, you mentioned
how they will come into a female professor’s
presence and say Miss. Now they know you are a doctor,
but they’ll insist on Miss. With some professors they may
not do that, but with others if you insist on being, if you
even politely say I am doctor, they’ll go, oh my goodness,
doctor, you have to learn over a period of time, don’t
respond to that the way their anticipating you
to respond to that. So when you develop your course
syllabi, recall the experiences that you’ve had, recall
the level, even realize what institution your at, what
level of students you receive into that classroom. How much knowledge do
they believe themselves to already have? What positive and negative
experiences you’ve had in the past, and not really
compare ourselves at any time with another professor. Discover what works best for us,
so that when we come in contact with that population of
students, we will have over a period of time, sound ways
that may not necessarily address every element on our
syllabus, but over a period of time a growth into a document
that really will be able to function better
as time goes by. (Dr. Lee).
Absolutely. (Odessa).
So one person may have to come up with an eight page
syllabus, maybe they can’t communicate and maybe the way
they communicate requires that they do that. Maybe they have to put
more detail in their syllabus. Another professor may
have a three page syllabus and it’s like, hey ya’ll whats
up, we’re going to be in here, we’re going to get this done. [laughter]. It may not even be that
big of a deal to them, but it’s the end product that
the student’s get at the end of the course
that’s most important. (Dr. Lee).
Right, so what’s our final goal for the course right? And try to think about the ways
in which that can apply that can go in a most effective
manner, a condescent manner. And that’s absolutely a
very, very crucial point, that there’s no
perfect syllabus. There’s no way for you to write
a syllabus that makes every student happy, but fortunately
we do have some patterns for example, in an introductory
level history course the group of students I usually get are
like this, and over the years I realize that they respond
to this policy in such a manner in which I need to reconsider. So try to be responsive, and
also although you will not just simply mimic and borrow whatever
the other people have had, and whatever works good for
them, but it might not work for me too. But it never hurts to know what
kind of tools that they had, what kind of things work
for them when they taught a similar group of students,
so there are patterns. And so while you’re reading the
student’s responses to certain policies and also while
your considering revising your syllabi over time, also listen
to other colleagues and their experiences so they can broaden
your information even more. But never expect that your
syllabus will be perfect for every student, because students
always find a way to complain. ♪ [music playing–
no dialogue] ♪♪.

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