It’s syllabus time for many of us so I wanted to share with you one of my syllabi and highlight one component. The syllabus was developed for my 120+ student sized class Sociology 101 course I am teaching this fall at Georgia Southern University. I treat my syllabi like a contract between myself and my students, so I try to be very thorough.

One of the sections I am adding this term is a clear definition of “My Role as Professor” and “Your Role as Student.” Many students come in expecting a “teacher as expert” classroom model. They want the teacher to tell them what is “really important” a.k.a. what is on the test. Students with this learning mindset write on course evaluations that they want, “the class to focus more on what will be on the test” and that they want, “less group work.” Group work, from this mindset, is time wasted that could have been spent pulling information from the expert at the front of the room. I want to move my students away from this mindset as quickly as possible because no student grows as a human being in a “teacher as expert” class. If you want to be more than the holder of knowledge worth knowing, if you want students to develop critical analysis skills then you have to extinguish this expectation right away. I address this and a couple of other points in the excerpt from my syllabus below:

My Role as Professor
As the professor I am responsible for creating a safe, interesting, and maybe even fun learning environment for all students. I will help students learn the course material by providing activities, artistic expressions (a.k.a. media), discussion topics, and, when needed, individualized attention. I should be a thought provoker, a source of information, and an educational trainer pushing you to reach the high expectations I have for you in this class. I have spent a great deal of time to ensure that this class will be like no other you’ve taken before. I want you to leave class each day excited and motivated to apply the lessons of sociology in your personal life.

As a professor I am not responsible for telling you “what to study for the test”. I will not go over every piece of information that you will need to know for the quizzes. If you hoped that I, as the professor, would be a resource for you to find how you can put out the least amount of energy while still earning a good grade, I am probably not the instructor you are looking for. I respect you and your other time commitments enough to share this with you up front.

Your Role as Student
As a student in this class your primary responsibility is to come to class prepared. That includes doing the assigned reading and taking the time to think about how it relates to your experiences and the world around you. In class you are expected to give all of us your attention and participate in class and group activities and discussion. To put it simply, if you hope to do well in this class you have to be an active participant in your education.

You can find my entire syllabus here and feel free to use any piece of it without attribution. Many of my colleagues deserve credit for pieces of this syllabus as well. No one teaches alone, but this is especially true when it comes to syllabi. If you have syllabi or components of syllabi that you would like to share please feel free to send them here.

Soc 101 Syllabus