The conceptual organization and the pedagogical strategy of a course are up to the instructor, but a printed syllabus must be provided to students at the beginning of the term. If there are any changes to the syllabus over the course of the term, students should also be provided with the printed revision. The syllabus represents a contract with the students, a statement about what they’re getting into, what is expected of them and what they should expect from the instructor.
All syllabi should contain the elements listed below.
- School name (NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study)
- Course title and course number
- Semester and year
- Class days and times
- Classroom location
- Instructor name and email address
- Instructor office number and office hours
Content of Syllabus
- course description (same as the one published in Gallatin's course booklet)
- course objectives (for example, this list could include such things as depth of knowledge in a particulary field, writing skills, artistic techniques, etc.)
- a list of course requirements including readings, assignments, class participation, attendance, your policy concerning late papers or missed assignments, etc.
- a brief statement on academic integrity and plagiarism (please follow the link to find a sample statement that you can include in your syllabus)
- a grading policy identifying and detailing your specific standards, as well as a policy regarding grades of “Incomplete”
- a detailed (session-by-session) plan for class meetings, including reading and writing assignments, topics, exams, etc.
Finally, given the large number of personal electronic devices, it might be a good idea to include some parameters on the use of laptops, tablets, cellphones, etc.
For its records, Gallatin requires faculty to turn in a copy of their syllabus at the beginning of every semester. The Office of Faculty Services will keep the syllabus on file for several reasons, but primarily for students who are going on to graduate programs (or seeking certification) and who may need to submit your syllabus to another institution. Please keep this in mind when designing a syllabus.
In addition, if an instructor is planning a field trip during the course of the semester, please note this information on the syllabus (including the appropriate date and time of the trip and the location) so that the Office of Faculty Services can help students find your class, if necessary. If this information is not available prior to the completion of the syllabus, please make sure the Faculty Affairs office is informed of your outing.
There are no hard and fast rules about the number or volume of assignments instructors should give to their students. A general standard is this: On the assumption that being a full-time student is the equivalent of having a full-time job of 40-45 hours per week, a student taking four classes should expect to spend a total of 10 hours per week on each class. Since students spend 2.5 hours in class meetings, faculty should feel justified in assigning about 7–8 hours of work per week outside of class, with the understanding that it may go higher when papers are due.
The specific nature of the assignments will of course vary across course types: frequent short papers in the First-Year Writing Seminar, a research paper in First-Year Research Seminar, and occasional projects or performances in Arts Workshops. Interdisciplinary Seminars should have a demanding level of academic difficulty, with approximately 100-150 pages of reading a week (this may vary depending on the density of the text) and at least 10-20 pages of writing over the course of the term. Whenever possible, instructors should assign whole books or complete essays, rather than excerpts. The syllabus should include the exact pages of readings assigned for each class. For more details about student assignments, please contact the program director.
We think students have a right, however, to produce enough work and receive enough feedback throughout the semester so they have a sense of how they are doing in a course; it is probably not a good idea to assign only one paper, for instance, that will be the basis for the entire grade.
In setting the deadline for students to submit final papers or projects, faculty should allow enough time to evaluate the students’ work and to meet Gallatin’s deadline for submitting final grades. As a general rule, final grades for the fall and spring terms are due two to three days before the last day of final exams. If an instructor schedules a final exam on or after this deadline, he or she may request an extension from the dean's office.
Faculty should include a brief statement about academic integrity in the syllabus, and then discuss the concept with students. They should know what is meant by the term, and how to avoid committing plagiarism.
The syllabus should explain to students how the instructor will calculate the final grade: what factors will be taken into account (e.g., attendance, participation, various papers, presentations, etc.) and what relative weight each will have (e.g., participation constitutes 10% of the final grade). Parameters do not have to be reducible to numbers—faculty can still exercise your judgment—but they should be reasonable and clear.
Generally, Gallatin leaves it up to the instructor to formulate his or her policy on attendance. Some faculty members automatically reduce students’ grades for unexcused absences, while some do not; some count lateness as a half-absence, some do not. Given the participatory nature of Gallatin courses, however, we believe it is fair to have some rigorous expectations about attendance, since students who are not in class cannot take an active part in learning. In any case, a policy should be clearly stated in the syllabus, including the extent to which attendance will be a factor in the final grade.