Guest blogger: Brian Lamoureux, practitioner faculty in management, wrote this piece for the Business Education Innovation Center fall newsletter.
A syllabus — like any document — only has value if it is read. It loses all value if it is distributed and then filed away, never looked at again. I have recently encountered a troubling trend: Students would email me with questions whose answers were two mouse-clicks away in the syllabus resting in their inbox.
Upon reflection, I needed to find a better way to impart 7-9 pages of single-spaced content to them. Students consume information much differently these days. Their eyes alight with snaps, tweets, texts, and Instagrams. So, I decided to meet them where they were and revamped my entire syllabus by putting it into a newsletter format. Using a simple default template from Microsoft Word, I incorporated all of the necessary information while using white space and images to improve the readability of the document. Based on my non-scientific surveymonkey-ing, my students overwhelmingly appreciated the effort and prefer the newsletter-style syllabus over the traditional syllabus format.
For what it’s worth, here are some highlights from my survey:
- 80% were “pleased” to see an effort to change from the “standard” syllabus format.
- 20% were “neutral.”
- 32% thought the syllabus was better than “all other” syllabi they’ve had at PC.
- 60% thought it was better than “most other” syllabi.
- The other 8% said it was the same, and 0% said it was worse.
- 85% they wished other professors used this format (strongly agree/agree).
- 15% were neutral, and 0% disagreed.