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Designing an Effective Syllabus

Resources to help faculty and staff design an effective syllabus to engage and motivate students


This research guide will help you design an effective and engaging syllabus for your students. 

On the left-hand side, there are pages devoted to specific sections of a syllabus (policies, evaluation, etc.), syllabus research and pedagogy articles, and recommended statements.

For Covid-19 and Online/Blended Learning Syllabus Resources templates and recommended language - please see the Covid-19 and Online/Blended Learning Syllabus Resources section. 

If you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact Claire Dinkelman (claire.dinkelman) the library liaison for the Center for Teaching and Learning. 

Covid-19 and Online/Blended Learning Syllabus Resources

Below are documents from Digital Learning and CTL regarding Covid-19 and online learning classes for fall 2020: 

  1. distance learning syllabus template 
  2. syllabus statements on Covid-19

The documents were drafted by CTL and Digital Learning in July 2020. For questions regarding these documents, please contact María Parés-Toral ( or Jen Maney ( 

For more resources - please see the Covid-19 and Online Learning Syllabus Resources section. 

Why "Design" Your Syllabus?

A syllabus can be much more than an outline of deadlines, course readings, and department and university policies. It can provide your students with a welcome to your course that shares with them your teaching philosophy, it can offer a roadmap for success in your course, and it can even model for them the epistemological concerns of your own discipline. 

A well-designed syllabus that is fully aligned with what learning looks like in your classroom can also help to save you a great deal of time by answering in advance the most frequent questions your students may have. As you’ll see from some of the examples and links in this LibGuide, a syllabus can also be highly readable and visually appealing document that will engage students and that they will refer back to regularly. 

Tips and Strategies for Effective Syllabi

  • Keep it simple - lengthy assignment descriptions do not need to appear in the syllabus. They can be uploaded separately in D2L. 
  • Use your limited real estate wisely - what appears on your syllabus sends a message of importance to students.
  • Check out the Statements and Resources for Students to see specific topics like accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and Title IX that you can include on your syllabus. 
  • Include definitions or context to academic terms and concepts for students who may be unfamiliar with them - for example, "office hours." Include language that would explain what office hours are and why they are encouraged to visit you

Incorporating Ignatian Values Into Your Syllabus

Resources About the Essentials