Syllabus Review by DEO (Undergraduate)

Owner
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Key Contacts 

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Academic Programs and Student Development. 

Applicability  

All instructors offering a course with their administrative home in CLAS. 

Policy Purpose & Description 

All members of the University of Iowa have a responsibility to students. Instructors must create a climate that encourages students’ learning, with a syllabus required for every organized course. A syllabus must be supplied for students on the first day of class. Syllabi may be handed out in class, included in a course packet, or posted on ICON.  

The DEO (Departmental Executive Officer) has final oversight of the undergraduate courses offered by the department or other unit and for ensuring that CLAS instructional policies and procedures are followed. 

Many of these policies and procedures were created to make sure undergraduate students are treated fairly and that they have adequate information to make excellent choices. Adherence to these policies and procedures helps the College to settle issues fairly and swiftly if student complaints should arise. 

Definitions  

Organized course: Courses that have meetings at a set day and time for a certain number of credit hours with more than one person attending. A syllabus is not needed for an independent study, a practicum, a research colloquium, or a similar educational experience that is not an “organized course.” 

Syllabus: The syllabus functions as both a contract between the instructor and the student and as a roadmap, helping students to plan for important due dates and exams. 

Procedure 

  • The DEO of a department or the director or coordinator of the unit must check syllabi for all required syllabi components while ensuring information is consistent with CLAS policy 

  • Areas of special concern are grades and grading; work amount; due dates; student behavior; statements concerning SDS accommodations; and information about the exams (such as when announced by the Registrar and ensuring that a final is held during Final Exam Week and not during the last week of classes). 

  • Syllabi must be checked in time for the instructor to make changes if required and before the semester or session begins 

  • Each syllabus must have these components:

    • The current semester and year.

    • The number and title of the course as listed on MyUI. Include all cross-listed numbers and the administrative home of the course. The instructors name, office address, office hours, phone number, email address, and DEO contact information. Teaching assistants must also supply the course supervisors name, office address, office hours, and directory information.

    • A minimum of three office hours per week (60 minutes x 3). State the days, times, location, and “by appointment” since the College requires instructors to be available for a reasonable amount of time by appointment. 

    • Some departments and instructors have renamed office hours as “drop-in hours” to encourage student attendance. Other welcoming names are also acceptable.

    • A brief course description with central topics covered. If the course is approved for a CLAS GE Core, this information must be included in the course description. 

    • A description of course learning goals or outcomes. If the course is approved for General Education, these learning outcomes must be incorporated into the syllabus, with a statement related to the GE status of the course.

    • Texts and other course materials and where they may be found, including the use of any electronic sites (such as ICON).

    • Grading procedures, including the role of plus/minus grading. If an instructor chooses to change the plus/minus system by not using the grade of A+ and/or D+ and/or D-, it is important to include this omission and its rationale on the syllabus. The College and UEPCC (Undergraduate Education Policy and Curriculum Committee) recommend that the A+ grade be used only to show rare and extraordinary academic achievement. Otherwise, grading is decided by instructors and by departments, with grading systems varying across disciplines. Some departments likewise have set internal policies and guidelines on this matter. The College does not require the use of a curve. The grade distribution guidelines provided by the College are not meant to forbid departmental policy related to grades.

    • Expectations for attendance, assignments, and examinations, including expectations for online participation. Be sure to review the CLAS student workload guidelines and these important attendance and absence policies. An instructors policy must align with the related UI and CLAS absence policies. Define participation grading and include grading standards for participation.

    • Definition of academic standards and grading, especially in terms of attendance, class participation, assignments, quizzes, and exams. Many students have an unclear understanding of what constitutes excellent work. The use of rubrics can be helpful in helping students to understand academic expectations. 

    • A short statement about the role of collaboration in the class. Specify if collaboration is allowed on assignments and, if so, your expectations for a student’s individual performance. If collaboration is not allowed or is considered academic misconduct, this should be emphasized. The student’s responsibility for understanding these boundaries and for asking for clarification should be stressed.

    • Dates and times of midterms or other exams or quizzes.

    • Due dates for readings and all assignments.

    • Information about resources for students. The Writing Center and Tutor Iowa are excellent examples of such resources. 

    • Every syllabus must also have important UI and CLAS policies and procedures found on the CLAS syllabus insert, which may be attached to the last page of the syllabus or may be included in the body of the syllabus. Many departments copy this insert and make it available to all instructors in the department. Faculty may also use their own variations of these statements in the syllabus if the same content is expressed and students are given references for online information.

    • Finally, the DEO must check to make sure that the final exam does not appear on the syllabus before the schedule is announced by the Registrar. In these cases, the instructor has often scheduled the final exam before the beginning of the Final Exam Week. No exams or quizzes of any kind may be given during the last week of a course, including for both on-campus or online courses.  (However, please note that this policy does not extend to labs even if the lab is graded and has components of a quiz associated with the lab experience. 

Forms  

Units are encouraged to use the CLAS syllabi insert to ensure all students have this vital information. See section 7 below. 

Units may also wish to standardize syllabi by using one template, following the model in section 7. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

How can the DEO check so many syllabi before classes begin? We have a big department that offers many courses. 

  • Prevention can solve many problems. Review the components of the syllabi with all faculty and have faculty share effective syllabi and policies that others can use. 

  • Departments can also decide on shared policies, such as grading or how to handle absences and make up exams, with all syllabi sharing that language. 

  • DEOs (departmental executive officers) should talk to instructors who continually ignore required syllabi policy.  

Related Information      

Revision History 
Spring 2020