Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Nonsensical Syllabus

Rebecca Schuman of Slate deftly summarizes what's happened to the course syllabus.

Needless to say, this disease of absurdity has already been happening at Waterloo for some time. For example, here's part of a message I recently received concerning my fall Algorithms course:

"It is now mandated by Senate that each offering of a course must provide a course outline that will be archived (those for CS will be archived on Information that does not exist for the course, such as the names of the teaching assistants if there are none, may be omitted.

Course outlines should include the following basic elements: course number and title; class days, times, building, and room number; class instructor's name, office, contact information, office hours; TA's name, office, contact information, office hours (if applicable); course description; course objectives; required text and/or readings; general overview of the topics to be covered; expectations of the course, including requirements, deadlines, weight of requirements toward the final course grade; acceptable rules for group work; indication of how late submissions and missed assignments will be treated; indication of where students are to submit and pick up marked assignments; the institutional-required statements regarding "Academic Integrity", "Grievance", "Discipline", "Appeals", and the "Note for students with disabilities" (see for the text of these statements);

The outlines are to be distributed to students electronically or on paper by the end of the first week of classes; and are required to be filed with the appropriate administrative authority."


nwrickert said...

I've been working part time (semi-retired) for the last few years. Now I am fully retired and away from that nonsense.

For a syllabus, I made do with a short text file. I was required to submit the syllabus, and a text file was not acceptable. It had to be either an MS-OFFICE document or a PDF. So I just converted the short text file to a PDF (pulled up the web page in firefox on linux, and printed to a pdf file).

But then I was required to fill out a stupid form about how many hours of student activity went to x, y, z and w. I guess that makes me a proficient writer of creative fiction.

Unknown said...

Jeff, I have an answer to your post. It is longer than your "comment box" will accept. Please instruct me how to post it or send it to you. Thank you. Harvey Seidel, First Baptist Church of Thermopolis, WY Here is my email, if you will email me, I can send it to you via email.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Harvey Seidel:

I contacted you but I have not received any response yet.