Handbook: Guidelines for Creating Syllabi and Assignments

Guidelines for Creating Syllabi and Assignments

From DevLab



  • The word “average” withstands a lot of pressure. If, for example, your 1102 focuses on Victorian novels, you might ask students to read 400 pages in two weeks, followed by two reading-free weeks during which students create, workshop, and present WOVEN artifacts.
  • Failure to submit progress report or final grades by the stated deadlines risks the wrath of many high randing administrators. We take prompt grade reportingvery seriously. Don’t wait until the last day–submit grades early!

The Writing and Communication Program doesn’t dictate instructors’ assignments, but it does offer the following guidelines to use while you shape, weigh, and time the work you ask students to do:

  1. Lengths of “readings.” Because our courses are composition-intensive, reading should be kept to a reasonable level: no more than an average of 100 pages per week and significantly less if the reading is highly theoretical. Films and artifacts in other media also count as “readings,” so avoid requiring students to spend more time in an average week studying artifacts than they might spend studying 100 pages of print.
  2. “Lengths” of artifacts. Before the days of WOVEN, the Brittain Fellows’ Handbook stated the following:
    Each student should receive formal graded response from instructors for a minimum of 25 pages (250 words per page) during the semester. These should include at least four separately graded assignments … homework assignments, including electronic postings, should be counted toward the 25-page minimum.
    WOVEN assignments vary greatly. Though traditional research papers might be easy to measure by the 25-page rule, websites, videos, podcasts, and posters are not. As with lengths of “readings,” try to calculate “lengths” of artifacts in relation to time students might spend writing. Imagine the number of hours necessary for students to produce 25 pages of successful, revised writing. That’s about how long students should spend finishing all of your formally graded WOVEN assignments.
  3. Early/mid-term grade reporting. Students must receive at least one significant grade (20% of final grade) before the mid-term drop date. The drop dates for this year are October 12, 2012 (fall semester) and March 1, 2013 (spring).
  4. Progress report grades. Students in English 1101 and 1102 must also receive “progress report grades,” which indicate either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” performance, by September 28, 2012 (fall) and February 15, 2013 (spring). Students in LCC 3403 do not receive progress report grades. For more about progress reports, see the “Midterm Progress Reports” section of the chapter “Administrative Policies and Procedures.”
  5. Final grades. All instructors must submit final grades for all students by NOON December 17, 2012 (fall) and May 6, 2013 (spring).
  6. WPFE. The last week of scheduled classes is referred to as the “Week Preceding Final Exams,” also formerly known as “Dead Week,” and is designated as a study and review time for students. You should not assign any new work to be submitted during this week. In ENGL1101/1102, students can work on the WOVEN Portfolio, which is given in lieu of a final exam, as long as some work on the portfolio began before the WPFE. In LCC3403, if you are using a portfolio in lieu of a final exam, students can work on their portfolios, as long as some work on their portfolios began prior to the WPFE. If you are not using a portfolio, which is optional in LCC3403, you can use this week for end-of-semester conferences or to review for a final exam, if you choose to give one.
  7. Final exams. The Registrar schedules time periods for all instructors to give final exams. Many instructors prefer to assign final projects and/or presentations that require students to demonstrate their knowledge of course material in ways comparable to the demonstrations required by traditional exams. Instructors who use final projects in lieu of exams are not required to meet with their classes during exam periods, but for English 1101 and English 1102 (and in LCC3403, if applicable), you may want to use the scheduled final exam period to help students finish assembling their portfolios. Nothing but a final exam or a portfolio assigned in lieu of a final exam can be due during final exam week.
  8. Teaching technology. Devote a very small number of classes to teaching technology. When given specific assignments, Georgia Tech students are adept at mastering tools on their own or with the help of resources and staff in the Library’s Multimedia Studio. One or two class periods should be more than sufficient to introduce basic online tools (e.g., T-Square). If, however, the course includes more sophi sticated student projects (creating MOO spaces, for example), additional instruction in class may be necessary. You might also consider holding out-of-class (optional) workshops if necessary to supplement students’ hands-on knowledge of tools and technologies.
  9. Academic Integrity. To encourage academic integrity at Georgia Tech, LCC policy mandates us to: include the Honor Code on syllabi and deal with plagiarism consistently.
    Please review the chapter on “Administrative Policies and Procedures” as well as these links for information about violations of the GT Honor Code:
    http://www.honor.gatech.edu/faculty/syllabus checklist.html

Checklist for Syllabi


The image above is a copy of the syllabus checklist. A version of this table in Word is available on T-Square for inclusion in your course syllabus.


Policy Checklist


The image above is a copy of the policy sheet checklist. A version of this table in Word is available on T-Square for inclusion in your course syllabus.

Sample Syllabus Statements

The following statements are samples that you can use, but you may also use other similar statements that accomplish the same purpose.

Students have four absences to use for any reason. I do not require any permission note. After the given four absences, a student’s final course grade begins to be reduced 1/3 grade (A- to B+, for instance) for each additional absence. After four absences, there are no excused absences. So use your four absences wisely. You are responsible for information and materials you miss. You should obtain notes from classmates. While I will not repeat an entire class time for a student who misses, I will, however, discuss generally what we did in class and important points we covered.

If you are surfing the web, emailing, or talking on the phone during class time, you will be marked absent; cell phones must be turned off during class. Although sometimes unavoidable, arriving to class late is rude. Students habitually arriving to class late (more than four late arrivals) will begin to accrue absences, one absence for every two lates. In the same context, students are to remain for the entire class. Therefore, leaving the class early will count as a late arrival.

Regular attendance is required, and you should plan to be here for every session. More than three absences during the term will lower your final grade in the course one to three full letter grades. Six or more absences will automatically constitute a final course grade of “F”. (Being present means being in class a minimum of 40 minutes.)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
ACCOMMODATION: If you require accommodation to compensate for a disability, please speak with me outside of class so that we can identify an appropriate course of action.

If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please make arrangements to meet with me soon, preferably in the first week of the semester. Please request that an ADAPTS staff verify your disability and specify the accommodation you will need.

Georgia Tech complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Any student who may require an accommodation under such provisions should contact me as soon as possible and no later than the end of the first week of classes or as soon as you become aware. No retroactive accommodations will be provided in this class.

PARTICIPATION: This is a class in communication, so your participation is essential. Get involved. Volunteer. Question. Probe. Expect also to engage regularly in a variety of in-class activities and exercises—oral, visual, electronic, and written; individual and collaborative. Bring in at least one “extra” to share during the semester. Share relevant ideas and observations. Bring in copies of relevant clippings and articles. Offer your own experiences. Make connections between what we’re discussing in this class and what you hear elsewhere—for example, what’s going on in other classes, what you hear at conferences, what you hear in our colloquia, what guest speakers say, and so on.

Participation: I will evaluate your participation throughout the term. You are to participate actively in review and editing workshops: whenever a workshop is scheduled, you are to have assigned materials ready for the workshop. These materials are due at the beginning of class; a student without materials for a workshop receives a mark against participation on that date.

Discrimination and Harassment Georgia Tech does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status in the administration of admissions policies, educational policies, employment policies, or any other Institute-governed programs and activities. This class adheres to those guidelines. Alternative viewpoints are welcome in this classroom. However, statements that are deemed racist, sexist, classist, or otherwise discriminatory toward others in the class will not be tolerated.

No form of harassment or discrimination is allowed in this class. In keeping with the professional nature of this course, only professional behavior is acceptable between the instructor and the students and between students. No harassment of any kind is allowed in class including but not limited to gender, age, ability, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
You are responsible for knowing and abiding by GT’s policy for academic integrity. Consult the Honor Code online at http://www.honor.gatech.edu. The following text appears on the website:

Academic misconduct is any act that does or could improperly distort Student grades or other Student academic records. Such acts include but need not be limited to the following:

    • Possessing, using or exchanging improperly acquired written or verbal information in the preparation of any essay, laboratory report, examination, or other assignment included in an academic course;
    • Substitution for, or unauthorized collaboration with, a Student in the commission of academic requirements;
    • Submission of material that is wholly or substantially identical to that created or published by another person or person, without adequate credit notations indicating authorship (plagiarism);
    • False claims of performance or work that has been submitted by the claimant;
    • Alteration or insertion of any academic grade or rating so as to obtain unearned academic credit;
    • Deliberate falsification of a written or verbal statement of fact to a member of the Faculty so as to obtain unearned academic credit;
    • Forgery, alteration or misuse of any Institute document relating to the academic status of the Student.

While these acts constitute assured instances of academic misconduct, other acts of academic misconduct may be defined by the professor.” Work that violates the Honor Code will receive zero credit and may result in failure of the entire course. I will also report any serious misconduct to the Dean of Students.

Submission of Work Late work: All assignments are due in your class time (collected after roll is taken) on the given due dates. Work turned in late is docked ten percent for every calendar day it is late. Work turned in after class on the due date is considered one day late. If you will be absent on a day that written work is due, submit your work via a friend on the due date (by the beginning of class) or submit it earlier. See me if you believe you have truly extenuating circumstances. Note: print your documents before the due date. Printers, computers, and computer disks are notorious for failing just before an assignment is due. Therefore, a broken printer or disk that fails is not an “extenuating” circumstance; they do such things regularly. Keep multiple copies of all work!

Sample Student/Instructor Agreement


The image above is a copy of the student/instructor checklist. A version of this table in Word is available on T-Square for inclusion in your course syllabus.

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