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The Syllabus

Even more than in face-to-face courses, in online or hybrid courses the syllabus acts as a guide to content, activities, assessments, and general course operations. It must be thorough and detailed so students will know exactly what is expected of them. The syllabus parts are generally the same as what departments expect in face-to-face syllabi but with more detail. In addition to course operations, the syllabus communicates a lot about you, your expectations, and the course. So, consider the tone of your writing. Does it convey excitement about what you are about to teach? Does it ask students to participate and reflect on what happens in the course?

Online courses should meet GW school requirements. Generally, the syllabus includes:

  • Instructor Information
  • Course Welcome
  • Course Description
  • Text & Materials
  • Course Structure
  • Assessment & Grading
  • Course Calendar
  • University Policies

Text & Materials is a section that might be a bit confusing. In addition to the usual list of books and other resources, you need to consider whether students will need to acquire additional technology resources or skills to complete assignments online. For instance, do they need access to a scanner, a digital camera, or microphone?  

Assignments and the grading should also be made as clear as possible. A chart like the one below is suggested.

Assignment Type Points (per assignment)   Total % Final Grade
Discussion Posts & Responses 100 pts 5 20%
Project proposal 100 pts 1 5%
Case Studies 100 pts 4 20%
Survey Interview 100 pts 1 5%
Annotated Bibliography 100 pts 1 5%
Multimedia project 100 pts 1 25%
Research Paper 100 pts 1 20%
Total value 100%

Resource: View the Syllabus Rubric, a helpful tool to use when designing a syllabus.