Students in a First-Year Writing Seminar

The FWS Syllabus: Info to Include

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Indispensable Reference

The FWS Syllabus: Info to Include


 

  • Your name. You may want to hint at what students are to call you—Dr., Ms., first name, Professor?
  • Department abbreviation, course number, section number, and seminar title.
  • Office hours; location of office.
  • Email address and hours during which you can or can’t be contacted.
  • Seminar description (the official one); and perhaps include a personal rationale for the course that explains your particular interests and the integration of writing with the study of the subject matter.
  • A learning outcomes statement. Follow this link for guidance.
  • Texts required (or optional). Course packet— available where? Handbook—a specific required one, or any approved handbook the student already owns?
  • Description of required writing. Kinds and quantities (drafts; revisions; journals), perhaps some opening insights and observations (the kind of writing done in your discipline?).
  • Guidelines for submission of written work. You might set up guidelines such as the following:
    • Word-process all written work.
    • Use standard font, in 12 point.
    • Double-space, using 1-inch margins.
    • Number your pages.
    • Staple or paper-clip your pages together. • At the top of the first page include your name, date, and essay number/title.
    • Proofread and spellcheck before bringing an drafts to class.
  • Requirement for conferences. Students taking First-Year Writing Seminars should meet at least twice in individual conferences with their instructors. Students need to be encouraged/required to meet with you and to take advantage of your office hours.
  • Policy on absences and lateness. Some instructors make clear to students that they are responsible for finding out from other students (not you) what happened in their absence—getting copies of materials and assignments, discussing work covered in class, and so on.
  • Grading policy. What elements enter into the final grade; what work is graded? Be very clear about how you are going to determine the final grade—and don’t change your system half way through the semester, or depend on verbal announcements about your policy as the course progresses. Some teachers find it convenient to work with percentages: e.g., 10% for participation (if you wish to factor in credit for this area, include written participation such as peer editing), 90% for the essays. If you intend to lower the final grade because of lateness to class, work submitted late, more than three unexcused absences, and so on, this is the place to make those penalties very clear.
  • The public domain. A statement indicating that all student writing for the course may be read and shared by all members of the class. (To avoid privacy conflicts and concerns.)
  • Calendar. An indication of the general pace and organization of the course. Many instructors hand out a 15-week overview of when papers and readings will probably be due. Intermittent, detailed 3–4 week day-by-day schedules may be distributed throughout the semester. Always hand out schedules at least a week in advance of when reading and writing assignments will be due. To find dates (and policy) for religious holidays, go to http://theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/the-new-faculty-handbook/6-policies-and-assistance/6-1-instruction/To determine the final “exam” date for your class go to https://registrar.cornell.edu/exams.
  • A statement on university policies and regulations. Example: “This instructor respects and upholds University policies and regulations pertaining to the observation of religious holidays; assistance available to the physically handicapped, visually and/or hearing impaired student; plagiarism; sexual harassment; and racial or ethnic discrimination. All students are advised to become familiar with the respective University regulations and are encouraged to bring any questions or concerns to the attention of the instructor.”
  • A statement for students with disabilities. Example (provided by the Office of Student Disability Services): “Note to students with disabilities: If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, provide the (Instructor, TA, Course Coordinator) with an accommodation notification letter from Student Disability Services. Students are expected to give two weeks’ notice of the need for accommodations. If you need immediate accommodations or physical access, please arrange to meet with (Instructor, TA, Course Coordinator) within the first two class meetings.”
  • A statement on academic integrity. Suggested example: "All the work you submit in this course must have been written for this course and not another and must originate with you in form and content with all contributory sources fully and specifically acknowledged. Carefully read Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity. The Code is contained in The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell, which is distributed to all new students during orientation. In addition to the Code, the Guide includes Acknowledging the Work of Others, Dealing with Online Sources, Working Collaboratively, a list of online resources, and tips to avoid cheating. You can view the Guide online at https://theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/academic-integrity/In this course, the normal penalty for a violation of the code is an 'F' for the term."
  • A statement of your policy on electronic devices in class. Instructors should use their own judgment here.
  • You may also want to add a statement like the following: "Collaborative work of the following kinds is authorized in this course: peer review and critique of students’ essays by one another and, when approved by the instructor in particular cases, collaborative projects by groups of students."