An important part of preparing for each semester is the course syllabus. That’s true for faculty, students and their parents.
Students (and often their parents) use course syllabi to make decisions about selecting classes and instructors. Students count on the syllabi to be an accurate reflection of the course — from what textbooks are required (versus recommended) to what the workload will be.
Faculty develop a syllabus to help in making a multitude of teaching and learning decisions — from deciding what the basis of the grade will be to planning out the course topics and reading assignments. More universities are setting expectations for what syllabi should contain.
The University of Florida provides guidelines for the information that needs to be included in syllabi — academic honesty policy, accommodations for students with disabilities, etc. These guidelines can be very helpful, as most faculty are so focused on the course content that they don’t think about some of these important issues that affect students.
Another expectation for the course syllabus is that it is posted online. UF has announced that we are to have our course syllabi posted online three days before the semester begins. That enables students to review syllabi online and make informed decisions. I think that’s a good policy. Of course, not every student is going to check for course information prior to the start of class, but most will.
Students will arrive at class with a better understanding of the course content and expectations. That helps the semester start more smoothly for everyone.