A detailed syllabus helps both instructors and students. It communicates important information about a class--what it is about, why the course is important, how you will teach it, and what is required to complete the course successfully. The syllabus also helps set the tone for the course. As part of VSU's compliance with SACSCOC accreditation, all instructors must upload their syllabi each semester to APL nextED (https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/sacs/faculty-credentials.php).
All syllabi should contain the following information:
1. Course Information
- Course number, section, term, and year
- Course name
- Hours of credit
- Pre-requisites or co-requisites as listed in university catalog and why these pre-or co-requisites are important to success in the class
- If face-to-face, classroom location, room number, and time
- Department, College, University
2. Instructor Information
- Instructor name
- Instructor contact information: office (if applicable), phone, VSU email address
- Instructor office or online availability hours (follow departmental policy for the expected number of office hours per week)
3. Course Description
- Course description as printed in university catalog http://catalog.valdosta.edu/
- Required texts, resources, and materials. To submit your adoptions please log into your LMS. You will find a link within your LMS homepage or course page to access Follett Discover. Emphasize the importance of these required materials to success in the class.
- Required out-of-class activities (field trips, projects, service learning, etc.)
For field trip authorizations, Please complete the form.
- Course format: Describe how the course will be conducted--lectures, discussions, fieldwork, research projects, etc. If the course is a hybrid (components both online and face-to-face, describe what will occur online and what will occur in class). Whether online, hybrid, or face-to-face, describe required technology and what students will need to be able to use to be successful in the course.
4. Standards, Goals, Objectives, or Outcomes
- Institutional standards, goals, objectives, or outcomes: such as general education outcomes, departmental learning outcomes (listed in the university catalog), college-level standards, or professional organization standards
- Course objectives or outcomes: aligned with the institutional standards above and expressed as expectations of what students will be able to do by the end of the course to demonstrate evidence of their understanding or ability.
5. Assignments (explicitly aligned with the goals, objectives, or outcomes)
More detailed information for individual assignments may be provided separately but try to be as specific as you can about the following:
- general description of the assignments
- due dates
- policies for missed assignments, make-up assignments, late assignments, and/or extra credit
Recommended Syllabus Statement:
Make-Up Work: Make up work or alternative assignments will be determined by the professor and at the sole discretion of the professor. These assignments may or may not exactly duplicate the original and will not entitle other students to the same alternatives since they may not have experienced the same situations.
6. Assessment or Evaluation Policy
- explanation of how much each assignment contributes to the overall grade for the class
- explanation of how grades are assigned
- grading standards and grading scale
7. Schedule of Activities or Assignments
- Due dates for all activities but also include a statement that schedule is tentative and may be subject to change
- You may also want to provide an estimate of the student workload for the term, giving students a sense of how much preparation and work the course requires. You can use the work calculator tool at this website: http://cte.rice.edu/workload/
- The university-scheduled final exam time.
- A statement about the administration of online Student Opinion of Instruction (SOI):
Sample SOI Syllabus statement
At the end of the term, all students will be expected to complete an online Student Opinion of Instruction survey (SOI) that will be available through SmartEvals. Students will receive an email notification through their VSU email address when the SOI is available (generally at least one week before the end of the term). SOI responses are anonymous to instructors/administrators, and they will be able to access results only after they have submitted final grades. Before final grade submission, instructors will not be able to see any responses, but they can see the percentage of students who have or have not completed their SOIs. While instructors will not be able to see student names, an automated system will send a reminder email to those who have yet to complete their SOIs. Students who withdraw or drop a course will also be sent invitations to complete the Dropped Course Survey. Complete information about the SOIs, including how to access the survey, is available on the SOI Procedures webpage.
8. Classroom Policies
- Accommodations Statement (Required)
Instructors must provide a statement in the syllabus on how students should proceed in order to receive classroom accommodations because of a documented disability.
Students with disabilities who are experiencing barriers in this course may contact the Access Office for assistance in determining and implementing reasonable accommodations. The access Office is located in Farbar Hall. The phone numbers are 229-245-2498 (V), 229-375-5871. For more information, please visit VSU’s Access Office or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Title IX Statement (Required)
Instructors must provide the following Title IX statement:
Valdosta State University (VSU) is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment. VSU is dedicated to creating an environment where all campus community members feel valued, respected, and included. Valdosta State University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment and sexual violence), sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status, in the University's programs and activities as required by applicable laws and regulations such as Title IX. The individual designated with responsibility for coordination of compliance efforts and receipt of inquiries concerning nondiscrimination policies is the University's Title IX Coordinator: the Director of the Office of Social Equity, email@example.com, 1208 N. Patterson St., Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia 31698, 229-333-5463.
- Attendance, participation, and/or tardiness:
Instructors must clearly outline their absence/participation and tardiness expectations in their course syllabus, including any penalties for absence or non-participation and tardiness as well as any procedures for missed work (see recommended make-up work statement under #5). The syllabus should also include a statement that all students are responsible for knowing the specific attendance/participation requirements as prescribed by their instructors and for the satisfactory make-up of missed work. When students are compelled for any reason to be absent form or unable to participate in class, they should immediately contact the instructor. The undergraduate catalog states that a student, whether/ online or face-to-face, a student who misses or does not participate in more than 20% of the scheduled course or course activities could be subject to receiving a failing grade in the course. The full absence regulations are available in the online catalog at http://catalog.valdosta.edu/undergraduate/academic-affairs/
- Academic Integrity
Instructors should provide a statement explaining their expectations for academic integrity and detailing how incidents of cheating and plagiarism will be handled in the class, including specific penalties for cheating/plagiarism.
It is the instructor’s prerogative to apply an academic (grade) sanction. For a potential disciplinary sanction, an instructor may choose to submit an Academic Integrity Report (AIR) online to the Student Conduct Office. This report just remains on file; if a second report is filed on the same student, then that student may face disciplinary action through the Student Conduct Office.
Resources for Academic Integrity include the following:
The Academic Honesty page contains links and information about VSU’s Academic Honesty Policies and Procedures.
From VSU’s Academic Integrity Code (the full code is available at Academic Honesty Policies and Procedures): "Academic integrity is the responsibility of all VSU faculty and students. Faculty members should promote academic integrity by including clear instruction on the components of academic integrity and clearly defining the penalties for cheating and plagiarism in their course syllabi. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the Academic Integrity Policy as set forth in the Student Code of Conduct and the faculty members’ syllabi. All students are expected to do their own work and to uphold a high standard of academic ethics."
Turnitin, a plagiarism prevention tool, is available to all faculty through BlazeVIEW, VSU’s online course management system.
All faculty should include the following announcement in their syllabi: “By taking this course, you agree that all required course work may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin, a tool within BlazeVIEW. For more information on the use of Turnitin at VSU see Turnitin for Students.
- Classroom demeanor or conduct: Instructors should provide their expectations of students’ behavior in the classroom and/or in situations outside of class or in online environments (i.e., use of electronic devices, classroom courtesy, etc.). You may also choose to reference the Student Code of Conduct (available in the Student Handbook). If you would like to report a student conduct incident in your classroom or office, use the following reporting online form: Student Conduct Incident Report.
- Communication: Instructors should specify the appropriate channels for official class communication. All VSU-related correspondence should be conducted via VSU email addresses for both student and instructor. Grades should only be discussed within a password-protected environment such as BlazeVIEW.
9. Additional Information (At Instructor's Discretion)
- Expectations for competencies such as writing, technology skills, or performance
- Instructional philosophy
- Strategies used to support learning
The Academic Support Center (ASC) offers all VSU students free peer tutoring in core curriculum courses, including math, writing (any subject), chemistry, biology, foreign languages and more. Please bring your assignments, textbooks, and homework to tutoring sessions. Also available are free, one-hour seminars for help with study skills, time management, and a variety of other topics. Visit our office on the main campus, located in Odum Library, 2nd floor, or call 229-333-7570 for an appointment. We also offer 24/7 access to ThinkingStorm, a professional, online tutoring company. To make appointments for either VSU tutors or ThinkingStorm tutors, click the link “Free Tutoring” in Blazeview (under “resources” or “more.”).
- Odum Library provides a variety of services to assist classroom instruction, including library instruction, course reserves, and interlibrary loan. Please see Library Faculty Services for further information.
- Student Success Portal: The Student Success Portal provides an interactive dashboard, student profiles and messaging tools for faculty, advisors and student support staff to easily assess student performance and risk indicators that may contribute to or hinder students from being successful in their programs. It combines early alert flagging with predictive analytics to track and improve student performance. If faculty are planning to use this tool as part of the course, they may want to consider a syllabus statement such as the following:
VSU Success Portal
This resource is invisible to you, but you need to know about it all the same. Faculty are strongly encouraged to use this portal to report student problems related to attendance and performance. These "alerts" activate support services across campus, who then reach out to you to help you address problems. I will use this portal to alert these support services for students who aren't attending class regularly, aren't submitting work to BlazeVIEW regularly, or who earn less than a C on any paper assignment.
- Information about the Blazer Creed: At the First Year Student Convocation, all students sign the Blazer Creed. Instructors may wish to distribute the creed and discuss its application to their class.
- If faculty wish to include any information about HB 280 (“Campus Carry”), just provide a reference to the University System of Georgia website at http://www.usg.edu/hb280/additional_information. This page contains an overview of the policy and FAQs. You could also reference VSU’s page at http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/police/campuscarry/.
- The following statements have been prepared by VSU’s Counseling Center for those instructors who would like to direct their students to their services:
Brief Syllabus Statement: 61 words
The VSU community is committed to and cares about all students. If you or someone you know at VSU feels overwhelmed, hopeless, depressed, and/or is thinking about dying by suicide, supportive services are available and effective. For immediate help contact the University Police at 229-259-5555 who will contact appropriate resources for support. More information and local resources are located at http://www.valdosta.edu/student/student-services/counseling-center/.
Basic Mental Health Syllabus Statement: 101 words
As a student, you may experience a range of challenges that can interfere with learning, such as strained or violent relationships, death and loss, increased anxiety, substance use, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may diminish your academic performance and/or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. VSU services are available and treatment does work. You can learn more about confidential mental health services available on campus at: http://www.valdosta.edu/student/student-services/counseling-center/. 24 hour emergency help is also available through the University Police at 229-259-5555 who will contact on-call counselors or appropriate resources for support
Signs and Resources Syllabus Statement: 184 words
The VSU community is committed to and cares about all students. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health problems can help you or others to consider seeking care that can help. These are some signs that may be reason for concern:
1. Feeling hopelessness, worthlessness, depressed, angry or guilty
2. Withdrawal from friends, family and activities that used to be fun
3. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
4. Feeling tired or exhausted all of the time
5. Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering or making decisions
6. Restlessness, irritability, agitation or anxious movements or behaviors
7. Neglect of personal care
8. Reckless or impulsive behaviors (e.g., drinking or using drugs excessively or being unsafe in other ways)
9. Persistent physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain) that do not respond to routine treatment
10. Thoughts about death or suicide*
Treatment for mental health problems is effective. More information and resources are located at The Counseling Center website at: http://www.valdosta.edu/student/student-services/counseling-center/. 24 hour emergency help is also available through the University Police at 229-259-5555 who will contact on-call counselors or appropriate resources for support.
Personal Investment Syllabus Statement: 174 words
Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance. VSU provides mental health services to support the academic success of students. The Counseling Center offers free, confidential services to help you manage personal challenges.
In the event I suspect you need additional support, I will express my concerns and the reasons for them, and remind you of campus resources (e.g., Counseling Services, Dean of Students, etc.) that might be helpful to you. It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available. Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do -- for yourself and for those who care about you.
BIT Team Syllabus Statement: 115 words
If you, or someone you know, needs support, is distressed, or exhibits concerning behavior, help by making a referral to the BIT Team. The VSU BIT Team's purpose is to promote a safe and productive learning, living, and working environment by addressing the needs of students. As your professor, I may contact the BIT Team to seek support for you. I encourage you to fill out a referral if you or a classmate are in need of help. There are several ways to contact the BIT Team:
1) For more information about the BIT Team at http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/police/b.i.t.-behavioral-intervention-team.php;
2) Email your concern to firstname.lastname@example.org; or
3) Fill out the anonymous Concerning Behavior Reporting Form at https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?ValdostaStateUniv&layout_id=3
Additional reading about syllabus construction available at
Special Message Special Message for Spring 2020: Sample Syllabus Statement for Spring 2020 Online Student Resources
VSU cares about student success both on and offline, and a variety of resources are available to help students both academically and personally during the Spring 2020 semester.
One of the best resources is VSU’s Coronavirus FAQ page located at https://www.valdosta.edu/health-advisory/faq.php, Information is available there about internet access, academics, and services, among many other options, including how you can access the Brightspace Pulse app that will allow you to view BlazeVIEW on your smartphone (see https://www.d2l.com/products/pulse/). A website devoted to the health and wellness of VSU students can be seen at https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/campus-wellness/student-resources.php.
To help students get acclimated to online learning, the University System of Georgia created a quick guide for students to access online courses at https://sites.google.com/westga.edu/student-guide-online-learning/home. In BlazeVIEW, all VSU students have a course with guides for how to use tools in BlazeVIEW; search for “VSU BlazeVIEW Student Tutorial Spring 2020.”
Other resources will continue to be available as well. Students can still talk remotely with a librarian at VSU’s Odum Library and access library materials through the website at https://www.valdosta.edu/academics/library/. VSU’s Academic Support Center is also offering online tutoring, see instructions: https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/finance-admin/campus-wellness/documents/asc-online-tutoring-.pdf