Required Syllabus Elements
According to policies established by the Committee on Curriculum and Instruction in the Arts & Sciences, all operational syllabi (syllabi distributed to students) must include a number of elements. For the complete list of what is required on your syllabus, visit the Syllabus Elements website. You can also visit the "Course Syllabus Recommendations" section of Undergraduate Education's Faculty and Staff Resources page for a number of sample syllabus statements.
Below, we have highlighted especially important topics, and provided additional information on certain topics that instructors may find helpful.
- A space for the instructor's contact information, including name, office location, phone, e-mail and office hours.
- A space for the name and contact information for the course coordinator, if the syllabus is standard for several sections.
- A space for meeting days, meeting times and the classroom location.
- A grading scale.
- Information about the scheduling of examinations and due dates for assignments.
- If your course is a GE course, it must include the following:
- The GE category or categories it fulfills (e.g. Cultures and Ideas)
- The "GE Expected Learning Outcomes" boilerplate language pertaining to the appropriate area(s)
- A statement beneath these that explains how the course will satisfy the stated Expected Learning Outcome
- Make sure that your syllabus has a clear class attendance policy statement regarding excused and unexcused absences, and that you apply it in a consistent way.
- Your absence policy can be tailored to fit each particular course, and should be one that you are comfortable with, but it must be in the syllabus in order to carry weight. Without a clear and consistently applied absence policy, a grade based on missed absences can be overturned.
- Note that it is important to keep accurate records of when a student is late or absent from class.
It happens on occasion that instructors must be absent from a scheduled class. When such absences can be anticipated (such as when you are traveling on university business), it is your responsibility to arrange in advance for a colleague to meet your class, carry out a lesson plan that you have prepared, and collect or return student work.
When it is more difficult to anticipate an absence (such as in the case of illness or injury), it is your responsibility to communicate effectively to students the message that class has been cancelled. In these cases, please take the following steps:
Contact your students via Carmen, Faculty Center in SIS or using an e-mail nickname file that you create at the beginning of the term.
If your class meets in Denney Hall, call the English department reception desk at 292-6065 or write email@example.com to request that a note be placed on your classroom door, preferably on department letterhead. Provide the course number, (for example, English 4567) class building, room number, and meeting start time for the class that has been cancelled.
If your class meets in a building other than Denney Hall, you may call classroom services also between 7:00am and 5:00pm at 247-4357 (4-HELP) to request that a note be placed on your door.
In all cases, contact your students as soon as possible following the cancellation to let them know how the syllabus and work deadlines will be affected.
Suggested wording for syllabus: "In the unlikely event of class cancellation due to emergency, I will contact you via e-mail and request that a note on be placed on the door. In addition, I will contact you as soon as possible following the cancellation to let you know what will be expected of you for our next class meeting."
The following statement needs to appear on every university syllabus, although faculty may add details of their own:
- "It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term ‘academic misconduct’ includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed, illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct.”
You might also mention, either in the syllabus directly or in your opening remarks, that plagiarism via the internet is not only dishonest, it's also liable to be caught. Paper assignments, if they are clear and course-specific, do not match well with what is available on the net, and search engines on the net make detection of plagiarism as easy as plagiarism itself. For more on university policies concerning plagiarism, including information on what to do when you suspect a case of plagiarism, see the OAA website for academic misconduct.
- In light of COVID, the Office of Undergraduate Education posted a disability statement with accommodations for COVID for Autumn 2020 on their Faculty and Staff Resources page:
- "The university strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. In light of the current pandemic, students seeking to request COVID-related accommodations may do so through the university's request process, managed by Student Life Disability Services. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers based on your disability (including mental health, chronic, or temporary medical conditions), please let me know immediately so that we can privately discuss options. To establish reasonable accommodations, I may request that you register with Student Life Disability Services. After registration, make arrangements with me as soon as possible to discuss your accommodations so that they may be implemented in a timely fashion. SLDS contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org; 614-292-3307; slds.osu.edu; 098 Baker Hall, 113 W. 12th Avenue."
General Teaching Resources:
- The Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning offers a number of workshops, communities of practice, professional development opportunities, and other means of support for instructors across the university.
Distance Learning Resources:
Instructors (including Faculty, Associated Faculty, and Graduate Students) should place their own textbook orders on-line. According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), deadlines for ordering textbooks are as follows (and will follow a similar pattern each academic year):
- Summer: April 1st
- Autumn: April 1st
- Spring: September 30th
In practice, if teaching assignments for individual instructors are not confirmed by the established deadlines, instructors should submit as soon as possible following receipt of a confirmed assignment. GTA exception: the main book order for Writing Analytically for sections of 1110.01 will be made by the Director of First Year Writing in one large order for sections taught by first year GTAs in their first term teaching only.
In light of the fact that UBX, SBX, Buckeye Books and College Town have closed, Barnes & Noble The Ohio State University Bookstore can have every book needed for your courses on shelves also when you need them. Textbooks are available in every format, i.e., new, used, rental, and eBook/digital. The on-line service, FacultyEnlight, is the preferred method for ordering textbooks through B&N. FacultyEnlight provides access to all required information the bookstore needs to fulfill orders conveniently in one location. It also stores individual faculty and book ordering information for quick and easy ordering in the future.
Assistance: Please direct textbook order questions and questions regarding desk copies to Brad Clucus, Textbook Manager at 247-2220.
Instructors using a course pack along with class texts should include a note on the official book order stating that in addition to class texts supplemental materials will be made available. The instructor should contact students directly via e-mail at the earliest opportunity to inform them of the availability of the course pack. Instructors using ONLY a course pack should submit the book order form indicating "no text," and contact students directly via e-mail as soon as possible to indicate availability through UniPrint or other provider of the instructor’s choosing. A "no text" entry will prevent the course from appearing on the bookstore’s list of non-responsive sections.
Once you have ordered your books, print a copy of your order and give it to the Front Desk Assistant in 421 Denney Hall to ensure the information is on file for students. If you prefer, you may email a copy of your order to email@example.com.
Student Evaluations of Instruction: online and discursive formats
Near the end of the semester, your students will submit two types of evaluation of your teaching. Both forms of feedback will become part of your dossier.
- There is an online, numeric Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) form that students can access on their own during the last couple of weeks of the term, but it is to your advantage to remind your students frequently to fill them out or to give them class time to complete the SEI on their laptops, tablets, or phones. If you give students class time to fill out the SEI, please leave the room while they do so. Students now fill out the SEI through Carmen, and you are now able to track real-time response rates so you can continue to encourage students to complete them when needed (or stop bugging them when they do!). You will receive emails each semester regarding SEIs for courses you are teaching.
- All instructors of English Department classes are required to administer discursive evaluations during class time. Sample discursive evaluations are included in the PDF linked below. If you are designing your own discursive evaluation form for a course that does not use a standard form (1110, 2367 have standard forms), please develop questions for your customized form that will truly elicit useful information about the strengths and weaknesses of the course design and your instruction.
Prior to the period at the end of the semester in which the students will fill out the discursive evaluations, you will receive in your mailbox in Denney 421 a campus mail envelope for each of your classes, clearly marked with the address of the person who will keep your discursives until after you’ve submitted final grades. When you administer the evaluation forms in class, please leave the classroom and give one student this pre-addressed envelope. The student should put the completed discursives in the envelope and take it immediately to the front desk assistant in Denney 421 if possible, or to a Campus Mail box if your classroom is far from Denney Hall.
- University policy allows students to add any class that has not reached its enrollment ceiling from a waiting list through the first week of the term, with or without the instructor’s permission. This means that a student may add your course on Friday of the first week, even though he or she will already have missed the first full week of instruction.
- An important implication of this policy, and the disenrollment policy (discussed below) is that instructors cannot count as absences any classes missed before the student registered for the course, nor assignments as late that were due before the student registered for the course (that is, possibly through the first full week of the term).
- Obviously this is not completely satisfactory, and you can certainly make it clear to students that they will be expected to complete all assignments for the course and meet all subsequent deadlines. But there are many legitimate reasons students may be closed out of courses and may need to add your course late. We need to be at least minimally accommodating and cannot refuse to admit them if they have added your course within the allowable time period.
- Rule 3335-8-33 of the Bylaws and Rules of the Board of Trustees specifies the conditions for an instructor disenrolling a student from a course. For a full description of these conditions, please read the text of the rule by visiting the Instructional Rules page and scrolling down to rule 33 on that page.
- Much of the rule linked above is predicated on attendance, but it is important to note that the rule also provides for disenrollment of a student based on disruptive behavior. The relevant paragraph reads: "After investigation, including consultation with the instructor and the student in question, and utilizing other university resources, as desirable, the chairperson (or other appropriate administrative official) may disenroll a student for a course if the student presents a clear and present threat of bodily harm or injury to the instructor or fellow students, or, after warning, continues to engage in disruptive conduct, either of which results in impairment of teaching or learning processes."
- If you believe such a situation exists in your classroom: Contact Director of Undergraduate Studies Karen Winstead (.2) or Director of Graduate Studies Aman Garcha (.2) immediately.
For the full text of the rule regarding incompletes, see Rule 3335-8-21(G) of the Bylaws and Rules of the Board of Trustees. (Navigate to the page linked above, and scroll down to section G of Rule 21.) Please note the following information about assigning a grade of "I":
- The grade indicates that the student has completed a major portion of the work in the course in a satisfactory manner, but for reasons judged by the instructor to be legitimate, a portion of the course requirements remains to be completed.
- The instructor must also record an alternate grade, representing the grade the student should receive if no further work is submitted.
- Revised grades are due by the end of the sixth week of the subsequent term. You can find the deadline for each semester by viewing the semester PDF under the "Important Dates" heading on the Registrar's Registration, Fees and Important Dates page.
For the full text of the rule regarding grade changes, see Rule 3335-8-23 of the Bylaws and Rules of the Board of Trustees. (Navigate to the page linked above, and scroll down to Rule 23.)
- Please note that a grade "is subject to change only when a procedural error has been discovered in evaluation or recording of a grade," and that "action to change a grade must be initiated before the end of the second succeeding term."
- All grade assignments, changes or extensions should be submitted through the Online Grade Assignment or Change Form workflow process. The Registrar has provided step-by-step instructions [pdf] for this form, which can be found under the "Faculty" tab on the Registrar's website.
Rule 3335-8-23.1 of the Bylaws and Rules of the Board of Trustees details how and how long materials submitted by students to fulfill course requirements must be retained. To sum up the pertinent points:
- Materials should be returned to students or made available for their inspection by the end of the semester, or, in the case of final projects, no later than the fourteenth day of instruction of the following semester, summer term, or session.
- If materials are not returned to students, they should be retained until the last day that a grade change may be initiated (i.e. the end of the second semester following the course).
Once materials have passed the required retention period, they may be carried to the department office for shredding.
For English department course offerings, see the Course Bulletin for AY 2020-21:
The Department of English takes seriously instances of academic misconduct on the part of its students and acts in accordance with University Faculty Rules governing cases of alleged dishonesty.
Your obligations as an instructor:
- Include in any course syllabus an "academic misconduct" statement
- Take steps to ensure students understand what types of behaviors may be considered violations of the University's Code of Student Conduct.
- Make sure students understand expectations in terms of citation, acceptable collaboration on assignments, etc.
- The Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM) has an extensive website with resources for students and faculty.
- Given the switch to online instruction in Spring 2020, COAM created a one-page resource with advice for supporting academic integrity in online courses [pdf].
- Ohio State has created "Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism" videos for instructor and student use.
- COAM's Faculty Obligation page includes a section of Frequently Asked Questions, which offers information on what students and instructors can do to prevent academic misconduct.
- Follow the steps outlined on COAM's Faculty Page.
- Remember--instructors are NOT authorized to impose penalties for academic misconduct. All suspected cases must go through COAM, and COAM alone is empowered to determine a suitable disciplinary sanction if a student is found to have committed academic misconduct.
Instructors who suspect a student is in violation of the Code should report their suspicions to the proper departmental authorities who can offer assistance specific to the circumstances of the allegations:
- for first- and second-year writing programs, to the Ombud, Debra Lowry;
- for all other undergraduate courses, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Karen Winstead;
- for graduate courses, to the Director of Graduate Studies, Amanpal Garcha.
COAM provides numerous resources to inform and assist instructors in helping students avoid suspicious behaviors which may lead to allegations and sanction. Visit the COAM site for additional details as well as helpful Committee responses to Frequently Asked Questions.
Other Administrative Information
As an instructor, you are bound by FERPA [pdf] to keep certain information confidential. A few important things to know about FERPA:
- While there are strict guidelines about confidentiality, there are certain department members with whom you can share information under FERPA. For instance, the Undergraduate Program Manager, Director of Undergraduate Studies and undergraduate advisors will often need to know information in order to assist you and our undergraduate students.
- You can access an online Ohio State FERPA training course by logging into BuckeyeLearn and searching "FERPA."