the learner-centered syllabus
Use the Center for Urban Education's Syllabus Review Guide, created by Estela Bensimon to help you design your syllabus for greater equity.
Briefly describe the subject of your course.
Explain the general format (in-person, online, hybrid). Include how you will deliver the course (synchronous, asynchronous, or a mix).
In this section, and in your entire syllabus, use learner-centered language that is simple, encouraging, and inviting.
Include a link to your Canvas course.
Provide your name and contact information. Consider adding a short bio that relates to your interest in and experience with the subject.
course learning outcomes
Clarify what students will learn by taking the course. What will they be able to do as a result of the coursework? How will their perspective of the subject, the world, and themselves change?
List 4-5 broad-based learning outcomes that reflect what the students will learn and skills they will develop by successfully completing the course.
This guide provides an overview of the concept of learning outcomes, from developing goals to using them in the classroom. It includes helpful sample learning outcomes as models.
List any required/expected prior knowledge, or coursework. Explain to students where and how they might be able to refresh their knowledge and understanding from a prior course, such as videos, worksheets, etc. that can support recall of that prior knowledge.
required materials, textbooks, & technology
List any required equipment, materials and/or textbooks. Include ISBNs and/or direct links to sources. Especially during remote instruction, consider accessibility of the course materials when choosing and preparing them.
Add instructor and/or TA, office hours, days and times. Explain how you would like students to contact you and any other pertinent details about your communication expectations. Some examples include your turn-around time when responding to student emails, and the times when you are available to answer emails (e.g., 8am-5pm, M-F).
ASSIGNMENTS & ASSESSMENT
List course assignments and/or exams and grade point values for individual items and/or categories.
Connect multiple means of assessment (exams, quizzes, exercises, projects, papers, etc.) directly to learning outcomes.
Explain clearly how students will be evaluated, and grades assigned. Include components of final grade, weights assigned to each component, grading on a curve or scale, etc.
Use both summative and formative assessment (e.g., oral presentations, group work, self-evaluation, peer evaluation).
Provide ways that students can easily calculate or find their grades at any point in the course.
Describe your late/missing assignment policy and your approximate turnaround time for returning major assignments. Consider requiring prior authorization for all late work.
In communication about course policies, positive (over punitive) and inviting (over commanding) language is shown to promote accessibility and student engagement. Read more about using accessible rhetoric and student-centered grading policies at the Accessible Syllabus website.
Describe how students will receive feedback from you and/or TAs or readers on their submitted work. If you use Speedgrader in Canvas, include the language below to inform students of where to view your comments.
I will provide direct comments and feedback on your assignments. Please click here to learn how to access my comments in Canvas. For major assignments, I will include a grading rubric that will be available to you prior to submitting your work. Please click here to learn how to access grading rubrics for assignments.
Describe the opportunities that students will have to provide feedback (formal or informal). If you solicit informal feedback include information about the purpose. For end-of-quarter Student Experience of Teaching surveys, explain their importance and impact such as by using the sample text below. Consider referring students to CITL's Guide to Giving Useful Feedback to Instructors and TAs.
At the end of the quarter you will be asked to complete a Student Experience of Teaching survey for this course. SETs provide an opportunity for you to give valuable feedback on your learning that is honest and constructive. This anonymous feedback will help me consider modifications to the course that will help future students learn more effectively.
Create a table that outlines readings, activities, and deliverables for each week of the course.
final exam information
Include any information that students need to know about the final exam in your course. If you use ProctorU for online exam proctoring, you are required to make a statement about it on your syllabus. Include a link to the Keep Learning website, which has more information about ProctorU (e.g., “This course uses ProctorU for online exam proctoring. Learn more about ProctorU at Keep Learning at UC Santa Cruz.”). Similarly, if there are other technological tools that will be required to take exams, include information about what they are.
All members of the UCSC community benefit from an environment of trust, honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility. You are expected to present your own work and acknowledge the work of others in order to preserve the integrity of scholarship.
Academic integrity includes:
Following exam rules
Using only permitted materials during an exam
Viewing exam materials only when permitted by your instructor
Keeping what you know about an exam to yourself
Incorporating proper citation of all sources of information
Submitting your own original work
Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Disclosing exam content during or after you have taken an exam
Accessing exam materials without permission
Copying/purchasing any material from another student, or from another source, that is submitted for grading as your own
Plagiarism, including use of Internet material without proper citation
Using cell phones or other electronics to obtain outside information during an exam without explicit permission from the instructor
Submitting your own work in one class that was completed for another class (self-plagiarism) without prior permission from the instructor.
Violations of the Academic Integrity policy can result in dismissal from the university and a permanent notation on a student’s transcript. For the full policy and disciplinary procedures on academic dishonesty, students and instructors should refer to the Academic Misconduct page at the Division of Undergraduate Education.
The materials in this course are the intellectual property of their creators. As a student, you have access to many of the materials in the course for the purpose of learning, engaging with your peers in the course, completing assignments, and so on. You have a moral and legal obligation to respect the rights of others by only using course materials for purposes associated with the course. For instance, you are not permitted to share, upload, stream, sell, republish, share the login information for, or otherwise disseminate any of the course materials, such as: video and audio files, assignment prompts, slides, notes, syllabus, simulations, datasets, discussion threads. Conversely, any materials created solely by you (for example, your videos, essays, images, audio files, annotations, notes) are your intellectual property and you may use them as you wish.
UC Santa Cruz is committed to creating an academic environment that supports its diverse student body. If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations to achieve equal access in this course, please submit your Accommodation Authorization Letter from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me privately during my office hours or by appointment, preferably within the first two weeks of the quarter. At this time, I would also like us to discuss ways we can ensure your full participation in the course. I encourage all students who may benefit from learning more about DRC services to contact the DRC by phone at 831-459-2089 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find further examples of accessibility and inclusivity statements in CITL's Sample Syllabus Language.
UC Santa Cruz welcomes diversity of religious beliefs and practices, recognizing the contributions differing experiences and viewpoints can bring to the community. There may be times when an academic requirement conflicts with religious observances and practices. If that happens, students may request the reasonable accommodation for religious practices. The instructor will review the situation in an effort to provide a reasonable accommodation without penalty. You should first discuss the conflict and your requested accommodation with your instructor early in the term. You or your instructor may also seek assistance from the Dean of Students office.
principles of community
Instructors may want to involve students in the preparation of principles of community for your course. This allows students to be partners in deciding what guidelines you will collectively follow to ensure free, open, and respectful discussions. A sample of such principles appears below:
The University of California, Santa Cruz expressly prohibits students from engaging in conduct constituting unlawful discrimination, harassment or bias (see more here). I am committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity and supports inclusivity. We need to work together to build this community of learning. I ask all members of this class to:
be open to and interested in the views of others
consider the possibility that your views may change over the course of the term
be aware that this course asks you to reconsider some “common sense” notions you may hold
honor the unique life experiences of your colleagues
appreciate the opportunity that we have to learn from each other
listen to each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner
keep confidential discussions that the community has of a personal (or professional) nature
ground your comments in the texts we are studying. Refer frequently to the texts and make them the focus of your questions, comments, and arguments. This is the single most effective way to ensure respectful discussion and to create a space where we are all learning together.
A land acknowledgement is a statement that recognizes the history and presence of Indigenous peoples and their enduring relationship to their traditional homelands. Land acknowledgements help create awareness of the cultural erasure of Indigenous peoples and the processes of colonization and subjugation that have contributed to that erasure.
The land acknowledgement used at UC Santa Cruz was developed in partnership with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum. Click here for more information about the use of land acknowledgements.
You may wish to to include the following land acknowledgment in your syllabus.
The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.
title ix / care advisory
The Title IX Office is committed to fostering a campus climate in which members of our community are protected from all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender-based harassment and discrimination. Title IX is a neutral office committed to safety, fairness, trauma-informed practices, and due process.
Title IX prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence, you can receive confidential support and advocacy at the Campus Advocacy Resources & Education (CARE) Office by calling (831) 502-2273. In addition, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can provide confidential, counseling support, (831) 459-2628. You can also report gender discrimination directly to the University’s Title IX Office, (831) 459-2462. Reports to law enforcement can be made to UCPD, (831) 459-2231 ext. 1. For emergencies call 911.
Consider including a content advisory if your course includes highly charged content. Content advisories give people the forewarning necessary for them to make use of the strategies that will decrease the harmfulness of encountering triggering material. They are not intended to censure instructors nor invite students to avoid material that challenges them. On the contrary, warning students of challenging material can help their engagement by giving them the ability to take charge of their own health and learning. Consider including a content advisory for content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms.
Sample Content Advisory Statement (General), adapted from educators at UC Santa Cruz:
Content Advisory: This course examines some texts, images, and videos that contain descriptions of violence and/or scenes depicting violence. I will do my best to provide individual warnings on the syllabus for course materials and in presentation slides for class content that are particularly sensitive. My hope is that these notifications will help your engagement by allowing you to prepare to work through challenging material. I encourage you to do what you need to care for yourself. If taking care of yourself means that you need to take a break during class, either for a short time or for the rest of the class, you may do so without academic penalty. If you do leave the class for a significant time, please make arrangements to get notes from another student or connect with me individually.
In addition to a general statement, educators may consider adding specific “tags” to specific course materials:
I’ve included tags for [X, Y, and Z] next to specific course materials on the syllabus. If you have concerns about encountering anything specific in the course material that I have not already tagged and would like me to provide warnings, please come see me or send me an email. I will do my best to flag any requested triggers for you in advance.
In our in-class and online discussions and dialogues, we will have the opportunity to explore challenging, high-stakes issues and increase our understanding of different perspectives. Our conversations may not always be easy. We sometimes will make mistakes in our speaking and our listening. Sometimes we will need patience or courage or imagination or any number of qualities in combination to engage our texts, our classmates, and our own ideas and experiences. We will always need respect for others. Thus, an important aim of our classroom interactions will be for us to increase our facility with difficult conversations that arise inside issues of social justice, politics, economics, morality, religion, and other issues where reasonable people often hold diverse perspectives. This effort will ultimately deepen our understanding and allow us to make the most of being in a community with people of many backgrounds, experiences, and positions.
Report an incident of hate or bias
Many students at UCSC face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Division of Student Success provides campus-wide coordination and leadership for student success programs and activities across departments, divisions, the colleges, and administrative units.
Tutoring and Learning Support
At Learning Support Services (LSS), undergraduate students build a strong foundation for success and cultivate a sense of belonging in our Community of Learners. LSS partners with faculty and staff to advance educational equity by designing inclusive learning environments in Modified Supplemental Instruction, Small Group Tutoring, and Writing Support. When students fully engage in our programs, they gain transformative experiences that empower them at the university and beyond.
College can be a challenging time for students and during times of stress it is not always easy to find the help you need. Slug Support can give help with everything from basic needs (housing, food, or financial insecurity) to getting the technology you need during remote instruction.
To get started with SLUG Support, please contact the Dean of Students Office at 831-459-4446 or you may send us an email at email@example.com.
The ITS Support Center is your single point of contact for all issues, problems or questions related to technology services and computing at UC Santa Cruz. To get technological help, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.