How learning-focused is your course?

As we mentioned in Part 3, syllabi fall along a continuum, ranging from content-focused documents to learning-focused ones. To help you determine the degree to which your syllabus achieves a learning orientation and guide you in making further adjustments, we developed a rubric. The rubric, which is flexible enough to accommodate a diverse range of levels, disciplines, institutions, and learning environments, is organized around five major criteria: Learning Goals and Objectives, Assessment Activities, Learning Activities, Schedule, and Overall Learning Environment. The last criterion considers the tone, promise, and degree to which the document supports an inclusive and equitable learning environment. The five criteria are further subdivided into 16 distinct components. The rubric provides qualitative descriptions of these components that distinguish learning-focused syllabi and uses a quantitative scoring system that places syllabi on a continuum from content-focused to learning-focused. Using the full range of these components, syllabi score between 0 and 60 points. As a rough guide, content-focused syllabi might fall in the 0─18 range, transitional 19─40, and learning-focused 41─60.

To self-score your syllabus, read each component carefully as well as the suggestions for where you might find evidence. Then, determine the strength of evidence for each component.

  • Strong evidence indicates that many (but not necessarily all) of the characteristics of the component are present in the syllabus and match the descriptions closely.
  • Moderate evidence indicates that a few of the characteristics of the component are present in the syllabus and/or only partly match the descriptions.
  • Low evidence indicates that very few of the characteristics of the component are present in the syllabus and/or don’t match the descriptions.

Keep in mind that the essential components (gold) affect your score much more than important (silver) and less important ones (white). For areas where your syllabus doesn’t score as high as you like, the suggestions for what to look for should give you ideas for moving it further toward the learning-focused end of the continuum.

For more detailed information about the rubric, including the scoring system, check out the User Guide.


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