The Syllabus as a Communication Document

Most reading this blog have stood on both sides of a syllabus–receiving countless syllabi as a student, and constructing one’s own, or soon to be constructing one’s own. The latest Communication Education (Volume 56, No. 1, January 2007) features some research on this topic from a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: The Syllabus as a Communication Document: Constructing and Presenting the Syllabus by Blair Thompson.

Abstract
This interpretive study explored the communicative strategies teachers employ when constructing and presenting course syllabi to overcome challenges teachers face surrounding the syllabus. Data included 13 classroom observations, 19 teacher interviews, and document analysis of the instructors’ syllabi. Communication strategies teachers used to welcome students, balance tensions when presenting the syllabus, and focus students’ attention during the presentation emerged. The findings offer teachers suggestions on how to present and construct the syllabus more effectively.

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