First Impressions: Student and Faculty Feedback on Four Styles of Syllabi

Robin Lightner
University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash College

Ruth Benander
University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash College

Recommendations about syllabi design have emerged over the last two decades. From a Promising Syllabus, to a Graphic Syllabus, to a Student-Centered Syllabus, faculty are encouraged to purposefully set the tone with this document. Few studies examine students’ impressions of these documents. In order to do this, we created four types of syllabi with consistent course content. First, we presented a focus group with four different syllabus types and gathered their comments. Then, larger groups of students rated the syllabi to reflect their impressions of the documents, their instructor, and the upcoming course. Finally, a group of instructors indicated their preferences and reactions. Student ratings revealed a preference for warmth, clarity, and brevity. We discuss notable differences between student and instructor ratings and offer recommendations.

Copyright © 2019, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education