Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Writing A Syllabus

Close up of old English dictionary page with word syllabus

Syllabus Writing Guide Introduction

The syllabus is a foundational document and a critical piece of communication between instructor and student that warrants thoughtful design. As the syllabus is often the first form of interaction that instructors have with their students, it plays a significant role in engaging students and motivating learning (Harnish et al. 2011). Research indicates that more engaging,  student-centered syllabi have a positive impact on student perceptions of a course and motivation to engage with the instructor (Ludy et. al, 2016).

This new syllabus writing guide will be updated throughout 2021 to support Yale instructors as they create syllabi. Ideas or feedback as we build out this resource? Please contact Beth Luoma, Assistant Director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives. 

As the first form of interaction betweeen students and instructor, the syllabus is a critical piece of communication that warrants thoughtful design. Research indicates that more engaging, student-centered syllabi have a positive impact on student perceptions of a course and motivation to engage with the instructor.
The Poorvu Center has developed a customizable, accessible, and fully optional syllabus template for Yale instructors in collaboration with the Yale Registrar's Office. This downloadable Word document includes syllabus fields commonly used at Yale, with direct links to writing guidance and course design resources. This template may be an especially helpful starting point for new faculty or new courses.
Yale instructors are increasingly using brief course introduction videos as a medium to introduce students to their course content, learning goals and teaching approaches. Many students find these videos useful while searching for courses during open enrollment. You may consider including a link to such a video on your syllabus and/or on your Canvas course site.
Office hours are an important part of students’ learning experience. Instructors can use the information on this page to plan and schedule office hours, and to communicate that information to students in the syllabus.
A diversity statement is a paragraph or section in institutional, department, or course language that welcomes the range of student identities, experiences, and perspectives, particularly those that have been traditionally marginalized. The diversity statement signals belief that all students belong, have value, and bring unique perspectives worthy of consideration.
Instructors are encouraged to include a statement on their syllabi that defines what academic integrity means for their particular course.
Yale courses are challenging, and instructors can encourage students to use all resources at their disposal to navigate their coursework. Below are brief descriptions and links to the resources Yale students engage with most frequently to improve their success in their courses.