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Help in Writing a Syllabus Addendum

January 9, 2013

This post was submitted by Dr. Janie Sigmon.

I was moved to post Dr. Sigmon’s experiences as she is a seasoned and well respected instructor at our college, yet she does not sit on her laurels. Instead, Dr. Sigmon models performance improvement by reviewing and evaluating her own processes.

Thank you, Janie!

Dr. Sigmon writes:

During this time of year when students aren’t back on campus yet, I try to catch up on professional development webinars that I didn’t have time for during the fall semester. One topic that caught my eye in one of the Cengage Learning eNewsletters was preparing a well-written syllabus. In fact, the day before, we had had a discussion in our Science Department meeting about how we can get adjunct faculty members to write good syllabi addenda. This particular topic was “Elements of a Well-Written Syllabus” written by Dr. Jennifer Hurd. Dr. Hurd provided a list of elements to include in a syllabus, which are listed below:

Essential parts of a syllabus should include:

  • Title of the course/course number
  • Location/time of the course
  • Name of the instructor/Office location/Office hours/Office phone/School e-mail
  • Required text/materials
  • Catalog description of course/prerequisites (if any)
  • Course objectives/learning outcomes
  • Attendance policy
  • Late work policy
  • Students with disability statement
  • Grading scale
  • Assignments with points possible or % grade weight
  • Calendar of assignments with due dates
  • Message from instructor
  • Disclaimer stating that this is a plan for the semester that might change as class needs develop
  • Special concerns according to the course1

I took these elements back to my BIO 225 syllabus and checked to see what needed to be modified. There were a few items that I decided to add or change, such as the addition of location and times of the course classes and labs. Since I allow students to make up labs during other lab times, this is a good place to include this information for all the sections of a particular course. Also, I had never considered putting the course prerequisites on my syllabus addendum but decided this is a good place to reemphasize this information. Because a biology class has lecture and lab assignments, I decided to keep the calendar separate from the addendum as this would make the document cumbersome.

This was a good exercise for me to refresh my BIO 225 syllabus addendum. It gave me guidance about what I needed to include in the document and how to use it in class. The article was a good resource for me as a “seasoned” instructor, but would also be good for adjunct and new faculty members.

“Elements of a Well-Written Syllabus,” Jennifer Hurd, Ed.D., Dec. 3, 2012, Cengage Learning eNewsletter,

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Martha Benn Macdonald permalink
    January 9, 2013 4:29 pm

    Dr. Sigmon is awesome. She’s a wonderful friend and colleague. Thanks for sharing.

    Martha Benn Macdonald, Ph.D.



    York Technical College

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    Tel: 803.981.7341 | Fax: 803.981.7216


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  2. Susie Turner permalink
    January 9, 2013 5:12 pm

    Very helpful. Thanks Janie.

  3. sherlong permalink
    January 9, 2013 6:58 pm

    I would like to take htis chance to emphasize the importance of making sure that instructors actually point out – verbally – the disability statement. Even though the statement appears on every syllabi (or is supposed to!) I continue to be amazed at the number of students that end up in the Special Resources Office for probation counseling or other reason and say they didn’t even know we existed! Part of it could be that some with “hidden” issues like ADHD or learning disabilities don’t consider their deficit as a “disability.” We have a lot to offer in student support, so please let them know!

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