Syllabus statements are an important way for faculty to accomplish a number of useful goals at the outset of each course: Reduce the number of predictable questions from students, help establish students' expectations about the course at the outset, reduce students’ uncertainty (and increase their comfort level) about you and the course, generate more positive perceptions about who you are and how you will conduct the class, and convey your commitment to supporting them as individuals. These pages offer information about several categories of recommended syllabus statements, each offering examples and downloads of language that can be copied or revised for individual faculty use in course syllabi.
To use these resources:
- Review the various categories below. Each is linked to a page that provides a rationale and offers model language.
- Download the Syllabus Statement resource pages and select the model language that you prefer.
- Insert your selected language into your syllabi. The model language for each can be used as is (copied and pasted). Faculty can also modify the language as desired so that each reflects your authentic voice and perspectives.
- When you conduct your syllabus overview on Day 1, as required by Academic Senate resolution, call attention to the statements to highlight their importance. This can help to set the tone for a positive class culture by conveying your commitment to their integrity, to a culture of inclusion, and to their success as individuals.
While Cal Poly's response to the pandemic remains in operation, this multi-part statement provides detailed guidance to students about their responsibilities when on campus and interacting with instructors and classmates.
Accumulated research supports the importance of instructors conveying early, firmly and often how important maintaining academic integrity is for students, for the instructor, and for the university – otherwise they may assume “Everyone does it, so if I cheat it's just to keep it fair.”
Disability Support Resources
Cal Poly provides substantial support for students with various disabilities that can hinder equitable access to their education. A syllabus statement about these resources is important for those students who are working with the Disabilities Resource Center (and especially those who have declined the disability designation) to know that you support them and their rights to DRC's assistance and services.
Inclusion and Classroom Climate
Cal Poly is making progress improving the campus culture of inclusion, but more progress is needed. Developing a statement for your syllabus is an effective way to clarify, concretize, and share your values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in your discipline and in your classroom. Syllabus statements on inclusion can signal to students how the instructor commits to create the class culture and to conduct the course in inclusive ways.
Wellbeing/Mental Health Support
It has never more important for educators to incorporate wellbeing support language into their interactions with students. That was true even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down. To help our students to achieve the high levels of accomplishment that we set for them in our classes, our students need to know that you understand their lives. A syllabus statement can increase the likelihood that your students will feel less shame and less stigma about their emotional struggles and be more willing to seek out the help that they need and that they deserve.
Basic Needs Support
This may surprise you: According to California State University (CSU) data, 27% of Cal Poly students experience food insecurity and another 12% experience homelessness. These problems affect hundreds, even thousands, of students and the consequences can impact their physical and mental health and academic performance. A syllabus statement indicates that you acknowledge the reality that may affect some of your students, which can help to destigmatize it enough that they might be willing to reach out for the help that they deserve.
Pronouns and Preferred Names
Consistently using personal pronouns and preferred names contributes to creating a more inclusive campus culture. At Cal Poly everyone has the right to be addressed by the name and personal pronouns that correspond to their gender identity. Since March 2019, students, staff, and faculty have had the option to be listed in the Cal Poly directory under their preferred name. In addition, Cal Poly Canvas users are now able to indicate their personal pronouns in their user settings. Include a syllabus statement that lets students know how you will ensure that you use their pronouns and preferred names when referring to them.