Friday, January 24, 2014

First day: Monotonous syllabus review. From the Fresno State Collegian.

I'm only here
for the campus latte.
What exactly is the purpose of the first two days of class?

There is, of course, the rare professor who begins instruction on those days (and is subsequently grumbled about under breaths and on social media), but the vast majority of professors read over syllabuses that are already self-explanatory and then let their classes out.

While this is, I suppose, a way to ease the transition back into classes and life spent outside the clutches of Netflix and warm sheets, it also seems an egregious waste of time.

The rest of the misery.


  1. I actually agree with this. Go over the basic points on the syllabus and teach on the first day. It does seem like a wasted day otherwise.

  2. From the article: "There seems to be a fairly simple solution to this problem. First, students and professors should both assume that we students are responsible adults capable of reading a straightforward document like a syllabus on our own time. If this is a responsibility students aren’t willing to take on, we should assume that we will accept the consequences in the form of our lackluster grades at semester’s end."

    We have here the makings of a future professor, who will become quickly disillusioned with her profession.

  3. How about "I agree not to parse the crucial points of the syllabus for you on the first day if I am allowed to deduct one percentage point of your course grade for every question you e-mail that is clearly answered therein"?

  4. I always start day 1 in all my courses with an assignment that was released on the LMS a week before the course began. And the deadline is imminent.

    - for more on this, Google "Isaac Newton, First Law of Motion"

    They have lots of time to work on it because my colleagues take a week or so to "get started".

    - for more on this, Google "Horror vacui (physics)".


  5. Oh, please. Day one I go over the syllabus of which I have put a copy into each student's hand AND posted on Blackboard. Day 2 I give an overall lecture about the course, let the class out a few minutes early and go over the syllabus again for students who missed the first class day. As they sign my attendance book they check off that they have received said syllabus.

    Day 16 questions arise as to the contents of said syllabus. Last day of classes I field angry questions from students who will not have earned their expected grades because they didn't know something that was on the syllabus.

    It's CYA.

  6. Oh for godsake. I teach the first day. Teach. I send them home with the syllabus, do a Q and A on the next day. Then I point out the clause that says "continued enrollment in this class indicates your understanding of and willingness to abide by the schedule and policies on this syllabus." I get them each to write down the contact info for 2 other students and say all questions about missed class work go to their peer resource. I tell them that an unanswered e-mail from me means it's on the syllabus. The end.

  7. I always enjoyed the going-over-the-syllabus day as a student. It gave a a reassuring sense of order and momentum. In retrospect, it's perhaps no surprise I became an academic. I like clear benchmarks.

    Frog and Toad, having them make peer buddies seems like a great idea. I always wonder if that's going to become outlawed at some point for violating safety concerns. How is it that under FERPA you can't confirm what students are in your class, even though all the other students obviously know?

  8. If Adminstration reversed their policy that students may add a class up to two weeks into the semester (without penalty), that might help.

  9. I do go over the syllabus the first class, but I also teach a full class, assign homework and don't let them out early. Unfortunately my experiences so far have proven that even graduate students are often unwilling to read a syllabus on their own and this approach cuts down on questions later in the term.

  10. I tell them if I let them out, then I'm stealing from them and making them pay me to go to Starbucks so I can post picture of my kids on Facebook and read blogs about how annoying they are.