The syllabus is broken into 5 primary sections, each on a separate page web page.
The syllabus is, essentially, the contract between you (the student) and the instructor (as a representative of the university). Like all good contracts, the syllabus establishes a mutual goal—your successful mastery of the course material. It also defines responsibility of the parties involved. This means it not only tells you what you should do, it also tells you what the responsibilities of the instructor and the university are in relation to your participation in this course.
The syllabus is often used by other educational institutions, and sometimes by employers, to help determine what you have should have learned in this course.
You should always read the course syllabus as one of the first tasks you complete in a course. Fortunately, the General Guidelines are the same from course to course so you probably don’t need to read that section every course. We recommend you do review the General Guidelines from time to time and that you keep a printed copy available for reference.
Get to know a little about your instructor. This helps in a couple of ways. First, you may discover the instructor has a particular interest related to the topic you may want to capitalize on. For example, an accounting instructor with a background in forensic accounting might be a great person to talk to about the experience of working in that field to help you determine if that is the area of accounting you’d like to go into. Second, while many of the quizzes are graded by the computer system, your written assignments, discussions, projects, and some of your assessment pieces are graded by your instructor. Each instructor has their own style. Learn what is necessary to be successful in the course with the instructor.
This is a critical skill you will need in your future career as well. You will find supervisors have very different personalities and expectations. What one thinks of as excellent work may not meet the expectations of another. Work—in this case, homework—is not simply about a product you create, like a paper, but the relationships involved the creation and valuation of the product.
You also should be sure you understand how to reach your instructor. We do our best to help you have live resources available when you need them through the times instructors are available, our help line, our Student Success Center, and other resources. Yet the people you need to get help from are just that—people. They are not stuck inside the computer waiting for a student to ask for help. They have families, friends, outside interests, and so on, just like you do. Knowing when the best times to reach them are can really help you as you plan your own study schedule so you don’t find yourself stuck with a question and frustrated you can’t reach live help.
The Course Information page is critical to the course. Please don’t muddle through the course thinking you have it figured out just by going through each week in the routine you’re used to. Read the course description for a general idea of what you should be learning in the class. Then read the course and learning objectives so you can begin to understand how the course connects to your future career and the expectations you will have in your assignments.
You’ll also get a feel for what will be required in the course. Use that overview of the tasks and the expected time to plan out your study. You will be far more likely to succeed in the course if you work on tasks over the week rather than trying to cram everything big in at once.