Preparing to Teach

9 Syllabus

A good syllabus that is thorough, yet concise can help reduce the amount of email that you and your TAs receive.  A quality syllabus helps your students find the information they need quickly.

Syllabus tips:

  • Use headings and subheadings to lead students to each topic.
    • This makes it easy for students to refer to the syllabus throughout the semester.
  • Convert large chunks of text to bullet points.
  • Bold and italicize words for emphasis so that the convention of underlines can be reserved for links.
  • Keep the syllabus as short as you can.
    • Yes, it needs to be thorough, but is there some information that could be provided as a link?
  • Be sure to check with your department/college for specific syllabus requirements.
  • UF Syllabus Policy
  • Office of Teaching Excellence: Syllabus Design

How do you get students to read the syllabus?

  • Create a short extra credit quiz on the syllabus.
  • Use the syllabus as part of a scavenger hunt game.
  • When students have questions that you have already answered in the syllabus, be sure to ask them what was unclear so that you can correct the document.

Student Support

Be sure to include information about tutoring support that is available to them.

The Teaching Center provides support in Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Writing and other topics.

The University of Florida Writing Program (UWP) offers face-to-face and online tutoring as well as video resources. The Writing Studio (through the UWP:   offers feedback sessions on essays; students can schedule two 30 min appointments weekly, with face-to-face time including business and evening hours, and an online option as well. Students are highly encouraged to make appointments since our times fill up quickly. The tutors here are mostly graduate teaching assistants trained in both humanities and science prose.

Include links to these services in your syllabus:

UF Religious Observances Policy

UF Administrative Memo from Joseph Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

January 7, 2020

Students and faculty must work together to allow students the opportunity to observe the holy days of his or her faith. A student needs to inform the faculty member of the religious observances of his or her faith that will conflict with class attendance, with tests or examinations, or with other class activities prior to the class or occurrence of that test or activity. The faculty member is then obligated to accommodate that particular student’s religious observances. Because our students represent a myriad of cultures and many faiths, the University of Florida is not able to assure that scheduled academic activities do not conflict with the holy days of all religious groups. We, therefore, rely on individual students to make their need for an excused absence known in advance of the scheduled activities.

View the UF Religious Holidays Policy

For University of Florida Students, the following guidelines apply: Students, upon prior notification of their instructors, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up the material or activities covered in their absence. Students shall not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances.

If a faculty member is informed or is aware that a significant number of students are likely to be absent from class because of a religious observance, the faculty member should not schedule a major exam or other academic event at that time. ​

A student who is to be excused from class for a religious observance is not required to provide a second party certification of the reason for the absence. Furthermore, a student who believes that he or she has been unreasonably denied an education benefit due to religious beliefs or practices may seek redress through the student grievance procedure.

Thank you for your cooperation with this policy.

Mobile Devices

If you plan to ban the use of smartphones or other devices in your class, be sure to include that information in your syllabus. But before you do that, consider whether devices can be used to enhance student participation. Classroom response systems or “clicker” apps ($), Kahoot!,Canvas quizzes (Free!), or Qualtrics surveys (Free!) can be used to gauge student understanding of lecture concepts.

Keep in mind that Two-Factor authentication is being mandated for access to university systems such as e-Learning (Canvas). If you will be using e-Learning, remember to allow smartphone use for authentication. Visit the UFIT Two-Factor information page.


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UF Instructor Guide by University of Florida is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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