Learner-centered syllabus toolkit

The experiences of teaching and learning during COVID-19 have expanded the range of options for course activities, modalities, and expectations. A syllabus is an important resource for communicating the choices that went into designing courses; this toolkit provides questions for reflection, suggestions, and sample language for writing syllabi at UBC Vancouver.

There is a syllabus policy at UBCV that provides basic requirements for what must be included in syllabi, as well as information about when and how changes to the syllabus can be made after the course begins. All syllabi must follow that policy; this toolkit provides further advice and suggestions for instructors to consider as they create syllabi that fit their own courses and contexts.

The advice provided here is largely grounded in a “learner-centered” framework: a learner-centered syllabus is one that focuses on what learners will do, and how the course supports them to learn and succeed, in addition to what instructors will do and the content they will teach.

A learner-centered syllabus will do the following:

  • Use a supporting, caring, and positive tone
  • Provide rationale for the course objectives, activities, and assignments
  • Communicate what learners need to do to succeed in the course
  • Emphasize how the course/instructor can facilitate academic success of learners
  • Foster a learning community, communicating that learning is a partnership between learners and instructor(s)

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