• October 31, 2014
October 31, 2014, 3:45:45 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with your Chronicle username and password
News: For all you tweeters, follow The Chronicle on Twitter.
 
Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
Author Topic: Meanwhile, on Faculty Street  (Read 3348 times)
msparticularity
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 18,502

Assistant Professor cum bricoleur


« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 7:08:32 PM »

In Texas, faculty are required by law to post syllabi on the university's website. I don't see any problem with that, but I certainly see no problem with asking others for advice.  (That's what these Fora are for, right? Why shouldn't listservs also work?)

What has been interesting about this--in the states and institutions where it is practiced--is the effect it has had upon what is contained in the syllabus. Most of us who were affected would just produce a short-version syllabus containing only the mandated information (boilerplate stuff plus a list of assignments and weightings, grading policy, and key due dates)for posting then distribute the in-depth things we used to put in our syllabi via separate handouts (schedules and specific info for readings and activities, details on assignments, and so on).
Logged

"Once admit that the sole verifiable or fruitful object of knowledge is the particular set of changes that generate the object of study...and no intelligible question can be asked about what, by assumption, lies outside." John Dewey

"Be particular." Jill Conner Browne
flotsam
Member
***
Posts: 209


« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2012, 10:02:14 PM »

In Texas, faculty are required by law to post syllabi on the university's website. I don't see any problem with that, but I certainly see no problem with asking others for advice.  (That's what these Fora are for, right? Why shouldn't listservs also work?)

What has been interesting about this--in the states and institutions where it is practiced--is the effect it has had upon what is contained in the syllabus. Most of us who were affected would just produce a short-version syllabus containing only the mandated information (boilerplate stuff plus a list of assignments and weightings, grading policy, and key due dates)for posting then distribute the in-depth things we used to put in our syllabi via separate handouts (schedules and specific info for readings and activities, details on assignments, and so on).

Honestly, I had no idea syllabi were so sacrosanct. I have been posting mine to the state-mandated site in exactly the same form in which it is given to students.  (Indeed, my department already kept binders of current and old syllabi in the main office before, although contributions to the binder may have been voluntary.)  Although I do make an effort to compose my own syllabi -- with unique descriptions, assignments, course materials, etc. (in addition to the boilerplate that must appear in every syllabus) -- I never worried about copyright or anything like that.

As for the legislative aims, presumably to warn students and tuition-paying parents away from dangerous professors or courses, I whole-heartedly welcome it. Any student who is willing to research the professor's background and the course's past syllabi is already among the most scholarly and motivated ones I'm likely to see.
Logged
csguy
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,278

Computer Science faculty


« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 7:12:40 AM »

Perhaps this is field dependent?

My syllabi are pretty standard -- policies (cheaters will be executed), how I'll grade etc. It includes the text and any other readings  and a list of topics covered (usually Chapter 1, then Chapter 2 etc. but at least one course jumps all around the book). I've never had any problem with sharing them.

When I'm assigned a new course I usually start by looking for other people's syllabi for ideas. They are usually not hard to find. I wouldn't actually copy them though as that would be cheating.
Logged
mended_drum
Potnia theron and
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 9,477


« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 7:42:07 AM »



When I'm assigned a new course I usually start by looking for other people's syllabi for ideas. They are usually not hard to find. I wouldn't actually copy them though as that would be cheating.

My syllabi are on the web and easy to find, and so are those of many others in my field.  I keep specific assignments, etc, on a CMS, but the syllabus itself?  Nah.  Take what you like and adapt it as you see fit.  I'll probably change it around next time anyway.
Logged

"dr. mended_drum don't give a sh!t; she will chew me up like a cobra."
sagit
And... we're off!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,681


« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 8:02:07 AM »

Lamasse, while I agree that sharing knowledge is highly desirable, I would argue that there is a very significant difference between asking for syllabi specifically, and making a more general request for assistance, including topics people cover and any ideas and materials people are willing to share. The latter is, indeed, quite normal; we do it here all the time, and I see it on listservs in my various professional associations. Making a request for syllabi is a bit presumptuous, though; it comes across as "Do my work for me" for very good reason, given the degree of detail that resides in most syllabi.

I disagree.  I don't see asking for syllabi as presumptuous or as asking others to do your work.  Trying to teach from a syllabus that you didn't develop or highly adapt is likely to go poorly because you won't understand the intention behind the design.  I'm somewhat baffled as to why people are so protective of their syllabi (aside from the example of people within the department or university trying to "steal" someone else's course - that makes sense).  My syllabi have lists of readings, a page or two of descriptions of the assignments, goals for the course, and a bunch of university boiler plate.  I guess it just isn't anything that I wouldn't mind someone else seeing and using if they wanted.  It's not like it is something that would lose value to me professionally if I shared it.

I would be flattered if someone wanted to review a syllabi I had written. That would suggest they think I must know what I am doing when it comes to designing that particular kind of course.  I also think it is a good idea for faculty to share their reading lists (especially for graduate level courses) so that we can see if others have come up with better sets of readings for our grad students. 
Logged

I like to think of the student as a mischievous badger.
theblondeassassin
Rootin' Tootin' Invigilatin'
Member-Moderator
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 7,908


« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2012, 8:24:26 AM »

I don't mind sharing if people ask, and ours are posted on the VLE anyway so that anyone can look at them.

What does get my goat is people in my department who just take my syllabus (without asking) and replace my name with theirs, and then download my Powerpoints and do the same, ignoring the (c) TBA. (We don't get credit for course development, and these are highly personal takes on advanced material and sometimes new-to-the-world subjects, not "follow along with the textbook" syllabi, that few people could duplicate.) It's not like I've ever said no to anyone who did ask.

And yeah, I mean especially you, the people whom I follow in the classroom, and leave up copies of my overheads taken from my book, with your name on them and no mention of the book. And the person who didn't change typos or the "Any questions ask TBA@madeupplace.edu" so that I get questions this term about a course I last taught four years ago.

It's a local culture thing, though - colleagues in other departments are appalled at this kind of behaviour.
Logged

My hovercraft is full of eels, so I don't suppose snails in a fish tank is so very strange.
msparticularity
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 18,502

Assistant Professor cum bricoleur


« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2012, 11:04:05 AM »


(We don't get credit for course development, and these are highly personal takes on advanced material and sometimes new-to-the-world subjects, not "follow along with the textbook" syllabi, that few people could duplicate.)


Yes, this, precisely. My approach to teaching certain topics, and the way in which I weave readings from multiple authors together, is very definitely my intellectual property and not something I want to make possible for others to try to duplicate. For this reason, while I am happy to share my syllabus--which includes a list of the works and the broad objectives, along with a general description of the assignments and a whole lot of boilerplate--I do not share the detailed reading assignments with page numbers and guiding questions, nor the specific outline of the topics that will be addressed each week. These are subject to adjustment anyway, as things progress and I develop a sense of my students' interests and the gaps in their backgrounds.
Logged

"Once admit that the sole verifiable or fruitful object of knowledge is the particular set of changes that generate the object of study...and no intelligible question can be asked about what, by assumption, lies outside." John Dewey

"Be particular." Jill Conner Browne
southerntransplant
A man on a porcupine fence and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,105

No recess.


« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2012, 11:26:07 AM »

As for the legislative aims, presumably to warn students and tuition-paying parents away from dangerous professors or courses, I whole-heartedly welcome it. Any student who is willing to research the professor's background and the course's past syllabi is already among the most scholarly and motivated ones I'm likely to see.

That's not the aim. The aim is to make sure there's a paper trail between a faculty member and a course.
Logged

"...And on the other side of this wall is a whole 'nother studio that you'll never get to see...because, you know, fvck you guys."

Steve Albini, showing Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters around his studio
aysecik
Senior member
****
Posts: 250


« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2012, 11:29:53 AM »

Perhaps it's field dependent? I don't see what is so sacred about syllabi - my impression is that this person is trying to develop a course and is looking for some guidelines and examples. This information (especially things like integrating online aspects) is not really part of what you learn in grad school in most STEM field experiences I am familiar with - as in, I know no grad students associated with the 4 STEM disciplines I interact closely with who had any such training. Most of your time is spent in the lab (or other research activities like at your computer), and the teaching education and experience often comes only at your own effort. And to be honest, a syllabus can give you a guideline, but cannot really help you teach the class - I don't see how a syllabus would be much use for me beyond helping me figure out how to write a syllabus, what book I can use, and how much time I could potentially maybe expect to spend on some topics... But again, is this really field dependent?
Logged
sagit
And... we're off!
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 1,681


« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2012, 11:41:56 AM »

Perhaps it's field dependent? I don't see what is so sacred about syllabi - my impression is that this person is trying to develop a course and is looking for some guidelines and examples. This information (especially things like integrating online aspects) is not really part of what you learn in grad school in most STEM field experiences I am familiar with - as in, I know no grad students associated with the 4 STEM disciplines I interact closely with who had any such training. Most of your time is spent in the lab (or other research activities like at your computer), and the teaching education and experience often comes only at your own effort. And to be honest, a syllabus can give you a guideline, but cannot really help you teach the class - I don't see how a syllabus would be much use for me beyond helping me figure out how to write a syllabus, what book I can use, and how much time I could potentially maybe expect to spend on some topics... But again, is this really field dependent?

I agree with what you're saying here aysecik, especially the bolded part.  The course proposed is a particular specialty topic for grad students, not something that is "always" taught in any graduate program in that field everywhere so this faculty member may be trying to develop something new that she thinks is important for her masters students.  It is a good idea for a new faculty member (like the woman who sent that request to the list-serv - I got it as well and looked her up) to try to reach out to others in her field to broaden the scope of what she might have learned in graduate school.  One way to do that is to see what other people might be including in their syllabi.  This is an opportunity for people in her field to provide mentoring that she might not be getting in her own department.
Logged

I like to think of the student as a mischievous badger.
flotsam
Member
***
Posts: 209


« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2012, 8:59:06 PM »

As for the legislative aims, presumably to warn students and tuition-paying parents away from dangerous professors or courses, I whole-heartedly welcome it. Any student who is willing to research the professor's background and the course's past syllabi is already among the most scholarly and motivated ones I'm likely to see.

That's not the aim. The aim is to make sure there's a paper trail between a faculty member and a course.

OK, but why? What is the "trail" -- which, pre-electronic format, already existed for anyone to see in the paper copies -- supposed to reveal?
Logged
lamasse
New member
*
Posts: 45


« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2012, 12:41:14 AM »

It's good information for the Death Squads.
Logged
prof_twocents
Random Academic
Senior member
****
Posts: 607

Did I miss anything important?


« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2012, 9:11:55 AM »

My syllabi are freely available on the web, including individual class meetings and the topics we cover in those meetings. I don't see why people are so secretive about their syllabi and their courses. We are supposed to be educators, not just of 20 year olds, but of our colleagues as well. If a colleague at another university can learn something from my syllabus and make his/her course better as a result, then the students at that other university also benefit. I view that as a positive thing.
Logged
polly_mer
practice makes perfect
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 37,441

Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2012, 9:28:42 AM »

Quote
I am in the process of developing a syllabus for a graduate education course focusing on STEM and underrepresented groups. I would appreciate any suggestions in terms of literature, syllabi, and assignments that folks are willing to share if they have developed similar classes. If you have a syllabus that you don't mind sharing, could you please pass it along to me? This course will be a hybrid, meeting both in person and online.

Instead, I see somebody asking random people about relevant literature, learning activities and assessment methods they should have learned in grad school.

You learned about learning activities and assessment in grad school? Lucky you.


I'm with Leobloom that someone in the education department teaching graduate courses certainly should have learned how to do learning activities and assessment.  Engineering graduate students aren't taught such things as part of the standard curriculum, but what in the world is being taught in education if not how to do the education activities?

Asking for ideas on how to develop a non-standard course makes sense to me, but I would be wary of someone who is designing an advanced course with possibly little background in the desired areas.  I don't know the culture of that particular listserv, but I would have liked to have seen some acknowledgment of things that "must" be covered with requests for help filling in blanks or targeted activities for those areas.  I am also somewhat horrified by the idea that someone in education is going to teach a graduate class on STEM and underrepresented groups without narrowing that huge topic to something useful like "physical science and high school girls" or "middle school math and underrepresented groups".  That appears to me as though someone is jumping on a trendy bandwagon without the relevant background to do the topics justice.
Logged

I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
southerntransplant
A man on a porcupine fence and a
Distinguished Senior Member
*****
Posts: 11,105

No recess.


« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2012, 11:43:36 AM »

As for the legislative aims, presumably to warn students and tuition-paying parents away from dangerous professors or courses, I whole-heartedly welcome it. Any student who is willing to research the professor's background and the course's past syllabi is already among the most scholarly and motivated ones I'm likely to see.

That's not the aim. The aim is to make sure there's a paper trail between a faculty member and a course.

OK, but why? What is the "trail" -- which, pre-electronic format, already existed for anyone to see in the paper copies -- supposed to reveal?


It's supposed to reveal whether Johnny or Sally are being taught by these high-falutin' overpaid professors or by their grad students. There isn't anyone on our governing board who actually believes that faculty teach their classes at all. The syllabus is considered a pseudo-contract between the student and the faculty member, and its easy online access is meant to be a) the reassurance that the parents apparently require that the instructor of record is actually teaching the course and b) an instrument that can be used for grievance if this is determined to not be the case.
Logged

"...And on the other side of this wall is a whole 'nother studio that you'll never get to see...because, you know, fvck you guys."

Steve Albini, showing Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters around his studio
Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.