OFA offers a “no-judgment, just help” syllabus and assignment review and redesign service for all faculty–from adjuncts to specialists to tenure-stream and full professors–teaching in any discipline.
Writing a concise yet comprehensive syllabus for your course is one of the first steps you can take to optimize the learning experience for your students. A complete syllabus will alleviate confusion and preempt multiple questions. At its best, your syllabus serves as a “one-stop” guide to help your students navigate the semester, providing a snapshot of all the course components from communication practices to schedules to grading and any other policies you want your students to follow.
Similarly, writing clear assignments allows students to understand the task at hand more fully, increasing their chances for success. Interviews with students reveal that their interpretations of faculty assignments vary widely, in part due to their varying experiences with assignments. In addition, how assignments are written and explained impacts how successful students are at completing intended tasks.
What We Offer:
One of our Teaching Consultants will take your existing syllabus and update it to fit the needs of your course and to comply with the MSU syllabus template. You provide the content of the syllabus and the course’s schedule/calendar, and we make small edits and organize it to fit the template.
- Have a short consultation with a Teaching Consultant (TC) either by Zoom or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Syllabus redesign” in the subject line) to give our TC a clear understanding of your questions, concerns, or ideas about redesigning the syllabus. Please share your existing syllabus or draft syllabus before the consultation if possible.
- After the consultation, the TC will update your syllabus and share it with you via Canvas (typically within two working days) along with suggestions for adding missing content.
- You will be able to copy the revised syllabus to your existing Canvas course page and make edits and tweaks as needed.
If your concern is more urgent or you are in the early, brainstorming process of constructing your syllabus, drop in for a 30 minute appointment. Schedule an appointment here.
Option 1: Written Assignment Review and Revision
You can submit any assignment, from low to high stakes, brand new to seasoned. After submission, you will receive written feedback in two working days. We’ll offer commentary and suggest revisions, which you are welcome to use or not. You also have the option of signing up for a one-one-one consultation to discuss the feedback and brainstorm improvements.
When submitting your assignment, please also write up a note to clarify questions, concerns, or issues with the assignment. Consider the follow questions to help us best support you:
- Is this assignment new or have you used it in your courses before?
- If you have used the assignment before, how have students been struggling with it?
- How does the assignment fit into your course objectives?
- What do you want the TC reviewing the assignment to know before reading it?
- Do you have any particular questions or concerns about the assignment you want a TC to focus on specifically?
Submit your assignment by sending an email to email@example.com, and be sure to include in the Re, “Assignment review for [your name].”
After submission, you will receive written feedback in two working days. If it’s more urgent, drop in for a 30 minute appointment. Schedule an appointment here.
Option 2a: Consultation for Assignment Development
Through a one-on-one consultation, we will help you develop an idea into a written assignment. We will consult and brainstorm to help you design the assignment by:
- considering the course objectives
- clarifying the purpose
- creating the specific tasks
- setting the criteria
- writing the assignment in your course
Option 2b: Assignment as Active Learning Plan
Active learning is easy in theory but hard in practice. If you have a lecture, visiting speaker, film viewing, or other content element that you need help “making active,” we can help you create assignments that:
- prepare students to engage with the activity
- assess student learning from the activity
- apply student learning from the activity
We can also help you communicate and coordinate learning objectives with your content and an active learning component.
To schedule your consultation for assignment development or creating an active learning plan, go to OFA appointments and select an appointment. After you have scheduled your appointment, go ahead and send an email to the Teaching Consultant you have selected, providing the assignment and your notes on what you need advice on (see above questions).
Assignment review is based on design principles and practices discussed in Designing effective assignments.
For more discussion, see the recorded video, Making assignments work: Last-minute improvements for end-of-semester assignments (In University’s Panopto, for which a netID is required).