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There is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing a syllabus. The structure of a course syllabus will differ depending on instructor, course topic, method of instruction, departmental policies and practices, and institutional guidelines. However, there are ways to structure a syllabus that are more effective than others.  We provide suggestions and recommendations in the syllabus toolkits.

SEP First Day Project Heading link

SEP Logo with orange box with the letter

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE) has partnered with the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and Academic Programs (VPUAAP) in an exciting opportunity supported by APLU called the Student Experience Project (SEP). The SEP is a collaborative of university leaders, faculty, researchers, and national education and improvement organizations committed to innovative, evidence-based practices that increase degree attainment by transforming the college student experience and creating equitable learning environments.

Nine UIC faculty members are currently participating in the SEP’s First Day Project, an effort focused on improving the messages that students receive through syllabi and the first day of class that support social belonging, growth mindset, and an equitable learning experience. The First Day Project is a national project that is one of the first of its kind and which has the potential to positively impact the student experience and the academic outcomes of thousands of students.

As a participant in the First Day Project, UIC is working with other institutions of higher education as part of the Peer Learning Network. The network is improving the messages and signals students receive on the first day of class to foster belonging, growth mindset and purpose.

Currently, CATE’s instructional design team is working to integrate the recommendations of the First Day Project into the new Syllabus Toolkit, which should be available on our website later this summer.