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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) 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.

In fall 2022 and spring 2021, nine UIC faculty members participated 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. As a participant in the First Day Project, UIC worked with other institutions of higher education as part of the Peer Learning Network. This collaborative project resulted in the creation of a suite of free online resources, call the First Day Toolkit, which helps instructors in revising their syllabi and other messaging planned for the first day of class.

CATE has integrated the recommendations of the First Day Project into the Syllabus Templates and, at the beginning of each semester, also offers workshops on Creating an Inclusive Syllabus as part of our Teaching Tidbits Workshops.