Syllabus Toolkit

A syllabus is a document that we commonly use to communicate pertinent course information to our students and is often the first point of contact our students have with the course and with us. Creating a student-friendly syllabus can be the start of a positive experience in your course while increasing motivation and academic success.

Why Use a Student-Friendly Syllabus?

  • Communicate your enthusiasm and provide a warm welcome.
  • Emphasize a welcoming tone with positive, inclusive, and encouraging language.
  • Normalize challenges and communicate a culture of support.
  • Lay the foundation for community and belonging, and let students know that you are a partner in success.

Kent State Online Syllabus Toolkit

The Kent State Online Syllabus Toolkit provides you with tools for designing your syllabus and links to additional resources and examples that you can refer to when creating your course syllabus.  

  • Overview: KSO Syllabus Toolkit (3m 21s). This video provides an overview of the Kent State Online Syllabus Toolkit with strategies and resources to consider for drafting a student-friendly syllabus.
  • Syllabus Guide for Instructors (PDF). This guide will provide an overview of common syllabus components and provide examples of encouraging and welcoming language.
  • Syllabus Template (DOC). This downloadable template* includes placeholders for common syllabus components and can be used as the starting place for your course syllabus. Feel free to make the template your own, add or remove sections, and consider your course and department for specific information that might be included.
  • Syllabus Example (PDF). This is just one example of a syllabus that has been created in the KSO syllabus template with student-friendly language. 
  • Course Schedule Template (DOC). This customizable course schedule is often shared separately from the syllabus and provides a snapshot of course assessments and corresponding due dates. Students often save or print this document to help plan and prioritize their time throughout the semester.

*Please note that the syllabus template will be reviewed regularly for necessary updates to content, links, and University-approved syllabus statements and policies. To keep your document up-to-date, note the version number in the bottom right corner and track changes via the Syllabus Template Change Log.

Learn More!

Explore the following resources for additional tips, information, and research-based considerations for syllabus design.

  • Tips for Creating a More Inclusive Syllabus. This article from Fisher & Keenan (2020) explores the author’s experience of developing an inclusive syllabus and provides concrete recommendations based on their work.
  • Kent State University Approved Syllabus Statements. This page from the Center for Teaching and Learning includes a list of University-approved or suggested syllabus statements that you may consider including on your syllabus.
  • Syllabus Teaching Tool in a Flash. The syllabus is usually the first introduction students have to your course. This Teaching Tool provides you with tips to ensure that the syllabus is a document that can engage students in their learning.
  • College Transition Collaborative Syllabus Review Guide. This guide walks you through a process to evaluate the messages that are conveyed through course policies, design, and phrasing in your syllabus and to identify opportunities for designing your syllabus to promote equity in the student experience.
  • Module For Revising Your Syllabus. The Student Experience Project has created an online course module to help instructors create a growth mindset culture and convey that students belong in their courses through the syllabus and other conversations about course expectations that tend to occur on the first day of class. This toolkit provides tools and materials that campus leaders can use to engage instructors with the module and make changes to their courses that can improve student success.