Blurred image of students "signing" the course syllabus.
Blurred image of students “signing” the course syllabus.

Did you read the syllabus?

Often the syllabus for courses is an exercise in formality of creating a document that we are required to make and ensure students are aware of its existence.  Very rarely do the students actually read the document until they find a motivation to go back and look at it.



I switched to an electronic only syllabus years ago to avoid printing so much paper. This year I decided something new and posted my syllabuses (we call them “Page One” at the Tecnológico de Monterrey) as Google documents (the blurred image in the post is an example). This helps in a few ways or at least I think it will since this is an experiment:

  1. I am training my students to submit written material as a google document so I can give feedback during their writing process. Using it myself for my shared documents makes sense.
  2. Documents usually have lives spanning days, weeks, months or more and go through edits. I want to show that to my students as well.
  3. I am able to request my students to “sign” the document to acknowledge that they have “read” the document at the beginning of the semester. Of course they could just sign it without reading (like many people do with real paper contracts) but perhaps this step will convince them to actually read some of the document.

How do you get students to read your syllabus?

Let me know if this interests you or if you have another process in place.


5 thoughts on “Sign My Syllabus

  1. Hi Ken, this is Victor Robledo-Rella from Campus Ciudad de Mexico and I think some of the posts in this cloud-space (comunidad educativa) have been very good. THANK YOU. Hopefully one would have the time to go through some of them…
    About the Syllabus, so far I just upload it to Bb and ask them to review it. If they do not, I think it is somehow beyond my responsibility… Anyway, I review with them the first class the important parts (goals, content, dates, references, grade weight, etc.). My email is [email protected]… Please send me your email… Cheers and the best for this 2014!…

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Victor, I’m honoured to be reaching my colleagues in other campuses via the blog here! We will definitely be in touch.

  2. Hi, I created a game I do in class where I ask questions that can be answered only by reading the syllabus. They don’t read it before they answer, so they have to read a lot more of it to find the answer…

    1. Thanks Robi, great idea! For myself this is not just about making the students “read the instructions” but part of making them want to be active in their education.

      1. Hi,
        Yes, I use games and active learning to make them want to read the syllabus and the material and participate. I just created a new game for one of my classes and we had a blast! I also hold them accountable for what is written in the syllabus, like no late work, and what is due then. Robi

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