Syllabus Preparation

Planning the Course (Spring 2021)

Be familiar with Important Syllabus Reminders posted by the Provost’s Office, including new COVID-related policies. This, and other important updates specific to Academic Year 2020-21 are collected on the Syllabus page in Blackboard organization “Mathematics department”.

When planning your course, you may want to consult old syllabi. The recent syllabi are posted on the public website of the department. The syllabi predating Spring 2018 are kept behind a login on an internal page. Note that older syllabi may have outdated required statements (disability, etc.) Things to keep in mind when building the schedule:

  1. The semester has no Spring break: The pace of the class will need to be adjusted accordingly.
  2. Early-semester progress report period is February 22 – February 26
  3. Academic/financial drop deadline is Monday, March 1
  4. Mid-semester progress report period is Thursday, April 1–
    Sunday, April 11
  5. Withdrawal deadline is Friday, April 30
  6. Last day of classes is Friday, May 14

Progress reports are submitted for all students in courses numbered below 500, so some evaluation of the students’ work should happen before the report period ends. Additionally, consult the Hendricks Chapel list of holy days (if it is not updated yet, try a similar list from WashU or another school) Scheduling an exam during a major holiday like Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah may result in a large number of excused absences under the University’s Religious Observances Policy.

Also for your reference:

Suggested Syllabus Format

  • Contact Information: name, office, email, and phone number of the course supervisor (for course-wide syllabi) or of the section instructor. For section-specific syllabi, include the office hours if known.
  • Course Description, Prerequisites and Restrictions from the Catalog
  • Textbook and any required supplementary materials such as a homework access code.
  • Course objectives: what will the students learn in this course? These should be more specific than the very brief description in the Course Catalog. Guideline: a mathematics professor from another university should be able to understand from the syllabus how our course compares to their courses. For section-specific syllabi, the class schedule can serve this purpose, if it lists topics and not just textbook section numbers.
  • Calculator Policy
    • MAT 117: TI-84 is required.
    • MAT 121/122: Any calculator with a square root key is adequate.
    • MAT 183: TI-84 or TI-83 is required.
    • MAT 193/194: TI-84 or TI-83 is required.
    • MAT 221/222: TI-84 or TI-83 is recommended.
    • MAT 284: TI-84 or TI-83 is required.
    • MAT 285/286: TI-84 or TI-83 is required.
    • MAT 295/296/397: MAT 295-296-397 students are expected to complete the calculus sequence without the use of a calculator. [Exceptions can be made subject to the decision of the course supervisor.]
  • Additional statement on calculators, if applicable:
    • On exams and quizzes where calculator use is permitted, any graphing calculator may be used, but calculators with a symbolic calculus capability, such as the TI-89 or TI-Nspire with CAS, are forbidden. All electronic devices other than the calculator should be turned off and put away during class. Calculators on cell phones are not to be used on tests or quizzes.
  • Course Supervisor Statement (for courses with a course supervisor):
    • Please inform your instructor of any problems that you have with this course. Problems not satisfactorily resolved with your instructor should be brought to the attention of the course supervisor without delay.
  • Homework and Quiz Policy (in case of a course-wide syllabus: to the extent that applies to the entire course)
  • Grading Policy (in case of a course-wide syllabus: to the extent that applies to the entire course)
  • Test Policy and Makeup Policy
  • Final Exam information:
    • The University administration expects a final exam to be scheduled, or at least that there will be contact with the students during the final exam period, in all courses including upper-level courses (600 and above too). Prominently display the final exam information on the syllabus. Final Exams are given Tuesday, May 18 – Friday, May 21. Final exams are not allowed during the last week of classes or on any of the Reading Days.
    • For courses numbered 100-399 and 485 (except 375 and UC sections), include the following statement. The final examination covers the entire course. It is a two-hour exam and will be given on Thursday, May 20, 2021, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The exact time of your final examination will be announced in lecture. 
    • For other courses, if the course number is under 600, list the final exam day and time as they appear on Registrar’s Final Exam Schedule.
    • There is more flexibility with final exams in 600+ courses: they can have take-home exams. These finals are not scheduled automatically: see Ms. Kelly Jarvi to schedule your final exam. The day/time indicated by Registrar’s Final Exam Schedule should be used to ensure there are no conflicts with other finals.
  • Attendance Policy
  • Class Schedule, if available.
  • Required Statements (see below).
  • Sources of out-of-class help, as applicable: Math Clinic / Calculus Help Center, CLASS group tutoring if it is offered for your course
  • Other general course information you wish to include. Some examples are in Learning Outcomes, Help, and Tips.

Required Statements

Stay Safe Pledge. Syracuse University’s Stay Safe Pledge reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on the well-being of our community members. This pledge defines norms for behavior that will promote community health and well-being. Classroom expectations include the following: wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times, maintaining a distance of six feet from others, and staying away from class if you feel unwell. Students who do not follow these norms will not be allowed to continue in face-to-face classes; repeated violations will be treated as violations of the Code of Student Conduct and may result in disciplinary action.

Students with disabilities.  Syracuse University values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation.  There may be aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion and full participation in this course.  I invite any student to meet with me to discuss strategies and/or accommodations (academic adjustments) that may be essential to your success and to collaborate with the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) in this process.

If you would like to discuss disability-accommodations or register with CDR, please visit their website at https://disabilityservices.syr.edu. Please call (315) 443-4498 or email disabilityservices@syr.edu for more detailed information.

CDR is responsible for coordinating disability-related academic accommodations and will work with the student to develop an access plan. Since academic accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact CDR as soon as possible to begin this process.

Academic Integrity: Syracuse University’s Academic Integrity Policy reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on honesty in academic work. The policy defines our expectations for academic honesty and holds students accountable for the integrity of all work they submit. Students should understand that it is their responsibility to learn about course-specific expectations, as well as about university-wide academic integrity expectations. The policy governs appropriate citation and use of sources, the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments, and the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verification of participation in class activities. The policy also prohibits students from submitting the same work in more than one class without receiving written authorization in advance from both instructors. Under the policy, students found in violation are subject to grade sanctions determined by the course instructor and non-grade sanctions determined by the School or College where the course is offered as described in the Violation and Sanction Classification Rubric. SU students are required to read an online summary of the University’s academic integrity expectations and provide an electronic signature agreeing to abide by them twice a year during pre-term check-in on MySlice.

[Insert here any course specific expectations consistent with the Academic Integrity Policy. Faculty and instructors wishing to exercise their option to levy grade sanctions up to and including course failure for any violation level should inform students of this intent by including a statement to this effect in their syllabus. Suggested language appears below.]

The Violation and Sanction Classification Rubric establishes recommended guidelines for the determination of grade penalties by faculty and instructors, while also giving them discretion to select the grade penalty they believe most suitable, including course failure, regardless of violation level. Any established violation in this course may result in course failure regardless of violation level. For more information and the complete policy, see http://class.syr.edu/academic-integrity/

Religious observances policy. Syracuse University’s Religious Observances Policy recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holy days according to their tradition. Under the policy, students are provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to a religious observance provided they notify their instructors no later than the end of the second week of classes. For fall and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through MySlice (Student Services -> Enrollment -> My Religious Observances) from the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.


Sources of required statements: Provost’s Office, Center for Disability Resources, Academic Integrity policy, Religious Observances Policy.
Additional statements, e.g., those on discrimination and harassment, are found on Provost’s website.

Web Accessibility

Syracuse University policy requires that “content acquired or created by the University on or after Jan. 1, 2018, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities”. See the ITS accessibility site for more. As a consequence, we will be unable to post noncompliant syllabi on the Department’s website. A few suggestions for creating accessible documents:

Both Word and TeX users

  1. Use black (or very dark) font on white background. Light colors lead to contrast issues.
  2. If you use tables, make sure that each table has a header row: a row that describes the content of each column. For example, a table of Numeric grade – Letter grade conversion could have columns labeled “Score” and “Grade”, or “Letter” and “Range”, etc.
  3. After saving the PDF file, open it in Adobe Acrobat Pro and run an accessibility check. This tool (Tools > Accessibility > Full Check) can correct many of the accessibility problems.
  4. Adobe Acrobat accessibility tool does not check contrast at present, but Blackboard does. To be sure that a file is accessible, upload it to Blackboard (for example, create a new item “Syllabus” and attach the file to it). A few seconds after the upload, refresh the page: a dial-shaped indicator will appear, which can be clicked to see the accessibility issues if any.

Word users

  1. Use the most current Word document format. If a document displays in “Compatibility Mode”, use Save As -> Word Document (.docx) to exit the compatibility mode.
  2. Use headings for section titles, instead of just making some text bold and centered. The first heading of a file (typically the title of the course) should be Heading 1. An easy way to achieve this is to format the title in any way you want, then select it, right-click “Heading 1” in the toolbar, and choose “Update Heading 1 to match selection”. If you use multiple heading levels, they need to be consecutive: for example, H1 H2 H3 H1 H1 is fine, but H1 H3 is not. For more, see How to add a heading.
  3. In each table, select the header row, right click, access Table Properties -> Row, and select the checkbox “repeat as header row”. This will allow the header row to be recognized as such.
  4. When saving the file as a PDF, use Save As (PDF), not Print (as PDF).

TeX users

  1. The PDF files produced from TeX are usually “untagged” but this can be corrected by processing the file with Adobe Acrobat Pro (Tools > Accessibility > Autotag Document).
  2. Autotagging may fail to identify the header row of a table as such. In this case you can edit tags using Tags panel of Acrobat: the first row of a table should have TH tags instead of TD tags.

Learning outcomes, Help, and Tips

These are generic learning outcomes for our courses. Specific courses may have more specific outcomes.

Learning outcomes

For all Math courses:

  • Students will be able to use and understand the usage of mathematical notation
  • Students will be able to select an appropriate mathematical model for a given real world problem
  • Students will be able to do hand calculations accurately and appropriately
  • Students will be able to do calculations with the aid of appropriate hardware and/or software

For all Math courses MAT 295 and above:

  • Students will understand the nature and role of deductive reasoning in mathematics
  • Students will be able to follow proofs and other mathematical discourse
  • Students will be able to write simple proofs in the major proof formats (direct, indirect, inductive), and, more generally, to engage in mathematical discourse
  • Students will be able to apprehend and enunciate the limitations of conclusions drawn from mathematical models

For all Math majors:

  • Students will have a basic knowledge of the contributions and significance of important historical figures in mathematics
  • Students will have a basic knowledge of the major modern theories of analysis, abstract algebra, geometry, and applied mathematics
  • Students will be able to effectively use mathematical word processing software
  • Students will have a basic understanding of career options available to mathematics majors
  • Students will be able to locate and use sources and tools that aid mathematical scholarship

Getting help

Your instructor and recitation instructor will be holding regular office hours and will make appointments with students having class conflicts with their scheduled office hours. In addition, the Mathematics Department offers regular math clinics. These will be set up by the second week of the semester and a schedule of the clinics will be posted outside the math office and on the department’s website.

Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) also offers Free Group Tutoring Sessions for certain math courses. For details, see their website https://class.syr.edu

How to succeed

Here are a few basic suggestions for how to succeed in this course.

  1. It is absolutely essential that you understand how to solve the assigned homework problems and, more importantly, how and why the skills and techniques presented in the course are used in solving the assign problems. Quiz and exam questions will be similar to these problems.
  2. Ask questions in lecture, recitation and/or at the clinic about anything that is not completely clear. Don’t hesitate to bring questions to your instructors during office hours.
  3. Every day, read and study the sections in the textbook covered in the lecture. Learning mathematics takes time! Read carefully and work through all the examples in complete detail. It can be helpful to try to work through an example on your own before reading the solution.
  4. Stay caught up. Mathematical concepts build on each other cumulatively and you need to stay on top of the material at every stage. If you are having difficulty, don’t expect that the problem will take care of itself and disappear later. Contact your course instructor or your recitation instructor immediately and discuss the problem!
  5. Form a study group. Many students benefit from a study group to work through challenging problems and to review for exams. You should attempt the problems ahead of time by yourself and then work through any difficulties with your study partners. Explaining your reasoning to another student can help to clarify your own understanding.
  6. You should expect to work hard. Don’t get discouraged if you find some of the material very difficult. Be persistent and patient! If you follow the above suggestions, your experience in this course will be a rewarding one.