This policy establishes principles that guide the design of effective learning information documents and:
Course - refers to an organized series of instructional and learning activities dealing with a subject. A course is created by a faculty member and/or academic program. The syllabus defines the course requirements and expectations. The mode of course delivery may vary and is determined by the faculty member and/or academic program.
Individualized Study - refers to a study created for and with a student in response to a student’s particular interests, goals, and learning needs. Individualized studies are notable for allowing the student to develop the study’s learning objectives/outcomes, learning activities, and the academic criteria for evaluating the work of the study. The mode of individualized study delivery may vary and is determined by the faculty member and student.
Individualized group seminar - refers to a study designed for a group of students sharing similar interests, goals and learning needs. Individualized group seminars are notable for allowing students to help plan the seminar’s learning objectives/outcomes, learning activities, and the academic criteria for evaluating the work of the seminar. The mode of individualized group seminar delivery may vary and is determined by the faculty member and students.
Learning Contract - refers to the learning information document that provides the specifics about what will be studied, how it will be studied, and how the student will be evaluated for individualized studies and individualized group seminars. The learning contract includes a detailed breakdown of learning activities, readings, assignments, due dates, expectations, method and criteria for evaluation, and related information. The learning contract is provided to the student about four weeks after the start date of the term.
Syllabus - refers to the learning information document that provides the specifics about what will be studied, how it will be studied, and how the student will be evaluated for a course. The syllabus includes a detailed outline of learning activities, readings, assignments, due dates, expectations, methods and criteria for evaluation, and related information. In academic programs (i.e. degrees and certificates) with discipline?specific accreditation requirements, such as MAT, MBA or Nursing, the syllabus may also include expectations from the appropriate accrediting body. The syllabus is provided to the student before the end of the first week of the term.
SUNY Empire State College is committed to the following principles:
The learning information document communicates an individual faculty member’s academic judgment regarding the particular texts, assignments, methods of evaluation, and content that are appropriate in order to address the learning outcomes. A well?designed learning information document lays the foundation for student success by clearly outlining expectations and methods/criteria for evaluation.
Depending on a student’s academic program and/or approved degree program, a student may have the option of enrolling in an individualized study, an individualized group seminar, or a course. Regardless of the mode of delivery, if a student is enrolled in an individualized study or an individualized group seminar, the learning information document is a learning contract and if a student is enrolled in a course, the learning information document is a syllabus.
Learning information documents contain the following elements:
While there are many similarities between learning contracts and syllabi, the following are important distinctions:
While created by faculty, learning information documents are reviewed to ensure currency in the field, consistency with new policies and guidelines, promote collaboration, and continue to enrich the learning experience of students. During development and revision, learning information documents will commonly benefit from peer review for alignment as well as clarity. The course information document is reviewed and approved according to college procedures for academic soundness and conformity with college policies, and then submitted according to college procedures. The review takes a variety of forms:
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education evaluates institutions in relation to 14 standards for accreditation. Standard 11 requires clear written statements of expected student learning outcomes in learning information documents. Standard 14 requires that an institution have an assessment process to evaluate and improve student learning in relation to expected learning outcomes.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Characteristics of Excellence: Eligibility Requirements and Standards for Accreditation. 2011 edition.