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Disclaimer in syllabus, a good or bad idea for instructor and students?

Course Queries Syllabus Queries
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Dilpreet Kaur

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( 5 months ago )

I have seen couple of syllabi that used a disclaimer similar to "Instructor reserves the right to change the syllabus at any time". For the instructor side, it could be good, but from students side it could be good or bad, depending on the change. Any other thoughts?

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Sarah Jones

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( 5 months ago )

Unless there is an unusually rigid set of controls and policies in the instructor's department, it is generally always the case that the instructor can change the syllabus on the fly. With any decent instructor, there is usually a good reason for doing so, such as incorporating an improvement the instructor has figured out partway through or adding extra emphasis on a section that people seem to be having trouble with. With a poor instructor, on the other hand, I don't think that the situation can be rescued by making the syllabus more rigid.

As such, my interpretation of the disclaimer is that it's simply a way to insulate the professor from complaints of students who take a rigid interpretation. From the students' side, I think it means little, only acknowledging a reality of instruction.

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