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In teaching, what do we actually mean when we say “syllabus completed”?

Course Queries Syllabus Queries

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User

( 4 months ago )


In my university, every faculty member has to submit a handout at the semester beginning for his(her) course. The handout is basically a list of topics (a syllabus) that needs to be taught to the (to be)registered students. The examination questions must also focus on the topics from the submitted handout.

At the end of the semester, many a time I have been a part of the informal discussions related to the topic "How much syllabus have we completed at the end?"

I do not only find this discussion illogical but also very strange. I believe that the completion of the syllabus depends on

  • The registered student group (their individual effort in the course, their own standard, capability, intelligence etc.)
  • The intention of the teacher (how much depth is (s)he reaching into during the teaching, assignments, projects etc.)

My university and administration often ask this question formally to the students (during their teaching feedback) as well as to the faculty members during the annual appraisal.

I have the following questions and I seek some advice on this aspect.

  • Does it make sense to just say that syllabus is completed in which students get almost nothing?
  • Is it not worth teaching some small amount but in an optimal way so that the students would get the true knowledge from the course and could apply whatever they learned?
  • What do we actually mean by the term "syllabus completed" -- Do we mean "students learned everything that we taught" or "we taught everything, but don't care about students learning"?

Inputs:

  • I am not considering the extreme classes of the students i.e. genius guys and the dull guys.
  • I discussed informally with one of the professors involved with teaching administration, but the discussion was inconclusive.

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User

( 4 months ago )

This sounds a lot like a "rantion". :) I'll try an answer, but most of what I writing is a truism.

Does it make sense to just say that syllabus is completed in which students get almost nothing?

There are two different questions: was everything that was on the syllabus covered in the class? and were the lectures helpful and sufficient to learn the required material?. Both should be asked to the students. They should not be mixed up.

Is it not worth teaching some small amount but in an optimal way so that the students would get the true knowledge from the course and could apply whatever they learned?

Clearly, there is a balance to be found between amount of material covered and depth/effectiveness of the lectures. For each course there are different reasonable balance points, and it's the job of a competent teacher to find one of them.

What do we actually mean by the term "syllabus completed" -- Do we mean "students learned everything that we taught" or "we taught everything, but don't care about students learning"?

The second. The first one is a separate question, equally important (see above).

what's your interest


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