The Syllabus Analysis Project involves being paired with a practicing professor, observing the way they teach, conducting an interview with them, and making notes on their syllabus. Professors, both as a group and as individuals, have a process, rationale, and mode of thinking that differs from that of students and non-academic individuals. I have some experience as an educational leader, but I have never had the same level of pedagogical control as a professor, and if I hope to construct my own course plan and syllabus for Fall 2020, I will need the firsthand, hands-on instruction from a professor-mentor. This year is about learning pedagogical theory and threshold concepts, and such learning would be incomplete without practical experience.
After analyzing the professor’s syllabus and interviewing him, I synthesized my analysis into a presentation which was shared with my peers. Next, my peers and I created a synthesized presentation from our synthesized presentations to encapsulate what we had learned from our individual professors and from each other’s presentations. As a group, we discussed the need to balance approachability and discipline, scaffolding, and the use of themes as a framing technique. As future instructors, we agreed on the need for flexibility on the part of professors and self-actualization on behalf of the students. We believe that if we want to engage students and promote learning, we need to promote the exploration of ideas and identities as well as engagement with personal interests. For many introductory composition and rhetoric professors, this exploration requires self-definition, usually in the form of a personal narrative.
This question serves multiple purposes both inside and outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, introductory exercises allow students to get to know each other and define themselves in terms of their peers. Outside of the classroom, it encourages students to think critically about their beliefs and interests and allows them to negotiate social and professional situations more carefully.
As a group, we came to understand that assignments conducted for a class need to matter. They need to matter to the grade, but more importantly, they need to matter to the students.