In the fall of 2013, ASSU received a number of reports of instructors not returning the required percentage of the final mark back to their classes in time for the drop date. Due to our close relationship with the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), and specifically the Office of the Dean, we were able to have these particular instances addressed. However, our executive team discussed the possibility that there could be other instances of policy non-compliance occurring unbeknownst to us because of a lack of policy knowledge amongst our constituents.
Out of this concern grew the idea for a review of course syllabi from across the Faculty, as a means of acquiring solid data regarding policy compliance instead of relying on anecdotal evidence in our discussions and lobbying efforts with the Faculty. As the syllabus is essentially a “contract” for the requirements of a course and the primary source of course-related information, ASSU recognizes the importance of these documents to students.
Our team began collecting syllabi through our course unions, personal contacts and by donating our own syllabi to the cause. We must acknowledge the support of Course Union executives who actively participated in the collection process. We were able to compile 93 syllabi from across the Faculty, representing a vast majority of program indicators, series level and both fall and full year courses.
During the spring semester of 2014, members of the ASSU executive committee analyzed these syllabi for compliance with mandatory FAS policy, standard practice regarding non-essential elements of course syllabi, and for other relevant information. We appreciate the invaluable contributions of executives Charles Dalrymple-Fraser, Branden Rizzuto and Mohammad Ali Saeed, who completed a majority of the data analysis for this project.
The following report outlines the findings of our review. We also offer some recommendations aimed at improving policy compliance and the overall quality of syllabi for students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.