Desperately Seeking Syllabus: More than 60 percent of Fall 2009 classes have no syllabi online
A common gripe around pre-registration time and add/drop period is the scarcity of syllabi for Georgetown classes. Anecdotally, we all know the syllabus situation is pretty dire, but just how bad is it?
Well, Vox took a look at the Fall 2009 class schedule to see how the numbers break down, and it’s not good. Granted, classes don’t start for a few months, and the number of syllabi posted will probably (hopefully) increase a bit over the summer. But with pre-registration come and gone, it’s fair to say that this is (more or less) the level information students were presented with when we had to formulate our academic plans for the upcoming semester.
Here’s what we found:
- The vast majority of classes—917 of 1508 courses, or 60.8 percent—do not have any syllabus whatsoever. For 150 classes (9.9 percent of the classes offered for Fall 2009), the reason that there is no syllabus is that there is no professor assigned to the class yet.
- 433 classes (28.7 percent) have syllabi for past versions of the course online. While these old syllabi aren’t perfect since it’s hard to know how much the professor plans on updating the course, they at least give students some sense of what to expect from the class.
- For a 158 classes (10.5 percent), the professors have posted syllabi for Fall 2009.
The 2006-07 Intellectual Life Report noted that many students were dissatisfied with the availability and usefulness of syllabi, and called for “the dissemination of information about effective syllabus design and and assessment.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s been much progress in terms of giving students adequate information to make informed decisions about their academic futures.
A few notes about the numbers: I compiled the data by looking at all the undergraduate classes (anything with a course number under 500) that MyAccess shows for Fall 2009 except Senior Thesis seminars, labs, athletics classes and anything offered abroad (like at SFS-Q or the Villa). The numbers were found by going to the professor of each class’s faculty profile and seeing whether or not they had a syllabus for the course posted. The data was collected over the past three weeks or so.