June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Computers in Education
13.1316.1 - 13.1316.11
Unisyllabus: A Tool to Manage Your Program’s Syllabi Abstract
The course syllabus is a tool for teaching and a kind of contract with the students and the accreditation bodies. Our experience with accreditations at the institutional or program level, by national, regional, and state accrediting bodies indicates that a common cause for findings/concerns by these agencies is the syllabus. Different accreditation agencies will require your program’s syllabi in different formats, making it critical to keep these diverse formats in synch with each other. Also important is that information on your syllabi and the school’s catalog and website is in synch. The syllabus could also support your ABET accreditation goals by being an ideal place to state the skills students are expected to acquire. These skills are phrased in terms of performance criteria for different outcomes allowing faculty to clearly identify what is expected from them in terms of outcomes assessment within a specific course. From the syllabi for the whole program one can extract lists of textbooks for the bookstore, or lists of bibliographic references for adquisition by the library, or the short course descriptions for the catalog. All these issues point to the need for a flexible tool to support the creation, editing, maintenance, review, and publication of a program’s syllabi in a uniform way.
Unisyllabus is a tool originally developed as a Capstone project which incorporates all the above features and some more. It is a web application which allows the capture of all the information contained in the syllabus formats used by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the Middle-States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS). The application uses secure, role-based access control for users, who are assigned a user-name, password and role, and allowed to log-in using a web browser. Roles include Viewer, Editor, and Publisher. The information captured in the process of editing a syllabus is stored in a relational database. A standard report writer is used to produce a syllabus for a particular course in the format required by a particular accrediting agency, and in specific document formats such as .doc or .pdf. Additional reports are defined and new ones can be easily introduced. Because a large part of the information required by the various accrediting agencies is common, this process is highly efficient. It reuses editable reference tables and avoids the confusion resulting from separately maintained documents. Other features are related to simplifying the assessment tasks by associating outcomes and their performance criteria to describe the skills that should be learned in the course. The application supports a practically unlimited number of departments, programs, course codes and syllabi, and new reports on the stored data can be easily introduced. Finally our experience with the use of Unisyllabus will be summarized.
Unisyllabus is a web application that grew out of a need for a way to handle all course syllabi in a uniform and flexible manner. When one considers the practical uses of the course syllabus one is confronted with a variety of alternative uses which are not readily met through reliance on a single document file. Perhaps the most insidious is identifying the latest valid version of the syllabus file, particularly if there are more than one professor teaching a particular course. In addition, documents such as your school’s catalog need to publish a short description of the course which should be kept in synch with that on the syllabus. The syllabus, as a kind of
Rodriguez-Jimenez, O., & Pacheco, C., & Reyes-Aviles, N., & Mercado, M. (2008, June), Unisyllabus: A Tool To Manage Your Program’s Syllabi Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4484
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