Creating an Effective Syllabus for a Math Course

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  • 0:00 What's So Special…
  • 0:26 How & Why Are Math…
  • 0:57 Effective Math Syllabus
  • 2:32 Tips & Tricks
  • 3:19 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Looking for ideas to create an effective math course syllabus? This lesson discusses the importance and uniqueness of math course syllabi and takes a look at components that should be included.

What's So Special About a Syllabus?

A syllabus is a big-picture map outlining the contents of an academic course. These documents increase in detail and sophistication at higher grade levels. The purpose of a syllabus is to inform students, and in many cases parents and administrators, what will happen throughout the course. The syllabus can also serve as a pacing guide and reminder of topics to cover for you as the teacher.

How and Why are Math Syllabi Unique?

Traditionally, math tends to be a concrete academic area of study. For example, students are expected to learn how to arrive at precise and consistent solutions to complex problems that we observe from nature, such as patterns of flower petals and tree growth rings. Students also use math to understand other natural phenomena, such as why a chicken egg can only grow to a maximum size. In this sense, math is highly detailed and confined to laws of nature. This is in contrast to, say, a literature course where multiple interpretations of a Shakespeare play may be equally recognized.

Effective Math Syllabus

So how do you create an effective math syllabus? There are a few specific areas that should be included to ensure your syllabus is detailed and an effective learning tool.

First, begin the syllabus with an introduction. This should be a detailed yet succinct description of the course as a whole. You might include a rationale for the course, such as explaining how the course connects with district and state requirements.

Next, state the class objectives. These statements indicate what students are expected to learn and accomplish. For example, your objectives might include learning the Pythagorean Theorem, using common formulae for calculating components of right triangles, and understanding how to convert degrees of a circle into radians.

A materials list is a straight-forward but necessary part of any effective course syllabus . Simply explain what text, multimedia, online, and technological materials students should be ready to obtain and use. For example, in many cases students may be required to purchase a specific kind of calculator.

Be sure to include course expectations. Although this is not specific to math syllabi, any effective syllabus should include clearly stated requirements for student behavior. For example, be on-time to class; respect others, and be prepared with required materials.

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