Syllabus statements are integrated into Canvas

In an effort to assure consistent syllabus messaging across campus and save instructors time, staff in the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) worked with its vendor this summer to introduce a new feature in Canvas called syllabus statements.

Much like the ISU course template, the feature supports instructors and aids in content organization and design.

Iowa State's required and recommended syllabus statements are now organized in one place within Canvas courses, which helps communicate a consistent message about the institutional policies, processes and resources to students. Faculty are able to add their own course-specific statements.

Need help?

Instructors who have questions about the syllabus statements in Canvas can email CELT. Instructors who need technical assistance with syllabus statements can use the built-in form that populates when clicking on the question mark that appears in the upper right-hand corner in the editing mode. They also can visit CELT's webpage about syllabus statements in Canvas for step-by-step instructions.

CELT director and Morrill Professor Sara Marcketti sees it as a way for instructors  and students to focus on their content.

"The syllabus statements on the course navigation, as well as the use of the ISU course template, helps provide consistency for students and allows instructors time to work on their course-specific objective, policies and procedures,” Marcketti said.

With the state Board of Regents’ directive last fall to publish the Freedom of Expression policy and associated university policies in a prominent place and the start of a new academic year, it was "the perfect time to integrate the required and recommended statements more completely within the Canvas environment," Marcketti said.

The Committee on the Advancement of Student Technology for Learning Enhancement funded the implementation fee and the first year's product cost to have syllabus statements ready for fall.

The statements

ISU has one required syllabus statement regarding free expression that went into effect in November 2020. There are six other recommended statements that address:

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Accessibility statement
  • Contact information for academic issues
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Prep week
  • Religious accommodation

For the 2021-22 academic year, one more recommended statement encourages students to wear face masks, get vaccinated and promote physical distancing for unvaccinated individuals.

Ensuring the statements are on syllabi at the start of fall semester is necessary to meet requirements set by state Board of Regents.

In Canvas

CELT staff posted the syllabus statements in Canvas Aug. 16. They appear by default in all new course shells. If not visible or for syllabi built prior to Aug. 16, the option can be enabled from inside the course-specific settings.

The syllabus statements language is uniform for all courses. Instructors have the option to add course-specific or instructor-written statements below the required and recommended syllabus statements. This language can be printed by both instructors and students.

Instructors can reuse their added statements without having to retype them in each course.

"This allows instructors to direct students' attention to what is important, and make sure the syllabus statements are in a prominent place inside the course," said CELT instructional technology specialist Lesya Hassall.

Instructors can see how many students enrolled in their course have viewed the syllabus statements through a status bar on the top of the page.