NEW! Designing a Motivational Syllabus

Are you ready to revise or create a syllabus that acts as a motivational tool for student learning?

Are you using the syllabus as a motivational tool? Do you consider your syllabus to be a document that encourages student engagement? The syllabus is perhaps one of our most important educational tools and yet most faculty have never received training on how to develop an effective syllabus.

In this course, you will explore current research about effective syllabi and how tone, visual tools, and length can motivate and engage students. Join us as we discover how simple but powerful changes can make a world of difference and set your students up for success. You will use a syllabus rubric based on theory and research, and be exposed to fresh ideas and strategies to design a revised syllabus that is sure to increase motivation and learning. 

Develop transparent, equity-minded practices while re-energizing your course roadmap.

NEW! Offered in Spring 2021

  • Offered fully online through Canvas
  • Two weeks in length
  • Facilitated with personalized feedback at every step
  • Asynchronous format
  • Approximately 20 hours to complete
  • Small cohort size

Participant Outcomes

In this course, you will:

  • Recognize the purpose and value of the syllabus
  • Integrate practical ideas and lessons from research studies on syllabus tone, language, content, and length
  • Identify the intersection of the syllabus and student motivation and the powerful role of the faculty member in creating and sustaining student motivation
  • Evaluate your syllabus using a syllabus rubric 
  • Revise or create a syllabus based on theory and research to provide a roadmap for student success


Develop a roadmap for your students while also re-energizing your teaching practice. By following this guided process for redesigning your syllabus, you will see the motivational potential of this document, develop transparent, equity-minded practices, and adopt simple but powerful practices that make a difference in your students success!


In this two-week course you will not only learn about the current theory and research behind an effective syllabus by viewing lessons from the authors, but you will apply the principles to your own syllabus. This is a facilitated course, with multiple opportunities for interaction and individual feedback from an experienced facilitator and from fellow colleagues.

The course is offered in an fully-online asynchronous format through the Canvas software. There are no real-time meetings required, however, it is NOT self-paced. Active participation and specific due dates keep the group working together and sharing constructive feedback and ideas at each step of the process.

Intended Audience

This course will be beneficial to college faculty and staff and anyone who develops syllabi or reviews and provides feedback about using the syllabus as a resource.

The Authors

Dr. Christine Harrington is Associate Professor and Co-Coordinator for the Ed.D. in Community College Leadership program at New Jersey City University. She has served as the Executive Director of the Center for Student Success at the New Jersey Council of County Colleges and a professor of psychology, student success coordinator, director of the Center for Enrichment of Learning and Teaching, and counselor at Middlesex County College. Christine is the 2016 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars award. She has authored several books and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Lehigh University.

Melissa Thomas works with college and universities to implement best practices in technology and learning assistance through her consulting work with Study Edge. She was previously a Lecturer for the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin for the TIP Scholars FYE program, adjunct FYE and academic recovery course instructor, Director of the Center for Student Learning at the College of Charleston, coordinator of an academic support program, and Past President of the College Reading and Learning Association. She has published several books and articles and holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the University of Texas at Austin.