Developing your Syllabus

Whether you are developing your syllabus for the first time or are revising it in preparation for the start of the next term, take some time to implement strategies to make your syllabus more readable, accessible, and inclusive

Need assistance with developing your learning outcomes? This presentation on creating and mapping measurable learning outcomes from a recent webinar given by Karen Whelan-Berry is a great place to begin! 


Technology for Teaching and Learning

Your NetID and Password serve as your primary credentials at UMass Amherst, giving you access to all UMass services including SPIRE, email, the campus networks, and more.  SPIRE is used for managing most aspects of courses (class roster, schedules, email my whole class, grades).  For questions about your NetID or help with any UMass technology contact the IT Help Desk

As a faculty member you will have either Microsoft Outlook or Google Gmail as your email account. Regardless of the email platform you are using, you do have access to all of the Microsoft 365 applications including OneDrive, Teams, and Office 365. You also have access to Google Workspace including Google Slides, Google Drive, and Jamboard.

UMass has many other technologies available for faculty including ZoomiClickers, and Echo360. CNS faculty can request a Moodle course space to post syllabi and other course materials and to easily communicate with enrolled students.  


Campus Resources for Faculty

  • The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides consultations and resources for teaching faculty including guidance on how to create an inclusive syllabus
  • Library services available for faculty include both print and electronic course reserves, customized library workshops, and resources on copyright, plagiarism, and information fluency. Connect with your departmental Library Liaison to learn about the resources and expertise available in the libraries. 
  • The Instructional Design, Engagement and Support team (IDEAS) provides support for existing instructional technologies and can help you explore emerging instructional technologies and alternative course modalities including fully-online and flexible learning strategies.  
  • The Assistive Technology Center (ATC) offers faculty and students instruction, training, and support for assistive technology for teaching and learning. The ATC offers access to scanning equipment, optical character recognition software, document and screen reading software, voice recognition software, text enlargers, and other assistive technologies.  
  • Visit the Office of Disability Services Faculty Handbook to access the Accommodations Statement to include on your course syllabus and learn more about the accommodation process and common classroom accommodation requests.  

Support for CNS Lecturers

CNS acknowledges the many contributions of CNS lecturers and has created services and opportunities to enhance their professional success.


Supporting Students

This presentation from Brenda Barlow, Assistant Dean CNS, provides an excellent overview of different strategies available to support students. It is also extremely helpful to provide links in your syllabus and/or in your course space to academic and student support inks to other learning resources as appropriate for the course.

If you have concerns about a student: 


Academic Alert Initiative

The UMass Amherst Academic Alert initiative partners with instructors and advisors to connect undergraduate students with the resources needed to meet the rigors of college-level academic work and expectations. Through a coordinated referral network, students are guided toward resources that support mastery of course content and academic skill development. 

Tools to share with students:


Teaching Strategies

Citizen Science

Are you interested in more active learning opportunities and assignments for your students?  Are you tired of assignments where the work your students do is just discarded after it's used to assess their progress and understanding? Community and Citizen Science projects offer opportunities to involve your students in real, ongoing research where their contributions advance our understanding of the world.  Your class's participation can be tailored to fit your pedagogical goals, and the variety of projects out there offer options from an online task that can be measured in minutes to designing an entire course around contributing to a project.

Learn more about Citizen Science and explore some projects in action:

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CUREs)

CUREs is an approach to provide opportunities for a wide variety of undergraduates to gain research experience and practice scientific thinking. Studies have shown that undergraduates engaged in scientific research report a higher likelihood of persistence in STEM and greater sense of independence, but the traditional method of conducting research, by working with a mentor in their research laboratory, is limited both because of limited resources in research labs and limited time by faculty. By developing research-projects that can be conducted in laboratory courses, more students can be exposed to this high-impact practice while not increasing the workload of the respective faculty.

Visit CUREnet or read A Guide to Course-based Undergraduate Research co-authored by CNS' own Gabriela Weaver to learn more. This title is available through the UMass Libraries.  

Synchronous and Asynchronous Engagement Strategies

Visit the Synchronous and Asynchronous Engagement Strategies document for recommendations on sharing workload and time considerations with students, course design strategies to help with information overload, engagement strategies for both Zoom and Moodle, and student success strategies to incorporate into remote and online courses. 

Additional Resources

The CNS Keep Teaching site was designed in Spring 2020 to provide guidance for working remotely, best practices, tools and technologies for remote learning, recommendations on how to offer exams online and suggestions for maintaining academic integrity in the submission of online work, and other helpful resources.