Reinforcing Responsible Learning: Acknowledgement of Syllabus and Course Requirements

Reinforcing Responsible Learning: Acknowledgement of Syllabus and Course Requirements

John J. Rivera (University of Guam, Guam), Richard S. Colfax (University of Guam, Guam) and Joann C. E. Diego (University of Guam, Guam)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7438-5.ch005
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This chapter reviews the common business practice of providing an employee handbook to new employees, which should guide employee behavior. The expectations and responsibilities of employees are accepted and documented using an employee acknowledgement statement. These real-world practices are introduced to the college human resource management classroom through the course syllabus and a document called a “Course Start Contract” or “Acknowledgement of Syllabus and Course Requirements” developed by the authors. The Course Start Contract explains and reinforces the need for college students to accept responsibilities in the classroom in the same way that employees must accept responsibility and comply with organizational requirements in the workplace.
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Most college level courses, in a significant number of educational institutions today, are required to provide students with a syllabus for each course. While syllabi are such a staple, the body of knowledge around the scholarship of teaching and learning literature affirms that innovating on syllabi is lacking (Fornaciari & Dean, 2014). In this way, much of the literature focuses on operational norms: “what” to include and “how” it should be structured. Little is still known about the course syllabus as a tool of the teaching and learning process. Thereby syllabi innovation or syllabi companion strategy is an important part of 21st century educational tools in higher education.

The syllabus is generally expected to identify the requirements and expectations of the specific course that is being taken. The syllabus further identifies materials that will be utilized such as textbooks and handouts. More and more, the syllabus identifies the electronic tools and media that may be used in a course. The syllabus usually includes discretionary statements that allow for changes and modifications during the semester. In some cases, the syllabus has even been identified as a “contract” between the student and the instructor who represents the academic program, the academic unit, and even the institution itself. Fornaciari and Dean (2014), referring to multiple authors, confirm that the idea of a course syllabus as a contract “dominates the literature and is the longest enduring and most common metaphor” (p. 705). Most academic programs require instructors to provide and then follow quite closely the syllabus that outlines the expectations and requirements of the course of study. The same instructors hear something like the following every semester, multiple times, often from the same students:

Student: “Professor, when is this assignment due?” or “What is required? How do we do it?” or “I did not get the syllabus.”

Instructor: “It’s explained in the syllabus” or “The syllabus can be found on the course site.”

Student: “I don’t have a copy of the syllabus” or “I didn’t read the syllabus.”

Then the instructor is expected to re-explain something that is clearly identified and mapped out in the course syllabus. In the world of work, a similar document is often provided to employees: the document is often identified as the “Employee Handbook” or the “Company Handbook.” It is also a common practice to obtain a written assurance that an employee has received and understood the company (employer) expectations for the employment relationship. This will be identified here as the Employee Acknowledgement. The chapter introduces one tool that has been utilized in the HRM and portions of the management programs at the UOG.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Employee: An individual who is provided with a work position or job, and who generally receives compensation for work done and time spent completing tasks for an employer or business.

Course Syllabus: A statement or document where the content, schedule, procedures, and expectations related to an academic course of study are set forth.

Employee Acknowledgement: A statement or document where an employee will acknowledge receipt of the Employee Handbook and acknowledging the employee’s understanding of the company expectations and employee responsibilities involved in the employment relationship.

Employee Handbook: A compilation, often a booklet or document, that outlines employment expectations and requirements that apply to the workplace and employment relationship. The Handbook may be updated and is not a contract. It is also known by other names such as the Company Handbook, the Employee Manual, the Staff Handbook, or the Company Policy Manual.

Real World: The domain of practical, actual experience, as opposed to the more abstract, idealized and/or theoretical domain of the classroom or laboratory. College students often refer to the demands of the jobs they will seek in increasingly tight job markets, as conditions in the real world.

Human Resource Management (HRM): A business practice and department; responsible for management of employees and related functions; also, an academic course or program of study.

World of Work: A place where people work or are employed; also termed as Work World, Working World, Employment World.

Acknowledgement: The recognition, generally in written form, of receipt of information as well as requirements (such as compliance) in a business environment by an employee.

Student: An individual, who is enrolled in a course or program in an institution of higher learning, is generally pursuing a degree or learning related to a course of study discipline or degree program.

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