top of page

Graphic Syllabi

Some faculty members are now using graphic illustrations as part of their syllabi to illustrate the flow of their course.  These three graphic syllabi from Mark Smillie at Carroll College (Helena, MT) give a great idea of  what is meant.  Basically, the idea is to include a "concept map" as part of the syllabus. There are a number of advantages to supplementing a traditional print syllabus with some graphic elements:


  • Adding a graphic can make clear to students the logic of the way the course is organized.

  • As we have pointed out elsewhere, our classes are filled with students who do not necessarily all have the same learning style as each other or the same style as their instructors.  Adding different modalities helps us reach out to different types of learners, and a graphic representation of the course can be especially helpful to visual learners.

  • Sometimes the effort of trying to show the logic of our course in a schematic way can help us, as instructors, rethink and reorganize our courses.


There are a variety of software programs that can help create graphic syllabi, including Powerpoint and Microsoft Word. 



Linda B. Nilson, at Clemson University, has a number of books and articles, including: Nilson, Linda B. 2007. The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. See also Biktimirov, Ernest and Nilson, Linda B. 2003. "Mapping your course: Designing a graphic syllabus for introductory finance." Journal of Education for Business, 78, 6 (July/August): 308-312.  


Note: a translation of this page in Haitian Creole is also available, courtesy of John Orbi. 


Author: John Immerwahr
Update: June 16, 2012

bottom of page