Self and Syllabus: An Interactive Guide for Aligning Syllabus Language and Teacher Self-Perception

Do Students Meet “You” in Your Syllabus?

Our research shows that instructors' syllabi are generally not aligned with their views of themselves as teachers. For example, instructors generally do not communicate their positive emotions or their excitement related to teaching through their syllabi.

The Academy for Teaching and Learning has partnered with University Libraries to create an open-access tool that compares the language on your syllabi with your emotional associations with teaching. With this tool you can not only discover areas of misalignment, but explore alternative language that may help you better align your syllabus language with your teaching self-perception.

Self and Syllabus Tool (requires Google sign-in)



Richmann, Christopher; Kurinec, Courtney; and Millsap, Matthew (2020) "Syllabus Language, Teaching Style, and Instructor Self-Perception: Toward Congruence," International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 14: No. 2, Article 4.

Abstract: As with all language, the words of a syllabus carry emotional associations. Previous literature has not objectively measured the emotional associations of syllabus language or explored the relationship between instructors’ teaching style and the emotional associations of syllabus language. Using the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) framework, this article reports baseline measurements for syllabus language, investigates the relationship be-tween Grasha’s teaching styles and instructors’ self-perceived emotional associations with teaching, and compares instructors’ self-perceptions with the emotional associations of their syllabus language. Moderate correlations between teaching PAD scores and Grasha’s teaching style inventory suggest the emotion that may connect with concrete teaching attitudes and behaviors. Crucially, we find that most instructors’ syllabi are incongruent with their teaching self-perceptions on key emotional dimensions. In other words, instructors’ syllabi are not communicating the central emotional associations of their instructor self-perception. Syllabus language can be altered, however, to align more closely with instructor self-perception.