The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course
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More About This Title The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course


This book shows college instructors how to communicate their course organization to students in a graphic syllabus—a one-page diagram, flowchart, or concept map of the topical organization—and an outcomes map—a one-page flowchart of the sequence of student learning objectives and outcomes from the foundational through the mediating to the ultimate. It also documents the positive impact that graphics have on student learning and cautions readers about common errors in designing graphic syllabi.


Linda B. Nilson is founding director of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation at Clemson University.


About the Author.



1 The Limits of a Text Syllabus.

2 How and Why Graphics Enhance Learning.

3 Designing a Graphic Syllabus.

4 Charting an Outcomes Map.

5 How Graphics Benefit Course Organization.

Appendix A. More Model Graphic Syllabi for Inspiration.

Appendix B. Computer Software for Graphic Syllabi and Outcomes Maps.




“[Nilson’s] book… contains all sorts of amazing examples which aren’t designed to replace traditional syllabi text but to supplement it. If you are a visual learner and good with graphics, there’s a real opportunity to get creative here.

“If there was one of these graphic representations in the syllabus, on the course website or in a PowerPoint, it would be so easy to haul it out at every major juncture in the course to give some context to where we’re going and how it relates to where we’ve been. It could be used in a very literal sense to help students see the ‘big picture’ rather than experiencing the course as a collection of seemingly separate topics.

“In fact, this exercise need not be about just one course. Say there are two courses in a sequence or that one course is a pre-requisite to another. Rather than just saying that the courses are related, those relationships could be shown. It’s a way of getting students to understand that courses make artificial boundaries between content areas that are inextricably linked. It might also be a way of increasing the number of connections faculty could build between what students learned in one course and what they are studying in the next one. The possibilities are quite intriguing.”

—Maryellen Weimer, Teaching Professor Blog