First

Impressions

Why?

students who experience informal interactions
tend to be more motivated, engaged, and actively
involved in the learning process (Thompson, 2001;
Woodside, Wong, & Weist, 1999).

Perception of faculty has been identified as a
primary agent of college culture, and has an
important influence on the attitudes, interests,
and values of college students (Chickering&
Reisser, 1993; Lambert, Terinzini, & Lattuca, 2007;
Pascarella, 1980b; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991,
2005; Thompson, 2001)

Faculty members allowing students to use their
first names are perceived as higher in warmth,
approachability, and respect in comparison to
faculty members who are addressed by formal
titles (McDowell & Westman, 2005).

First Impressions and Professor Reputation: Influence on
Student Evaluations of Instruction
Buchert, Stephanie; Laws, Eric L.; Apperson, Jennifer M.; Bregman,
Norman J.
Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, 2008-Nov

“We examined the effects of professor reputation versus
first impressions on student evaluations of instruction.
Students in 19 Psychology courses completed course
evaluation surveys either before meeting the instructor or
2 weeks into the semester.
Both groups then completed the course evaluation again
at the end of the semester. Unlike evaluations completed
prior to meeting the professor, students' ratings 2 weeks
into the semester did not differ from end-of-semester
evaluations.
Therefore, students considered first impressions more
important than professor reputation as determinants of
their end-of-the semester evaluations. Results suggest
that students form lasting impressions within the first 2
weeks of classes.”

During her time at Harvard, Nalini Ambady performed
an experiment to examine the effect of first
impressions on perception. 
In this study, she divided students enrolled in a college
class  into two groups.  She showed each group video
clip of the professor “in action”.  One group saw clips
which depicted the professor as cold and uncaring. 
The other group saw clips which portrayed the
professor as warm and caring.  Each student was asked
to write an evaluation of the professor after viewing
the clip. 
At the end of the semester – the students who saw the
videos depicting the professors as warm and caring
still described him as warm and caring.  Those who
began the semester thinking the professor was cold
and uncaring ended by describing the professor as cold
and uncaring.

Students in a physiology course at Loyola University Chicago
Stritch School of Medicine were asked to evaluate 16
professors who lectured during the course. Students had the
option of evaluating each professor at the start of the course,
or waiting until the course ended. Students were allowed to
change their minds before the evaluations were finalized at
the end of the course.
The study, published in the December 2010 issue of the
journal Advances in Physiology Education, included 144
students. Twenty-six percent filled out evaluations at the start
and 65 percent waited until the course ended. Nine percent
did not submit evaluations.
The scores professors received on early evaluations were
markedly similar to the scores they received on evaluations
made after the course ended. (In statistical terms, the
correlation was .91.) And students rarely changed their minds
about professors -- only 3 percent of evaluations were revised
before the evaluations were finalized.

First Impressions
Syllabus Redesign

Content

Language

Visual

Content
Mandatory Content: (LACCD)

Office hours

Contact information

Approved Course SLOs

Basis of Grading
Work Product
Grading Criteria

Accommodation Statement for Students with Disabilities

Reference to the student code of conduct as it applies to
academic dishonesty

You can not count attendance as part of the grade or take off
points for lack of attendance

Learner-Centered Syllabus

“A learner centered syllabus requires that you shift from
what you, The instructor, are going to cover in your
course to a concern for what information and tools you
can provide for your students to promote learning and
intellectual development” (Diamond, p. xi).

What else should it have?

Teaching Philosophy

Purpose of the course

Course Objectives

Other student resources on campus (labs/ counseling / financial aid …)

Textbook ISBN number

Study skill suggestions

Online resources & difficult-to-obtain materials like videos, readings,
charts and graphs.

Establish a pattern of communications between instructor and student

Course title, number, credits

Time, Dates & Location

List Important Campus dates (drop dates, registration dates, etc.)

Prerequisites to the course

Syllabus Language
“The deadline for completing the homework is the day and time of the applicable
Midterm. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED. Failure to do the homework (that is,
failure to practice/rehearse/prepare for tests) is a sure way to fail any College course.
This syllabus is based on the expectation that the student will put in at least two hours
of homework for every hour in class. All students are expected to arrive on time and
stay for the entire class. Late arrivals are disruptive to both the lecturer and students.
Once you are seated, do not leave the room, as such comings and goings are
disruptive. Students must turn off all pagers and cell phones while in class. Students
are encouraged to ask questions and make comments on the lecture material. This
should be done in a courteous manner by raising one’s hand and being recognized.
Side conversations between students that disrupt the flow of the lecture will not be
tolerated as they are a distraction to other students. It is the student’s responsibility to
manage his or her academic workload.
It is the students’ responsibility to know all Add and Drop dates and procedures, and to
follow procedures by the deadlines. Also, please be aware of Financial Aid
opportunities, and special programs such as EOPS, MESA, and Internship possibilities.
DSPS students should inform me ASAP in order to make any applicable arrangements.
Except for bottled water, no food or drink in the classroom.”

“Regular and punctual attendance is expected from all of us.
Unlike most other courses, missing just one mathematics class
will immediately place you at a disadvantage because it is
difficult, if not impossible, to catch up on the missed material
by yourself.”
“To be successful in this and any other math class, expect to
spend at least two hours for every class hour. The majority of
learning that you do in college courses takes place outside of
class. What you get out of this class will depend on how much
you put into it. Mathematics is not a spectator sport, you have
to put in the work to see the results. Participation is greatly
appreciated, and encouraged!”

“I like my classes to have a fun, encouraging environment. I
expect you to come to class with a commitment to learn, take
good notes and participate in discussions and classwork. I like
group learning in my class. I expect my students to work
together and encourage each other. With that being said, I do
expect students to abide by the code of conduct in the college
handbook. Please do not disrupt the class by talking during
lecture or using profane language. I do encourage you to talk
and work together during classwork time, but please keep
your conversations to a whisper and make sure they are math
related.”

Visual

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5