Having Students "Sign on the Dotted Line": The Implications of Treating the Syllabus as a Contract

Stephen Neaderhiser


The syllabus can have multiple or different purposes, ranging from course plan to communication tool. However, even when scholarly and pedagogical literature discussing the syllabus acknowledge these different purposes, one of the most prevalent metaphors associated with the syllabus is the contract metaphor. Furthermore, the association between the syllabus and a contract is not always treated metaphorically, with several teachers believing that the syllabus is a literal, legally binding contract. The purpose of this article is to explore the implications and realities behind the “syllabus as contract” metaphor. The article addresses the perceived legality of the contractual syllabus, in light of the fact that legal court systems have maintained that the syllabus is not a binding contract, and how the “syllabus as contract” metaphor can complicate the productive classroom experience. The article concludes by discussing how to resist the more damaging results associated with treating the syllabus as a contract.


Syllabus, classroom genres, syllabus contract

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.


ISSN 2163-3177

Register as a reviewer, author, or reader