Include Prerequisite Knowledge and Competencies in Your Syllabus

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases High Quality item, “Course syllabus includes prerequisite knowledge, and/or technical and other competencies (e.g., prerequisite courses to be completed, necessary skills).”

What skills or knowledge will students need to already possess in order to succeed in your course? Clarifying prerequisite knowledge and competencies helps students assess their readiness.

What Are Some Ways Your Online Course Can Be Designed to Meet This Standard?

  • In the syllabus, list any requirements that a student must have fulfilled before taking the current course. This could be a course or another factor, such as class standing. To check whether your course has any prerequisite courses or other requirements, consult the UCF Catalog
  • It is also helpful to identify the content knowledge and technical skills a student should possess prior to taking your course. The Syllabus and Interactive Syllabus templates within the Templater tool have areas in which to fill in this information.

What Does This Look like in a Real Online Course?

Here are some examples from real-life course syllabi:

  • “Knowledge of basic biological concepts”
  • “Knowledge of (a) linear algebra, (b) differential calculus, and (c) basic mathematical concepts such as sets, functions, vectors, matrices etc.”
  • “You must have taken the introductory course in computer programming before taking this one.This background is essential for both the knowledge of the subject matter and experience in formulating proofs.”
  • “You are expected to have working knowledge and capability with your computer hardware and a variety of software applications (e.g., PowerPoint and SPSS) in order to be successful in this class.”