Pharmacy Practice Faculty Publications


Tone and Style in Pharmacy Course Syllabi

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Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning





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Objective. Syllabi are a part of the teaching and learning experience in pharmacy curricula. Yet, little has been done to understand the effects of these documents. Studies in Psychology and Social Work report important effects of style and tone of syllabi on student perceptions and performance. We sought to describe a cross-sectional pattern in the tone and style of pharmacy course syllabi.

Methods. We retrieved syllabi via US pharmacy institutions and association website searches. The tone was characterized as “warm” or “cold” based on the publications in Psychology and Social Work higher education. QSR NVivo® software was used to code syllabi. Subsequently, categories of style and tone were quantified in a descriptive manner.

Results. We retrieved 416 pharmacy course syllabi from 30 public universities (69.8%) and 13 private universities (30.2%) across curricular disciplines. After observing saturation where no new patterns arose, 141 syllabi were analyzed.

Conclusions. Pharmacy course syllabi were rarely warm in tone and did not fully employ the components of the syllabus as a potential learning tool. This may have important implications on student-teacher interactions, professional development, and student perceptions and academic performance. More work should be done to determine whether and in what manner style and tone may affect pharmacy student learning and engagement.


Pharmacy, syllabus, tone, education, student, professor