(from Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois teaching centers). An Effective Syllabus to Reflect Your Course Design. A syllabus serves many functions in a class. In The Course Syllabus: A Learning Centered Approach (2008, 2nd Ed.) Judith Grunert O’Brien, Barbara J. Millis and Margaret W. Cohen identify at least sixteen elements of a learner-centered syllabus. First: a good syllabus relies on thoughtful course design. The strongest syllabi are built on a solid foundation of course design. Here are some steps to create an effective syllabus. In addition, please check out our Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning page on syllabus design.