Toward a Better Syllabus: Entropy-driven Introspection for Alternative Lesson Plans

Anestis A. Toptsis


Developing a lesson plan (or syllabus) for a course can be a very time consuming process. Once the instructor has a pool of topics to be taught in the course, the organization of those topics in a form that facilitates understandability by the students as well as efficiency with respect to the order of presentation can be an elusive task – many times considered to be an art that distinguishes good from exceptional teachers. In this paper we present a method that is helpful in the process of choosing a better lesson plan, among several alternative lesson plans. We do not imply that the presented method is a panacea for the formation of a best lesson plan, however, the method is useful in situations when several alternative complicated and lengthy lesson plans may be contemplated for the purpose of selecting the most viable option. Our method is based on the notion of entropy, borrowed from information theory. It provides a fairly simple and quick way to decide which one – among several alternative lesson plans, is a better choice for adoption.

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