How to Design a Syllabus for Your WebAssign Course

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As you begin your semester, you may be wondering how to merge your class policies with the variety of settings and capabilities in WebAssign. Here are some tips to help you design a syllabus for your WebAssign course that includes access instructions, assignment due dates and extension policies.


Clearly Communicate the Required Materials

When you design your syllabus, be sure to clearly articulate required course materials and any information students may need to help them make their purchasing decisions. These include:

  • Required materials and technology: book title, author, ISBN and other necessary technology like WebAssign.
  • Affordable options: Encourage students to forgo a hardcopy textbook and purchase WebAssign for your required title, which includes an eTextbook. Students also have the option to purchase Cengage Unlimited, which includes access to WebAssign as well as our entire library of eTextbooks and online learning platforms.

Be sure to include a warning about used textbooks with WebAssign access codes. Often students choose to purchase used textbooks from an outside vendor, and they find that the WebAssign access code was already used by a past student.


Include Purchase and Access Instructions

The easiest way for a student to purchase course materials is to create a Cengage account, then purchase their materials directly from the platform. However, students can also purchase their materials from the campus bookstore or from another vendor.

To easily help students purchase and access WebAssign:

  • Navigate to and select WebAssign to receive personalized instructions that match your course type. Copy the link at the top of the page for your syllabus.
  • If you’re not using a Learning Management System (LMS), include the Class Key in your syllabus. This will allow students to connect their WebAssign account to your course.
  • If students are required to purchase their materials from the bookstore, be sure to make this clear in your syllabus.
  • Remind students that they will have 14 days to purchase WebAssign and will not be let in to their WebAssign class until your course start date.

If you’d like templated instructions for the different ways to access WebAssign, explore our Syllabus Resources page.


Introduce Students to WebAssign

Some students may be new to WebAssign. Introduce them to the platform by incorporating the following into your syllabus:

  • Brief description of WebAssign: Make sure students understand what WebAssign is and how it will benefit their education. For example:
    • WebAssign helps you prepare for class with confidence. It fuels practice, so you absorb what you learn—and are better prepared come test time. Videos, tutorials and your eTextbook walk you through concepts and deliver instant feedback, so you always know where you stand in class. Focus your study time and get extra practice where you need it most.
  • Student introduction video: This video walks students through the key features in WebAssign, with tips for making the most of the platform in your class.


Require WebAssign in Your Course to Increase Engagement

If you don’t require something, students are less likely to use it. Make sure students stay engaged with course and the activities in WebAssign by requiring completion of WebAssign activities for at least 20% of your class grade.

Setting a value of 10% or less may signal less-committed students to skip WebAssign, causing them to miss great opportunities to stay on track, deepen topic understanding and build confidence.


Define Your Class Policies

Have you ever wanted to change your class policies, but weren’t sure what WebAssign would support? Let’s dig into the common policies and settings you can use in WebAssign and reference in your syllabus.


Assignment Due Dates

Give students direction on when their WebAssign assignments will be due. Within WebAssign, you can customize assignment due dates, setting them for the same time each week (recommended), or make them due a few hours before your class meets.



You have two ways to offer extensions in WebAssign—automatically or manually (which requires your approval). Regardless of which you choose, be sure to clearly articulate how you plan to approach extensions in your course, which could include:

  • No extensions allowed.
  • Extensions upon request, with good reason such as an emergency or health issue. You’ll receive these requests and be able to approve or deny them.
  • Customizing the number of extensions by category. For example, you may choose to allow one extension per semester for homework, but none for exams.
  • Automatic extensions with penalty. If you worry students will overuse extension requests, include a penalty for using the extension such as a percentage of their assignment grade or a set number of points.


Extra Time on a Timed Assignment

If a student, or multiple students, need extra time on a timed assignment, you can set this up in your assignment restrictions. You’ll be able to input the number of extra minutes each student will receive, in addition to the time you’ve already set for your assignment.

You also can add or subtract points from the overall score if you would like to penalize the student should they not offer a compelling reason for needing extra time.


Extra Credit or Bonus Points

While you may choose to forgo bonus points altogether, consider using it as an incentive for students. For example, you can incentivize students to submit their work on time by offering bonus points for completing the assignment a certain number of hours before the due date. Outline this in your syllabus under an “Extra Credit” section and point students there when they ask for ways to improve their grade.



Use the WebAssign GradeBook to calculate category averages or totals and final scores. Then, assign grades based on the work your students do both in and out of WebAssign. For your syllabus, you may want to consider:

  • Setting specific scores to align with letter grades in WebAssign. For example, you need a 93 to receive an A.
  • Dropping specific assignments from the gradebook, such as the lowest scores or the lowest score in a specific category like homework.
  • Excusing students from assignments. This will not impact their overall grade.



Where you typically include your email and office hours in your syllabus, consider how WebAssign can make student communication easier. Some WebAssign instructors have hosted virtual office hours using Private Messaging and Ask Your Teacher messages to give students a time to ask questions and get homework help. This empowers students to get help without the professor having to be “always on.”


Highlight Any Required Technology

If you plan to deliver exams to your students in WebAssign, include a “Required Technology” section in your syllabus with a link to instructions for downloading LockDown Browser before the exam.


Share Where Students Should Go for Help

Direct your students to tech support so you don’t have to fill that role! Students can call, chat or submit a case to Cengage Support if they’re having difficulty registering for or accessing content within WebAssign. Include the following information in your syllabus:

  • Techcheck: If you are having a technical issue and are unable to access WebAssign, first look at the Techcheck page where you can see if WebAssign is experiencing any service interruptions.
  • Tech Support: To contact Technical Support, please visit


Want to design a syllabus for your WebAssign course using our templated copy-and-paste language? Check out our Syllabus Resources page.