Independent Study Guidelines

Independent Study Guidelines

Faculty Senate Jan. 24, 2000

Independent study courses, which involve working with individual students outside of the faculty member's normal teaching load, have historically been effective in handling special student interests and unusual circumstances. Recently, however, independent study courses have increasingly been used to fulfill regular course requirements for low enrollment classes. Unfortunately, many of our regular classes do not lend themselves to an independent study format, which can lead to a loss in quality of our students' education and raise accreditation issues. In addition, this situation can result in "work load creep" and potentially jeopardize the ability of faculty to conduct research and effectively teach their other classes. This additional work burden is often unequally distributed.

While the economic need for certain minimum class sizes is clear, it is proposed by Faculty Affairs that Division and Department Heads be given flexibility in deciding the viability of course offerings. Chairs and Deans should carefully plan and review course offerings and then negotiate with the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs to minimize the need for cancelled classes. Any overload assignment should be the faculty member's free choice.

In addition, we propose that faculty be allowed to accumulate (without time limit) the credit hours from supervised independent studies beginning in May 2000. The approval of the Chair and/or Dean must be obtained in writing at the time the course is offered, and it is the responsibility of the faculty member to keep a record of accumulated credit hours. When 30 student credit hours are accumulated, the faculty member is then entitled to receive reassigned time for one three-hours course. The use of the reassigned time should be consistent with normal faculty responsibilities. This policy would also apply to the supervision of internships, field experience, practicum, and projects demonstrating expertise outside of regular assignments.

If a faculty member is asked to teach an independent study that is necessary to allow a student to graduate because a regularly scheduled course was cancelled or not offered, then the faculty member will have the choice of taking monetary compensation instead of banking credit towards reassigned time. Monetary compensation will be based upon 80% of the tuition fee income generated by that course, based on the in-state undergraduate tuition at that time. (For example, in Spring 2000, a 3 credit hour course would be compensated by $234 per student.)

This proposal recognizes the need by the administration to minimize low enrollment classes. It also protects the faculty members' research and teaching time and assures that the workload is shared more equitable.