Ollivier Dyens, Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning
A course outline is an agreement between the professor (representing the University) and his/her students.
A course outline identifies how the course is structured, both pedagogically and administratively, and therefore must be as complete and cover as much pedagogical and administrative information as possible. The pedagogical objectives must be clearly stated. It must explain the criteria used for grading. It must also state what it expects from students in terms of course work, preparation, assignment due dates and in-class behaviour. Sanctions must also be clearly indicated and explained. Professors are required to send a copy of their course outline to their department or unit.
The following rubrics and information must be
present in every course outline:
• Course title, number, credits, semester, year.
• Class date, time and location (campus, building, room number).
• Name and title of the instructor, Faculty and Department.
• Access to the instructor: office location, campus phone number, email, website (if available), office hours, preferred means of contact.
• Similar access information for teaching assistants, where applicable.
• Calendar course description (must be identical to that in the calendar).
• Expanded course description.
• Specific knowledge or skills students should have before beginning the course (e.g., computer skills).
• If appropriate, explain what the course is not about or what topics will not be covered.
Clear statement of the knowledge, competencies or skills students are expected to achieve (e.g., synthesize information, make predictions, solve problems, etc.).
SCHEDULE (may be subject to change)
• Assignments due dates.
• Exam dates.
• Legal holidays/No class dates.
• Special activities (e.g., group selection for project work, guest speaker, etc.).
• Provide a general schedule of the main topics to be addressed and questions that will drive discussion.
• List DNE/DISC withdrawal dates.
• Include plan for make-up classes.
• List the required textbook(s) for the course.
• Indicate where the book(s) can be borrowed or purchased.
• If additional readings are required, list the articles and indicate where they can be obtained.
• Readings that have been placed on reserve in the Library should be indicated.
• Suggested readings should also be listed.
• List other required resources (e.g., lab equipment, software, art supplies, etc.); indicate where they can be found and, if applicable, how much they will cost.
• Provide explicit information about assignments and grading procedures (e.g., term papers, exams, quizzes, participation).
• List clearly what percentage of the final grade each assignment is worth.
• Include the grading scale and the grading criteria.
• Describe your department’s policy on oral and written proficiency.
• Mention under what circumstances a student may fail the course.
Once the semester has started, the grading scale should not be changed without either unanimous consent of students or consent from the chair.2
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Include the following statements:
The most common offense under the Academic Code of Conduct is plagiarism which the Code defines as “the presentation of the work of another person as one’s own or without proper acknowledgement.”
This could be material copied word for word from books, journals, internet sites, professor’s course notes, etc. It could be material that is paraphrased but closely resembles the original source. It could be the work of a fellow student, for example, an answer on a quiz, data for a lab report, a paper or assignment completed by another student. It might be a paper purchased through one of the many available sources. Plagiarism does not refer to words alone - it can also refer to copying images, graphs, tables, and ideas. “Presentation” is not limited to written work. It also includes oral presentations, computer assignments and artistic works. Finally, if you translate the work of another person into French or English and do not cite the source, this is also plagiarism.
In Simple Words:
Do not copy, paraphrase or translate anything from anywhere without saying from where you obtained it!
2 Reasonable efforts must have been made to contact all students.
For more detailed information on what to include in your course outline, download the Course Outline Template (May, 2009) from the CTLS website.
IMPROVING STUDENTS' ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE
Many students do not complete their program within five years. The reasons for it are numerous. Some students abandon their program for well-thought-out, pondered reasons. Most, however, fail to complete their degree because of preventable circumstances (financial, psychological, academic, etc.).
More than 60 per cent of students who do not complete their degree are in good academic standing.
The University offers many services that can help students. Unfortunately, most students are not aware that these services actually exist. Taking five minutes at the beginning of the semester to remind students what these services are and where to find them will go a long way in making sure students are given as many tools as possible to succeed academically.
To improve students’ ability to complete their degree, it is strongly recommended that the following list of services be included in every course outline (remember that a student may experience problems at anytime during his or her academic career):
• Name of the Department’s Academic Advisor
• Concordia Counselling and Development offers career services, psychological services, student learning services, etc.
• The Concordia Library Citation and Style Guides
• Advocacy and Support Services
• Student Transition Centre
• New Student Program
• Access Centre for Students with Disabilities
• Student Success Centre
• The Academic Integrity Website
• Financial Aid and Awards
• Health Services