Graduate Student Expectations


  1. Overview of Student Responsibilities
  2. Ethical Responsibility
  3. Communication and Participation
  4. Time Management
  5. Study Environment
  6. Computer Requirements
  7. Distance Learning Online Readiness Self-Check
  8. Additional Resources and Supports
  9. Faculty and Program Responsibilities for Student Retention and Tracking
  10. Graduate School Leave of Absence

Overview of Student Responsibilities

All online programs at Western State Colorado University create student-centered learning environments, which require that the students accept the responsibility for learning outcomes. Online students need to be self-motivated, dedicated, and determined as learners. Students must demonstrate self-reliance and self-direction in the setting and completion of individual- and group-learning goals and objectives. In online courses, high levels of professionalism, collaboration, and interactivity are required.

Within each discipline, online learning communities are developed in which students must demonstrate effective communication and collaboration skills. Students must acknowledge and demonstrate respect for the personal and professional growth of oneself as well as others as well as assess one's own and others' interpersonal strengths and weaknesses by constructively utilizing and providing feedback. Recognizing one's own personal and professional values and the personal and professional values of others also enhances the effectiveness of learning online.

Online learning emphasizes process. That is, online learning involves more than the accumulation and memorization of information. The instructor's role is that of a facilitator and guide. Rather than face-to-face lectures, the instructor provides information through interactive online course tools, videos, live classroom, assignments, projects, and papers. Students are responsible for reviewing all courses materials and asking questions to clarify information that may be unclear. In the online learning community students are expected to turn to each other and to the instructor for support when needed.

The student and the instructor must maintain a positive and productive focus in order to facilitate the teaching and learning process. When difficulties arise in an online course, the learner must maintain a professional, positive, productive, and problem-solving stance. Thus, students must accept responsibility for working collaboratively in the learning process and for the achievement of those learning outcomes linked to group performance and avoid disruptive activity that hinders or interferes with other students' or faculty's educational environment.

The more effort students put forth in online courses to comprehend the material the more likely they are to succeed. Extra effort during the course will lead to a better, more lasting experience. Online courses have a lot to offer students who dedicate the time and focus to getting the most out of their courses. Students who internalize these essential skills and attitudes related to online learning will experience success as they seek, evaluate, and process the almost limitless amount of available information.
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Ethical Responsibility

All participants are accountable for compliance with the Western State Colorado University Online Student Responsibilities and Expectations:

  • Ensure that all verbal and written communications (including e-mail) with other students and faculty remain professional, positive and productive.
  • Demonstrate respect for faculty, fellow students, and staff regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious, moral, or political beliefs.
  • Maintain confidentiality and acknowledge individual privacy in the communication of personal or professional information about one's employer, other students, or their employers.
  • Uphold the highest ethical standards in the preparation and submission of required course work. Intentionally using unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise or representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in an academic exercise will follow the college academic misconduct policies.
  • Observe the college anti-discrimination policy and college harassment policy as published in the student handbook.
  • Refrain from creating a hostile or offensive educational environment for any student or faculty member.
  • Withdraw from courses using the WOL registration services tools prior to the set withdrawal dates, refer to the current term course schedule.

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Communication and Participation

The more effort put forth in online courses to comprehend the material, the more likely success will be experienced upon course completion. Extra effort during the course will lead to a better, more lasting experience. Online courses have a lot to offer students who dedicate the time and focus to getting the most out of their courses.

  • Take an active part in online education by interacting with classmates and instructors. Online courses are designed to include group discussions, online chats and Live Classrooms.
  • Log into courses on a DAILY BASIS to view announcements, participate in class activities, assignments, online discussion and quizzes and tests.
  • Take part in regularly scheduled online activities.
  • Participate for the full time scheduled for synchronous live classroom and chat sessions as outlined in the course syllabus.
  • Complete the online assignments, quizzes, and activities by the due date.
  • Seek the help of peers in the course by posting questions to the discussion board, sending them an e-mail or arranging to meet them in a chat room for a study session. In this way you will be able to benefit from other students' knowledge and insights.
  • Let the instructor know immediately when experiencing difficulties due to assignment confusion, schedules, or personal/family issues. Do not wait to let the instructor know assistance is needed.
  • Let the appropriate faculty member know if there is a problem, but also to let him/her know when things are going well. Constructive feedback and positive feedback are welcome.
  • Contact the instructor with course related questions via course email.
  • Contact the instructor well in advance of due dates to allow the instructor 24 hours for a response to posted questions.
  • When e-mail communication becomes confusing, call the instructor on his/her office phone. Verbal communication can often clarify confusing e-mails.
  • Adhere to all program and late coursework policies as outlined in each course syllabus.
  • Follow the guidelines provided by the instructor for critiquing and resubmitting work. In most cases, students will be provided with the opportunity to redo assignments for improvement based on the instructor's feedback. Take advantage of this important aspect provided in your courses.
  • Obtain books and materials for your courses before the term begins.
  • You can buy your books for the fall term when you are on campus in the summer or you can order them online from the Western State Colorado University Bookstore -

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Time Management

Time management is one of the most important factors in completing any coursework, especially for online courses. Successful online students have to be very organized in their studies and take responsibility for their own learning:

  • Set aside nine hours of study time (per three-credit course) per week for the duration of each term.
  • Determine what time of day you can best focus on studies. Find time for coursework in order to make the most of it.
  • Set a schedule for studying. Get into a routine of sitting down at the same time each night or for the same hour(s) each morning to ensure that you stay on top of course work and not fall behind.
  • Avoid distractions, such as phone calls or television when studying.
  • Find a balance between school and other important aspects of life.

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Study Environment

  • Study in a well-lighted place that is free from distractions. If it is not possible to escape in-home interruptions, then work on campus, in libraries or learning centers, or some other quiet place.
  • Schedule designated study time in a distraction-free environment and chances for success will increase. Making better use of time may result in spending less time studying.

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Computer Requirements

All online programs at Western State Colorado University rely heavily upon technology for the delivery of courses as well as the day-to-day communications required between instructor and student. For these reasons, it is important that all students have access to a computer. Below is a list of requirements that are crucial to program success:

  • Modern Windows or Macintosh computer.
  • Microsoft Office Suite XP or newer with Microsoft Word (not Works)
  • A high-speed (cable, DSL, LAN, etc.) Internet connection is strongly encouraged. It is required to regularly access rich media (audio and video downloads) as well as upload all course work and evidence to the work sample site. These activities do not work reliably on slow Internet connections such as dial-up.
  • Computer speakers or headphones.
  • Video recording device (digital video camera, cell phone with video camera, etc.).
  • A reasonable level of computer self-support. There is no need to be a techie, but it may be necessary to install common Internet applications, access web sites and participate in many online collaborative activities. Remotely troubleshooting issues with hardware, software and/or Internet connections can be exceptionally challenging, so a level of self-sufficiency is necessary for success in the program.
  • Additional recommendations for general campus computing and help can be found at the Student Helpdesk.

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Additional Computer Requirements specific to Teacher Education Programs

  • While not required, a digital camera and/or scanner is helpful when compiling work sample evidence for the electronic portfolio.

Distance Learning Online Readiness Self-Check

(adapted with permission from Mount Hood Community College’s Online Readiness Advisor Tool, referred to as "Aura.")

There will be a Distance Learning Online Readiness Self-Check that all students enrolled in the graduate programs at Western State Colorado University will be required to complete. It will assess students in four areas Technology Readiness, Software Readiness, e-Learning Readiness, and Blackboard Readiness.

There are technical and learning style considerations that students need to understand about themselves before taking an online course at Western State Colorado University. Students will be asked a series of questions to help identify successful online learning practices, technology requirements, essential software skills, and critical student support options in each of the four areas.

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Additional Resources and Support

Technology Readiness Resources/Support

Software Readiness Resources/Support

  • Western State Colorado University Disability Services

e-Learning Readiness Resources/Support

Blackboard Readiness Support

  • Blackboard structure and tool Online Learning Tutorial 

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Faculty and Program Responsibilities for Student Retention and Tracking

The faculty members of the Western State Colorado University online degree programs are committed to implementing effective strategies for student retention and tracking of student success. By following these guidelines, they will provide students with the means to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses as learners. The ultimate goal of these strategies is for students to take greater ownership of their work, and hence greater responsibility for their learning.

When difficulties arise in an online course, the course instructor and the student must work together to maintain a professional, positive, productive, and problem-solving stance. Thus the following steps will be taken to facilitate student retention and tracking for success, refer to the this flow chart.

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Graduate School Leave of Absence

The Leave of Absence is to be used by students who plan to be inactive for any academic term. Academic Leaves of Absence are granted for one semester or one year to continuing, degree-seeking students in good academic standing. Students are required to contact the Graduate School and to complete the Leave of Absence form in order to be considered for this status, refer to the leave of absence form provided below.

Prospective students will be informed of estimated program costs, payment, and refund policies; sequence and availability of course offerings; estimated time for program completion, and; administrative arrangements through the institution’s college catalog, graduate student handbook, and/or website.

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