Graduate Faculty Expectations

Providing an Outstanding Educational Experience

Western State Colorado University strives to deliver an outstanding educational experience to all students. Western’s graduate courses are thoroughly designed and delivered by academically qualified faculty members with professional experience. Expectations for faculty members are listed below and divided into the following categories: Course Overview and Introduction, Learning Objectives, Assessment and Measurement, Resources and Materials, Learner Engagement, Course Technology, Learner Support, and Accessibility. Instructors are expected to follow the guidelines below for online courses they are teaching.

Course Overview and Introduction

Faculty are required to provide a detailed course syllabus in accordance with departmental guidelines. The syllabus must include:

  • Grading criteria, including explicit expectations for participation and a policy on late submission
  • Protocol for responding to online communication from students and time frames for responses
  • Contact information (working email address and office phone number) and office hours (both live and virtual)
  • Course schedule, including all dates for units/modules and especially dates for all items due

Faculty are also expected to send an email and/or post a video message to students at the beginning of the semester to welcome the students to the class, to give a brief orientation, and to direct students to find the syllabus. Further, faculty should post an up-to-date biography stating professional credentials and other relevant information.

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Learning Objectives

Faculty are expected to plan and list course objectives for students in the syllabus and for each module throughout the class. Learning Objectives are to be approved by the department prior to the start of class and should be clearly communicated to students. The learning objectives will be aligned to program requirements and state standards.

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Assessment and Measurement

Western State Colorado University holds students to a very high standard. Therefore, all work will be assessed thoroughly and feedback will be provided to enhance the learning practice. What follows is a list of protocol for providing feedback and determining grades on assigned work.

  • Graded assignments will be returned to students with feedback and recorded in the online Gradebook within 24 hours of the due date (due dates are consistent throughout the course and all assignments are due by midnight). Exceptions to this rule will exist for lengthy assignments/papers (e.g., term papers), and will be agreed upon by faculty and communicated clearly to students. Feedback delivery time for major assignments will not exceed beyond ten business days from the due date.
  • Faculty will check and respond to discussion board or other online postings within 12 to 24 hours of receipt. Because these postings are treated like class discussions, it is important to monitor the discussion daily, even though a response will not always be necessary to every post. Posts must always be responded to when a specific question is asked or when a reference is necessary to draw connections.
  • In giving feedback to students, faculty will always begin with a positive note followed by what needs to be corrected. Faculty will never type in all caps unless making a positive note.
  • Faculty are expected to provide written feedback to accompany the grade on all assignments and to pay special attention to providing adequate feedback on the first major assignment. Instructor feedback, particularly at the beginning of the class, will help to make clear the expectations for students in future assignments.
  • Assignments upon which future assignments depend should be returned to students as quickly as possible to allow plenty of time for students to make corrections based on feedback from the instructor (e.g., annotated bibliography that will support a major paper).
  • Faculty will provide personalized feedback on all assignments that suggests areas for improvement and also reinforces and acknowledges excellence. Further, faculty will indicate where the learning gained from the current assignment will be used in future assignments.

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Resources and Materials

Faculty are expected to use current, relevant, authentic and meaningful resources in developing their courses. Compensation will be made for course design and course instruction based on the Western State Colorado University faculty salary schedule. All resources and materials should be checked and double checked that they are in viewable formats for students to view. In the event that a resource or material is not accessible by students, faculty are expected to remedy the issue as soon as possible.

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Learner Engagement

Faculty are expected to deliver courses in a professional and organized manner, and to interact with students regularly in a constructive and encouraging manner. In accordance with the philosophy of the online program at Western State Colorado University, students will be regularly engaged by the instructor through discussions, feedback, email, voice, and/or video communication. Faculty will always be responsive to student contributions and requests following the expectations that were set forth in the syllabus. Faculty will encourage students to use complex critical thinking skills and to participate regularly. Faculty will quickly identify and address problems with course content or technology and contribute to the continuous improvement of the course throughout the semester and afterward.

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Course Technology and Learner Support

Faculty will be trained on the newest online platforms and software used by Western State College and will be expected to understand and utilize the tools available. In the event that there are technological issues or problems, the faculty must be committed to quickly and positively resolving the issues or problems. Faculty will always address any student inquiries related to course content, assignments, the Blackboard environment, and technical/support issues. Instructors are expected to insure that technical support issues are addressed by the Western State Help Desk or Wimba Technical Support. Faculty will also monitor and insure that students are following the honesty policy that they pledged to upon acceptance into the program.

Faculty will make regular self-assessments of teaching methods, technology effectiveness, and style. Online teaching, by providing a nearly complete record of the course, enhances the faculty member's ability to reflect on the effectiveness of methods and approaches. Therefore, faculty will be expected to embark upon regular reflective practice. Faculty will set an example for students of commitment to life-long learning and will participate in faculty development workshops to improve teaching and technology skills for the continued support of learners. Faculty are expected to be current and eager to learn in their respective fields and in instructional technology for the best support of learners.

In the event that a faculty member gives a student an Incomplete grade (I), he or she must agree to provide appropriate assistance, without additional compensation, to that student and to allow completion of the coursework within the next twelve months.

To best support learners, faculty will alert students by email if they will not be participating in the online course for a particular timeframe. Students are expected to respond to the instructor within 24 hours in a professional, positive, and productive manner. Then, the instructor will be expected to engage in a problem solving conversation with the student. If email communication becomes negative or non-productive, the instructor will call the student on the telephone. If further issues persist, the faculty member should complete a Professionalism, Collaboration, and Communication (PCC) form and refer the student for a Selection and Retention meeting.

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Faculty must be committed to creating an environment where students can access information, be comfortable asking questions, and work successfully toward meeting objectives. When necessary, faculty will collaborate with one another to guarantee accessibility to all students regardless of learning exceptionality. If students are having any administrative problems with the College, the faculty will help to assist students in resolving the problem or will direct students to the appropriate campus office.

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Required Training and Support

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