The review of course proposals is a shared responsibility, the intent of which is to broadly communicate curricula, offer feedback, enhance the quality of instruction, and meet certain standards. This policy outlines the elements required for course proposals.
A course proposal must include information to support the development of the course. The following elements are required, when applicable, and appear in the Guide and Course Search & Enroll. These elements must be consistent across all course offerings and can only be changed via the Course Proposal Form in Lumen.
Directed/Independent Study or Thesis Course
Credits (Variable Credit)
Topic Title Eligibility
Course Attributes and Designations
General Education (QR-A and B, COMM A and B)
The subject must reflect the area of study and department offering the course. All proposals must be approved by the department that owns the subject listing and the school or college that owns the department. The same is true of any cross-list partners.
The course number must reflect the level of the course:
Specific course numbers are assigned to directed/independent study, undergraduate thesis, and graduate thesis and dissertation writing courses.
A cross-listed course must have the same elements in all cross-listed subjects:
Cross-listing is reserved for courses that are taught within an inter- or multi-disciplinary framework and that appropriately belong to multiple subject listings. There is no requirement that a course be cross-listed, even when it meets the following criteria:
The course title, also known as the Long Title, must reflect the overall theme of the course description and must be unique except for independent/directed study and similar courses where the title simply describes the basic activity of the course (e.g., Research, Thesis, etc.). It is utilized in Course Search and Enroll, Guide, Canvas and other campus systems and publications where space is not an issue.
A topic title-eligible course has two titles: a course title that is generic title and a topic title. Each time a section of the course is offered, the additional Topic Title is assigned to the section indicating the specific topic. See Topic Title Eligibility for more information.
The Transcript Title is an abridged version of the Course Title and appears on the student transcript. The Transcript Title must accurately reflect the course to external parties such as employers, other institutions, etc.
The course description provides a summary of the course content. The text of a course description is used in the search features of Guide, Course Search and Enroll, etc. Students use key words and phrases in course searches. The description must be written such that the intended audience (students, advisors, transfer credit evaluators, and the public) knows what will be taught in the course.
A course description must:
Note: In limited situations, information related to the enrollment of students in the course, such as “Consent of Instructor” may be included as the last sentence in the course description.
A catalog requisite is the academic preparation required of all students to be successful in a course. A requisite can take the form of a prerequisite (completed prior to the start of the course) or a co-requisite (taken concurrently with the course).
Each requisite must be transparent and inclusive of all ways a student can demonstrate preparation.
A requisite is not a means of managing enrollment. This is done at the section level with requirement groups and is not part of the course catalog. A section level requirement can be variable while a course catalog level requirement is constant. A section-level requirement group is determined when building the schedule of classes and may only be stricter than the catalog level requisite.
A requisite must, when applicable:
When a requisite is not enforceable in the enrollment system, ‘Consent of Instructor’ may be utilized by the academic department when developing the course description at the catalog level. See the list of standard requisites.
The grading basis for a course determines what grade options are available to the course instructor on the grade roster.
Available grading bases include:
A course component reflects a category of course meeting and is not intended to describe the instructional method.
Lecture: A commonly used component for group instruction.
Seminar: A small discussion-oriented course, usually in a specialized topic.
Field Study: A course that takes place in a work setting.
Discussion: A component that is an attachment to and subset of a lecture.
Laboratory: A component used to reflect hands on learning. A laboratory may be attached to a lecture or stand alone.
Directed/Independent Study or Thesis Course: A one-on-one learning experience where student learning is directed by an instructor and the student learns independently of other students.
Some course components may be used in combination:
Each course must abide by the Credit Hour policy, including a course offered for variable credit.
A variable credit course may take several forms:
A course may be designated as “repeatable” which allows a student to successfully complete the course for credit more than once.
The content of a topics course varies with each course offering. A topics course must not be used to circumvent the course proposal and approval process. A topic title that becomes a regular offering in the curriculum must be proposed as a new course.
A topics course is used to pilot and refine an idea for a new course, address a timely issue of special interest, or be offered for a limited time, and must:
A topics course is not to be cross-listed unless there is a specific programmatic and scholarly reason.
All attributes and designations are set at the catalog level and apply to all sections of a course, unless otherwise noted.
The graduate level course attribute is assigned to a course that meets graduate-level standards and contributes to the requirement that at least 50% of credits applied toward a graduate degree must be in courses designated for graduate work.
The honors designation may be used at the course catalog or section level. When designated at the course catalog level, every section of the course must be offered every time with the honors designation. When designated at the section level, oversight is the responsibility of the school/college honors program and is addressed each semester when developing the Schedule of Classes.
The breadth attributes are administered by the College of Letters and Science and indicates a course has been reviewed to meet the requirements for the L&S undergraduate degree (Natural Science, Humanities/Literature/Arts, and Social Studies requirements). Many schools and colleges also use the L&S breadth designation to indicate to students how they may meet their general education requirements.
LAS Credit Attribute
A course designated LAS Credit must encourage students in one or more of the three “habits of mind” of liberal arts education, as specified by the College of Letters and Science:
General Education Attribute
Consideration of course eligibility for a general education attribute occurs after all department and school/college approvals are granted.
Ethnic Studies Attribute
The ethnic studies requirement is overseen by the Ethnic Studies Subcommittee of the University General Education Committee, which reviews all requests.
Foreign Language Attribute
The foreign language course attribute differentiates courses where the primary focus of the course is teaching a method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way, from courses that focus on the culture, literature, history, and polity or other aspects of language learning.
Workplace experience encompasses internships, clinical work, cooperatives, practica, student teaching, and other simultaneous credit-bearing experiences based on immersive workplace experience that is linked to an academic program.
Course learning outcomes state what students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of a course and may contribute, or map to, program learning outcomes. Each course is expected to have three to five course learning outcomes.
Learning outcomes must be common to each offering of a course regardless of instructor, mode of instruction, etc. An instructor may have additional learning outcomes for a specific offering of a course, but these must not be in place of the approved and established course learning outcomes.
The maintenance of cross-listed courses can be time-consuming, complex, and error-prone: cross-listing is not “resource-neutral.” The cross-listing of courses increases the complexity of scheduling classes and will add to staff workload. This should be taken into consideration when proposals for cross-listing are considered. Tangential or insubstantial connections between programs and interests should not be sufficient for cross-listing courses across subject listings.
If a cross-listed subject is being removed:
Course titles may only be changed with the approval of governance via a course change proposal.
Transcript Title: Must be 30 characters or less. This is the limitation in the Student Information System (SIS); Lumen Courses enforces that limit. The best practice is to utilize as many characters as possible, as this is what displays on the student transcript.
|Catalog Number||Course Title|
|680||Senior Honors Thesis|
|681||Senior Honors Thesis|
|682||Senior Honors Thesis|
|790||Master's Research and Thesis|
|990||Research or Research and Thesis|
|x99 or x98||Directed or Independent Study|
When crafting the description, follow these rules:
Note, in limited situations:
Requisites are set at the catalog level and are true for all sections of a course. They are consistent, in that they remain the same every term until they are revised by course proposal, reviewed, and approved through governance. This helps students, advisors, and individuals determining transfer credit understand course sequences and make appropriate plans for completing requirements. The department(s) proposing/offering the course determine the academic preparedness and are the experts expected to articulate that preparedness in the requisite. Requisites must comply with the rules for building requisites.
Requisites are an element reviewed and approved at the subject level (department chair, FP&P 5.31), as the content experts are expected to know and articulate the appropriate level of preparation for a course. See the policy on Course Proposal Review Process - Purpose, Standards and Responsibilities for more information on subject/department responsibilities.
Section level requirements can be turned on and off and is the method to manage course enrollment.
Why requisites are important to enforce:
Institutional research has shown that students who enroll in courses without the necessary preparation have higher rates of D, F and drop than students who are appropriately prepared. Enforcing requisites is a way to ensure that students are only enrolling in courses that they are prepared for. For students to make smart decisions about their education, they need clear, consistent information.
Requisites are limited to 254 characters (maximum characters allowed in SIS); Lumen Courses enforces that limitation.
Rules when building requisites:
The resolution below was approved by the Faculty Senate at its meeting of 15 January 1973. Section 1 of the grading policy was adopted by the Faculty Senate at its meeting of 5 May 1980, to be effective in the first semester of the 1980-81 academic year.
The present grading system (A-F) will be retained with the following exceptions:
UW–Madison Faculty Senate Minutes – 15 January 1977 (For access to document see policy contact above)
UW–Madison Faculty Senate Minutes – 5 May 1980 (For access to document see policy contact above)
This policy defines the parameters for use of the pass/fail grading option for degree-seeking undergraduate students.
This policy only applies to degree-seeking students during their undergraduate careers. It only applies to courses that use the default A-F grading scale and that allow students to choose to take a course on a pass/fail basis.
Instructors are not formally notified when a student elects to take a course on the pass/fail grade basis. At the end of the course, the instructor will enter the final letter grade earned by the student on their grade roster, and the Office of the Registrar will convert the letter grade for a pass/fail student accordingly. A passing grade of S (Satisfactory) will be recorded when a letter grade of A through C is earned and a failing grade of U (Unsatisfactory) will be recorded when a letter grade of D or F is earned. In addition to the S or U grade, the student transcript includes the symbol # for courses taken on a pass/fail basis.
S (Satisfactory) and U (Unsatisfactory) grades are not used in computing the student’s grade-point average, but the grade of U may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress.
Students must be in good academic standing with their school/college to be eligible for the pass/fail grading option.
Undergraduates may elect to take one non-required course on a pass/fail basis each fall and spring semester and/or each summer term for a maximum of 16 credits total during their undergraduate careers.
The schools/colleges and/or departments may exclude certain courses from the pass/fail grading option and may impose additional restrictions on eligibility. Students are encouraged to consult with an advisor before requesting the pass/fail grading option to fully understand the implications.
Required courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis. Ultimately students are responsible for ensuring courses taken with the pass/fail grading basis are considered free electives in their degree programs. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an academic advisor before taking a course on a pass/fail grading basis. Required courses that are mistakenly taken on the pass/fail grading basis will not count for non-elective requirements even if they would normally count toward such requirements.
Each school or college is responsible for clearly communicating the definitions of “good academic standing” and “free elective” to their students.
The office responsible for academic policy exceptions in each school or college is authorized to make exceptions to the pass/fail grading policy.
For study abroad programs operated by the College of Engineering, courses taken abroad toward an engineering major will be posted as pass/fail. This occurs automatically and is not a student option; this practice is not covered or impacted by this policy.
This policy defines the parameters for use of Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) grades for graduate students.
The use of letter grades (A through F) is encouraged and recommended whenever assessment of performance permits. In certain advanced topics, seminar, and research courses, where lack of examinations and other performance criteria make letter grades inapplicable, the use of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades is permissible.
For all courses listed as research, the only permissible final grades are Satisfactory (S), Unsatisfactory (U). Though an Incomplete (I) grade may be assigned, a final grade must be submitted during the following term. If a P grade is assigned, it will remain until the instructor assigns a grade of S or U; all previously assigned P grades are to revert to an S or U upon assignment of the final grade in most cases. These courses will not count in the student’s graduate grade-point average (GPA).
In courses structured to offer the Satisfactory (S)/Unsatisfactory (U) grading option, a grade of S represents a corresponding letter grade of B or better while a grade of U represents a corresponding letter grade of BC or lower S and U grades are not used in computing the student’s grade-point average GPA (GPA), but the grade of U may impact the student’s satisfactory progress. S/U grades in courses taken for graduate credit satisfy the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, minor, and coursework (50%) credit requirements as well as the minimum or maximum credits required for enrollment each term. Unsatisfactory grades do not satisfy any Graduate School’s minimum credit requirements.
Tuition is assessed for S/U courses.
This policy defines the parameters for use of the pass/fail grading option for graduate students.
Pass/fail courses do not satisfy any Graduate School credit, coursework, or degree requirements, and do not fulfill minimum or maximum credits each term. Tuition is charged for pass/fail courses. For these reasons, very few graduate students choose the pass/fail option.
This policy only applies to students during their graduate careers. It only applies to courses that use the default A-F grading scale and that allow students to choose to take a course on a pass/fail basis.
Instructors are not formally notified when a student elects to take a course on the pass/fail grade basis. At the end of the course, the instructor will enter the final letter grade earned by the student on their grade roster, and the Office of the Registrar will convert the letter grade for a pass/fail student accordingly. A passing grade of S (Satisfactory) will be recorded when a letter grade of A through C is earned and a failing grade of U (Unsatisfactory) will be recorded when a letter grade of D or F is earned. In addition to the S or U grade, the student transcript includes the symbol # for courses taken on a pass/fail basis. S and U grades are not used in computing the student’s grade-point average (GPA), but the grade of U may impact the student’s satisfactory progress.
The following applies to graduate students who elect the pass/fail option:
Explanation of Grading Basis Options:
Consistent Course Information
Course Learning Outcomes Requirements
See Also: UW-1011 Policy on the Credit Hour
A new course does not need to be taught as a topics course prior to being proposed and approved with a permanent course number. If a topic title will be a regular offering in the curriculum, it must be created as a new course.
The decision to offer particular topics should be part of the regular process for establishing the department/program schedule of courses and should involve conversation with, and planning by, the department faculty members.
On an annual basis, each school or college will be provided with a list of topics courses that were offered through subject listings in their departments showing the number of times each topic has been offered. It is the responsibility of the school or college and their departments to review this list and determine whether there are courses being offered as a topic that should be proposed as a stand-alone course with a permanent number. It is recommended that a limit of being offered three (3) times within a 5-year period should be considered the standard.
This institution-wide assessment plan provides a framework for student learning assessment at UW–Madison. To ensure the quality of our students’ experience, we engage in ongoing, systematic, and integrated efforts to better understand and improve learning. This is what we mean by student learning assessment. Others may refer to this concept as evidenced-based learning. In any case, student learning assessment is the ongoing process of 1) defining clear, measurable learning goals, 2) ensuring that students engage in sufficient learning experiences to achieve these goals, 3) gathering evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations, and 4) using the results to validate or improve learning.
UW–Madison adopts the philosophy that assessment of learning should be an integrated, ongoing component of academic life and the student experience. Student learning takes place both within and outside of the classroom, and UW–Madison promotes assessment of student learning across students’ educational experiences. To this effect, UW–Madison considers the following guiding principles of assessment:
At UW–Madison, the Wisconsin Experience serves as an overarching framework across all academic and co-curricular programs for what is expected during a student’s tenure Through the Wisconsin Experience and guided by a set of learning goals referred to as the Essential Learning Outcomes(ELOs),1 UW–Madison seeks to develop in students the ability to engage in the world, to be creative problem solvers, to integrate empirical analysis and passion, to seek out and create new knowledge and technologies, and to adapt to new situations. The nature of these opportunities and how they are offered—through the integration of student-centered in-class and out-of-class learning experiences which are characterized by active and engaged learning—exemplifies the Wisconsin Experience and what is expected of UW–Madison graduates. (See Table 1. UW–Madison Essential Learning Outcomes.)
Faculty, academic departments, and schools/colleges are responsible for developing and implementing the curricula. As such, schools/colleges have appointed committees (such as academic planning and curricular committees) who regularly meet to review the curriculum and consider the results of assessment activities when developing suggestions for program improvement. Establishing departmental and co-curricular assessment plans helps to streamline this process and ensures an evidence-based approach to program quality.
The Office of the Provost, the University Council on Academic Affairs and Assessment (UCAAA)2, and the deans’ offices of the schools and colleges are jointly responsible for student learning assessment. Together these units collaborate to provide oversight and support for assessment activities.
The Office of the Provost maintains a Student Learning Assessment website intended for those at UW–Madison who lead or engage in assessment activities. The site serves as a resource for individuals to access information on activities around and best practices within the assessment of student learning. The Office of the Provost also provides professional development workshops and consultation to schools and colleges and other units to ensure student learning assessment is supported and an integral component of academic and co-curricular planning.
Conducting ongoing and systematic evaluation of student learning is an integral component of high-quality academic and co-curricular programs. At UW–Madison, student learning assessment considers what students are expected to learn, where in the curriculum these learning experiences are provided, how it is known that students are learning, and how and when evidence of learning is utilized to validate or make improvements to programs.
As such, every academic program is expected to have active assessment plans in place, conduct at least one assessment activity each year and report annually to the Office of the Provost, including plans for improvement.
Specifically, assessment plans should specify at least 3-5 learning goals, identify assessment strategies to determine how students are meeting these learning expectations. Assessment reports include a review and summary of the findings. A Basic Assessment Plan for academic programs is intended as a guide for program faculty and staff who are developing their assessment plans.
Program faculty and staff are required to utilize at least some direct measures of student learning (embedded questioning, capstone assignments evaluated with rubrics, standardized testing, portfolio reviews, etc.). They may also make use of indirect methods (surveying graduating students, alumni, and employers, etc.) of assessment to document whether or not students meet the stated learning goals. Indirect methods are often seen as easier to use but they must be complemented by direct methods.
The assessment of student learning goals at the program level also informs institution-level assessment activities. The Office of the Provost, the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research coordinate institution-level activities, including administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Post-Graduation Plan Survey, and other institution-level assessment efforts in accordance with UW System and Board of Regent policies and accreditation standards set forth by the Higher Learning Commission. Institutional efforts also include ongoing and systematic documentation of the Wisconsin Experience and the Essential Learning Outcomes.
UW-Madison’s General Education assessment reflects a further institution-level assessment of student learning. The general education program was created to ensure that every baccalaureate student at UW–Madison acquires the foundation of an undergraduate education which includes elements for living a productive life, being citizens of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a changing world.
UW–Madison’s General Education includes four foundational domains for undergraduate education:
These foundational domains provide for breadth across the humanities and arts, social studies, and natural sciences; competence in communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills appropriate for a university-educated person; and investigation of the issues inherent to living in a culturally diverse society. Importantly, UW-Madison’s General Education program aligns with the Wisconsin Experience and Essential Learning Outcomes framework, especially as it relates to providing students with foundational intellectual and practical skills.
The University General Education Committee (UGEC) oversees the campus-wide undergraduate general education program, management of its requirements and assessment of the general education student learning outcomes, and reports to shared governance through the University Academic Planning Council.
The Graduate School and the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) exercise the authority of the graduate faculty with respect to establishing, reviewing, and modifying graduate degree programs, named options, doctoral minors, graduate/professional certificates, and capstone certificates. As part of its duties, GFEC, in collaboration with the Graduate School leadership, engages in strategic planning discussions. Such discussions include the articulation of broad graduate student learning goals that may be modified and extended by academic programs. In Fall 2014 the Graduate School and the Graduate Executive Committee adopted a set of graduate-level learning goals appropriate to distinguish a graduate education from the undergraduate experience. Assessment of student learning at the graduate level is, ultimately, articulated and carried out in the individual academic programs (UW-Madison Graduate Learning Goals, Appendix B).
UW–Madison offers a wide range of academic programs at various levels (including bachelor’s, master’s, certificate, professional, and doctoral levels) and within many different areas of specialty. Each degree program is expected to articulate and adopt student learning goals, identify where in the curriculum the learning takes place, and develop assessment plans that align with these learning goals. Further, each academic program is expected to engage in at least one assessment activity each year, report findings, and develop improvement plans as needed. Priority should be given to activities based on direct measures of student learning. (See the UW-Madison 2015-17 Timeline for Program-level Assessment, App. C).
All academic programs (major/degree/co-curricular) will:
Program faculty/staff are required to document assessment activity and annually report to the Office of the Provost.
Co-curricular life plays an important role in the student experience at UW–Madison. Students engage in activities that highlight, integrate, and enhance formal academic learning. As such, assessment planning also includes the identification of the range of co-curricular educational experiences through which students demonstrate learning. Thus, co-curricular units and programs set priorities including learning goals, assess these goals, and report on progress annually.
In addition, academic departments are encouraged to collaborate with co-curricular programs to identify instances in which students demonstrate learning related to the articulated program-level learning goals. Assessment activities designed around these out-of-classroom experiences are included in the program’s annual assessment report. For example, student leadership activities, student governance work, or volunteer opportunities in which students meet intended learning expectations often support academic learning goals.
Faculty are responsible for guiding and monitoring student learning throughout the academic program beginning at the course level. When designing new courses or planning current offerings, faculty establish course goals and course-level student learning outcomes which advance some aspect of the academic program outcomes. All courses offered at UW–Madison must have course syllabi with course objectives and student learning goals clearly articulated. Information about the UW–Madison course approval process can be found on the Academic Planning and Institutional Research website.
Courses are the unit in which most students directly experience academic programs and are the building blocks of much of the academic experience. In addition to an expectation for academic programs to have learning goals, for-credit courses are also expected to have learning goals. Faculty are required to articulate in their syllabus what they expect students to learn (to know or be able to do) from the course. The learning goals for courses should align with and accumulate to a full set of learning goals for the academic program.
UW–Madison has a long history of conducting regular reviews of academic programs as outlined in the UW–Madison Academic Program Review Guidelines. Academic programs must be reviewed at least once every 10 years under University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) policy and Board of Regents policy. All new academic programs must be reviewed five years after implementation. The purpose of program review is to examine strengths and challenges, to celebrate accomplishments, and to reflect on, and plan for, the future. Program review is a platform for exploring ways to maintain and enhance the academic quality of a range of academic activities. This review should be a natural outcome of an ongoing, program-level assessment process. A plan for assessing student learning and the student experience is required as part of the new program proposal and is expected to be implemented with the initiation of the program. Program review is to be student-focused and, through regular assessment activities, report on issues related to student learning and the student experience. More information about the program review process can be found on the Academic Planning and Institutional Research website.
1 ELOs were developed from several national surveys done by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) with employers, faculty, staff and alumni, asking the question, “What qualities and skills do you want in college graduates?”
2 The UCAAA, made up largely of school/college associate deans, meets periodically each academic year to discuss issues related to academic planning, programs, and policies including accreditation, assessment, curricular development, reporting strategies, and other emerging educational trends.
In the Criteria for Accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission requires "clearly stated goals for student learning and effective processes for assessment of student learning and achievement of learning goals." For course learning outcomes, the syllabus is the place where the goals and assessment are explained.
According to the UW-Madison Institutional Assessment Plan, “All courses offered at UW-Madison must have course syllabi with course objectives and student learning goals clearly articulated.”
These learning outcomes are included in the proposal for a new course and may subsequently be updated through the course change proposal process. If a course is part of the requirements for a particular degree/major or certificate, one or more of the learning outcomes could relate to the program learning outcomes.
The established course learning outcomes must be included on the syllabus each time offered.
Course learning outcomes must:
After the initial implementation of Lumen Programs, Student Learning Assessment (SLA) and Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research (DAPIR) offices received feedback that the learning outcomes process was confusing. SLA and DAPIR created a roles and responsibilities document for Lumen Programs and determined it would be helpful for one in Lumen Courses as well. The Clarification of Guidelines and Roles for Learning Outcomes in Lumen Courses (pdf) document explains the basic principles for learning outcomes in Lumen Courses and the role of SLA and DAPIR.
|Keywords||cross-listing, crosslist, crosslisting, cross-list, title, transcript title, description, course, grading basis, policy, requisite, prerequisite, corequisite, credits, variable credits, topics, topic courses, designations, attributes, graduate, L&S level, general education, ethnic studies, comm a, comm b, communication a, communication b, course learning outcomes, clo, independent study, directed study, thesis course||Doc ID||108469|
|Owner||Melissa S.||Group||Academic Planning|
|Created||2021-01-20 11:23 CST||Updated||2023-10-19 14:02 CST|
|Feedback||0 0 Comment Suggest a new document|