Who May Teach Directed/Independent Study Courses in L&S?
Instruction in Directed Study courses is subject to campus level policy (Policy on Directed/Independent Study for Undergraduates ), which discusses such issues as limits on the number of directed study credits an individual may supervise, prohibits the use of directed study numbers for group instruction, and expresses the expectation that individual learning plans are filed with the department/program. This policy also notes that the determination of who is eligible to teach directed study is determined by the faculty responsible for the subject listing in which the credit will be offered. As a result, policies vary: some departments/programs allow only faculty to supervise independent study; some allow long-term and short-term instructional academic staff and/or emeritus faculty/staff to take on this role. In all cases, Directed and Independent Study instructors must have appropriate academic credentials to teach the defined course,* and they must be employed in an instructional capacity. These instructional responsibilities are taken on by faculty and staff as a volunteer activity or as part of the overall teaching load; there is no expectation of increased remuneration for such activity.
This document answers questions about who may teach directed/independent study courses.
Once the department/program has determined that an individual is qualified to supervise a Directed Study experience, the department/program should ensure that the individual has a valid instructor ID and that the student registers for the course using that instructor's ID. (All instructors listed in the Schedule of Courses must have an active instructional appointment.) In the event that an instructor overseeing an independent study is not a member of (or payrolled through) the department in which the student hopes to register, his or her ID may be entered into the list of instructors via usual Curricular Services procedures (i.e., adding a section using that instructor's ID, through which the student would register). New instructors must be entered into the Integrated Appointment Data System (IADS) before their names can be added to the course in the SIS database. Departments should work with department and college-level human resource staff to initiate the process of adding instructors into IADS. If the individual is not on the payroll (as may be the case with emeritus faculty or staff), this may mean establishing a formal relationship with that person as a volunteer or via a short-term zero-dollar or honorary appointment.
These processes are intended to ensure that the student record accurately reflects with whom she or he studied, and that the university has an accurate record of instructional activity and instructors at work within the department and college. It is the department's responsibility to maintain accurate lists of who is allowed to teach Directed Study, and departments should remove inactive short term instructors from the lists of instructors teaching each semester.
Assignment of Instructional Responsibility for Directed Study
In recent years, a variety of interest groups have developed materials that advise students about how to pursue internships or service opportunities when they participate in the groups’ political, social awareness, or other activities. These groups vary in size and scope: some resemble political action groups; they may or may not be related to university or academic activities; they may be connected to local, state-wide, or national organizations; and, finally, their goals may not be easily discerned by outsiders (instructors or students). All seek to harness students’ personal engagement on particular topics by creating opportunities for them to take action.
The L&S Curriculum Committee and College hold no particular opinion regarding these activities, per se; however, some of these entities encourage students to "earn college credit" for their work by asking members of the faculty to supervise Directed and Independent Study experiences. Some of these groups offer to assist the faculty in designing internship projects, overseeing student performance, and even go so far as to offer to evaluate students and recommend grades.
The L&S Curriculum Committee wishes to remind all parties that each of these activities is the responsibility of the faculty or staff member who oversees the student’s learning experience. It is always the responsibility of the faculty to ensure that credit awarded is linked to instructional activity and to projects appropriate to a UW-Madison learning experience. The decision to oversee any Directed or Independent Study course is made at the discretion of the instructor. Any instructor who is approached with a request to participate in one of these arrangements may accept or decline the request; however, if she or he agrees to participate, the instructor is expected to:
- establish the instructional criteria for the credit awarded
- define the instructional contact required
- approve the student projects (which should, of course, emphasize the learning experience and not merely the act of volunteering).
Please refer to L&S Undergraduate Directed/Independent Study Course Guidelines for more information.
* Higher Learning Commission "Assumed Practices" hold that individuals who teach students enrolled in baccalaureate programs must have a minimum of a master's degree. Individuals teaching at a graduate level must hold a doctoral or terminal degree; if they are teaching outside the field in which they received their degrees, they must have completed a minimum of 18 credits of graduate-level work in that discipline. If an individual who lacks these credentials is deemed to be qualified to teach, the case for allowing that individual to teach must be made and carefully documented.