Who May Teach Directed/Independent Study Courses in L&S?

This document answers questions about who may teach directed/independent study courses.

It is up to individual academic departments and programs to determine who may oversee Directed and Independent Study courses within their Timetable subject listings. 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 category.  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.

Once the department/program has determined that the faculty will allow a particular individual 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. Doing so not only ensures that the student record accurately reflects with whom she or he studied, but also 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; at a minimum, departments should remove inactive short term instructors from the lists of instructors teaching each semester.

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 simply be entered into the list of instructors via usual Timetable 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.

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). 
The instructor is responsible for evaluation of student work performed, and determines the appropriate grade. Students who participate in these activities should be informed that these instructional responsibilities will not be delegated to others.

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.

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Keywords:199, 299,399,499,599,699, 198, 298,398,498,598,698, grades   Doc ID:23745
Owner:Elaine K.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2012-04-12 12:44 CDTUpdated:2016-10-03 15:17 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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