Last updated 09/04/20
Student-Facilitated Courses (Including DeCals)
NOTE: SPRING 2021 PROPOSALS: As the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders continue, the Academic Senate will begin accepting student-facilitated course proposals (including DeCals) for Spring 2021 via online submission of a Google Form. More information regarding this submission process will be provided soon.
Students will be expected to submit the following:
a) The completed course proposal form (including the unit value worksheet). This will need to include signatures from the instructor of record and department chair. DocuSign and similar electronic signatures are acceptable.
b) A fully developed syllabus.
c) The faculty letter of support.
The deadline for submission of proposals to be offered in Spring 2021 is Wednesday, November 11, 2020.
Individual department deadlines usually fall before COCI’s deadline. Late submissions, if approved by the sponsoring department, must be accompanied by a letter from the department chair or dean (or their designate) clearly laying out the reasons for the lateness. Email is acceptable.
Any questions about this temporary submission process should be directed to: email@example.com
All requirements for student-facilitated courses and proposals remain the same as from previous semesters. See below.
COCI allows students to facilitate courses offered under the numbers 98 and 198 (directed/organized group study). These are offered as Passed / Not Passed (P/NP). Proposals for such courses must be reviewed and approved by an instructor of record and department chair, and then a paper copy of the approved proposal must be submitted to COCI. COCI will provide feedback only if there is an issue or question about the proposal.
Spring 2021: The deadline for submission of proposals to be offered in Spring 2021 is Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (One month before the end of instruction in the preceding semester.)
The course proposal form must be completed each semester by the sponsoring department for every student-facilitated 98 or 198 course offered for academic credit. The following must be submitted to the Academic Senate in hard copy (paper):
- Course proposal form - The form, unit value worksheet, instructions, and three checklists are combined into a course proposal packet that must be completed entirely, including all relevant signatures.
- Fully developed syllabus - A fully developed syllabus will include at least the following: an outline of course content, a reading list, statement of frequency of class meetings, clear description of assignments and requirements for passing the class, key learning outcomes, method(s) of instruction, and method(s) of evaluation of student performance.
An example of a fully developed syllabus can be found at the Center for Teaching & Learning. Additional resources may be found at the website for Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training & Resources (UCFTR).
- Unit value worksheet - The worksheet to calculate workload and resultant unit value is available for download. Beginning for courses offered in fall 2015, this worksheet is required to be submitted to the Academic Senate.
Unit value worksheet PDF (open and fill out in Acrobat Reader, then print)
Unit value worksheet Word version (can be printed and filled out by hand)
When completing the unit value worksheet ensure that the minimum total work hours are equivalent to the unit value of the course (e.g.: there are at least 45 hours for a 1 unit course). Also, ensure that any requirements outlined in the worksheet are explained fully in the course syllabus.
- Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support – A letter of support from the instructor of record must be provided for each course the instructor is sponsoring. The letter should address the five questions explaining the role and relationship the instructor has with the course. The letter should be written on department letterhead and signed by the instructor of record. This is required for all student-facilitated course proposals starting spring 2018.
COCI expects that students interested in facilitating a course have taken serious consideration of the time and responsibility required for preparing and facilitating a course. All students should review and affirm that each item on the Student Checklist in the Course Proposal Form has been addressed before facilitating a course.
Special Studies Website – Provides overview information about Special Studies 98/198 courses as part of undergraduate education at Berkeley.
DeCal – Undergraduate student facilitators who wish to advertise their courses through DeCal should consult the DeCal website. Be aware that the DeCal student organization has different deadlines and requirements than the Academic Senate.
FAQ about Student-Facilitated Courses – Provides answers to some of the more frequently asked questions.
Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training & Resources (UCFTR) Website - Provides a volume of information for training workshops, policies, and tools to support students developing their own course.
Instructor of Record
Instructors of record are expected to work with student facilitators to develop courses that are academic in nature and meet workload requirements, supervise the student facilitators, and submit final grades (among other requirements). See the Faculty Checklist in the Course Proposal Form for a detailed checklist of responsibilities for the instructor of record.
FAQ for instructors of record - COCI has created a frequently asked questions document specifically for instructors who are considering sponsoring a student-facilitated course. COCI strongly recommends that instructors review this document before agreeing to sponsor a student-facilitated course.
Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support – A letter of support from the instructor of record must be provided for each course the instructor is sponsoring. The letter should address the five questions explaining the role and relationship the instructor has with the course. The letter should be written on department letterhead and signed by the instructor of record. This is required for all student-facilitated course proposals starting spring 2018.
COCI expects department chairs ensure that instructors of record are providing appropriate supervision, that courses have academic requirements, and that resources and administrative support are available to student facilitators. See the Department Chair Checklist in the Course Proposal Form for a detailed checklist laying out the responsibilities of the sponsoring department.
Departmental application form – This sample document is similar to ones used by departments across campus. This form is intended to be edited/customized for each department. Sections in blue/brackets must be edited; additional fields or information can be added as desired. This form is not required by the Academic Senate and is only for department use.
COCI Memo on Student-Facilitated Courses and Changes to Proposals – Distributed in 2017, this letter provides an overview of changes to the forms and instructions for student-facilitated course proposals. Effective spring 2018 these proposals must now be accompanied with a Faculty Sponsor Letter and confirmation of student-facilitators having completed training with the Student Learning Center’s Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training and Resources (UCFTR) unit.
COCI Communication to Departments about Student-Facilitated Courses – Distributed to campus in 2015, this letter provides an overview of department and instructor responsibilities for student-facilitated courses.
COCI Memo about Student-Facilitated Courses and Student Groups – Distributed in 2013, this letter provides an overview of COCI’s recommendations for student-facilitated courses that include fundraising or partnership with outside organizations as part of the course content.
Best Practice Suggestions for Academic Departments
What follows below is a compilation of possible ways to organize the proposal, approval, and sponsorship of student-facilitated courses (including DeCals) within a department. It is the academic unit’s responsibility to oversee and manage these courses just as they would do with any other instructor-led course. The following ideas were derived from a survey of campus departments. If your unit has a practice that you would like to share, please email Sumali Tuchrello, reference this section of the website, and share your unit’s practice. The Academic Senate does not require that any of these conditions or limitations be implemented.
Departments may want to consider the following limitations for student-facilitated courses:
Require subject matter to be relevant/related to the department. Ask potential facilitators to explain how the course fits in with other offerings. For example, one department specifies that all courses must have an “academic purpose,” and may not advocate for a specific political or ideological position.
Limit the total number of student-facilitated courses offered by a department each semester. Various departments on campus limit the number to one, five, or ten courses per semester that they are willing to sponsor. A department could limit the number of courses that are not directly related to the field. The department would decide whether applications would be accepted on a “first come, first served” basis or by some other process.
Limit the number of units a course may be offered for. Most departments currently have 98 and 198 courses approved for 1-3 units. Most student-facilitated courses are offered at 1- or 2-units. If the unit value were to be higher, the department might want to consider requiring special justification. Additionally, a department could require that all students do the same work and receive the same number of units (i.e., there would be no variable unit courses).
Limit the number of times that a course may be offered (say, once or twice every five years). If, for example, an enrichment course is offered more than that, it could be continued as an extracurricular activity or added to the department’s regular offering of instructor-led courses.
Set a limit for the number of students that may enroll in a single course.
Require a minimum number of class meetings (e.g., thirteen classes held across thirteen weeks), a minimum number of meeting hours per week (one or two hours), or require that class attendance begin during the first week of instruction.
Departments may want to consider requiring some of the following conditions for student course facilitators:
Facilitator must: be a full-time enrolled student/be in good academic standing/have a minimum GPA/provide a transcript
Facilitator must have junior or senior standing/be a declared major in the department
Facilitator must provide a berkeley.edu email address
Facilitator must provide a summary of qualifications to facilitate the course
Limited number of facilitators per course (e.g., two facilitators total); one must be the primary contact
Facilitators may only facilitate one course per semester
Course must be facilitated by the student who received approval (i.e., facilitators may not switch)
Instructors of record (faculty sponsors) could be limited by the following conditions:
Instructors may only sponsor one student-facilitated course per semester (see Berkeley Division Regulation A205)
Instructors must be teaching a course in the department in the same semester as the student-facilitated course they are sponsoring (i.e., not on sabbatical or leave)
Instructors are required to review the syllabus/sign the proposal form before/after the proposal is submitted to the department staff
Instructors are required to hold face-to-face check-in meetings with student facilitators a certain number of times a semester (e.g., three check-in meetings)
Instructors are required to attend a certain number of class meetings (e.g., three during the semester)
Departments should establish and publicize a procedure for review and approval of student-facilitated courses. The procedures should include the following components:
Deadline. Ideally, the deadline should be well before COCI’s deadline for submission (one month before the end of the immediately preceding semester). The department may set a policy of accepting late submissions or not, and if so, under what circumstances.
Required materials. At a minimum, the proposal must include a completed proposal form, fully developed syllabus, completed unit value worksheet, and a letter of support from the instructor of record. The department may also require additional materials such as student transcript, statement of interest, or an application form. The department may set a policy of not accepting any incomplete proposals.
Workflow. The order of contact should be set in place so that student facilitators will know what their responsibilities are and what the department’s are. The following is an example of a possible workflow:
Student facilitator comes up with an idea for a course and writes up a proposal/syllabus.
Student facilitator meets with an adviser to discuss the proposal. The facilitator should be informed of all relevant rules (e.g., not enrolling in the course but in a 199, required training via UCFTR sponsored workshop or course).
Student facilitator approaches an instructor in the department, who agrees to serve as instructor of record. The two work together to improve the proposal/syllabus. The instructor of record signs the proposal form (and application form) indicating that he or she has reviewed and approved it.
Student facilitator turns in the proposal to the department staff person (this person/location should be identified in each department’s procedures).
The department staff should carefully review the entire proposal, paying attention to the checklists, syllabus guidelines, COCI regulations, etc. If there are any problems or concerns, the department staff should go back to the student facilitator and instructor of record to correct them.
Once the proposal is finalized, the department staff person should provide the proposal to the department chair (or their designate) for review and approval (signature).
Once the proposal has been approved by the chair/dean, the department staff should inform the student facilitator and instructor of record that the course has been approved, and make room reservations. The staff person should make the required copies, including one to be submitted to the Academic Senate (COCI). The department is responsible for submitting the proposal to COCI. The student facilitator should be provided with a copy of the proposal and it is their responsibility to submit the proposal to the DeCal Student Board office, if they choose to do so. The department may wish to set a timeline for notifying student facilitators about next steps (e.g., no more than two weeks following the submission deadline). Remember, the Academic Senate will not provide any feedback on submitted proposals unless there are questions.
Departments should set up procedures in case of any changes to the course.
Best Practice Suggested Resources
Many academic departments have put in practice their own forms or processes that they require of students proposing student-facilitated courses. Below are some of their tools you may want to also consider using. They are shared with gratitude to the originating department for taking the time to create the resource:
- Sample Syllabus Template – Mechanical Engineering
- Sample Classroom and Enrollment Management Guide - Computer Science
- Sample Instructional Email for Submission Deadline - School of Public Health
- Department Application for Student-Facilitated (98/198) Course - Social Welfare
- Department Application for Student-Facilitated (98/198) Course - Psychology
- Department Application for Student-Facilitated (98/198) Course - School of Public Health
- CNR DeCals - College of Natural Resources
- Facilitating DeCal Courses - Psychology
- Special Studies Courses - Social Welfare
NOTE: The above templates and links are samples only. Students should refer to their sponsoring department for most current documents and guidelines.