Course Support Policy

Please see the course support policy, attached and listed below.

Title: SPS Course Support Policy

Responsible Unit: Faculty Affairs

Approval by: Academic Excellence Committee, Dean’s Council

Effective Date: May 1, 2019

Policy

Associates (junior faculty members) or Teaching Assistants (TAs) may be hired to help support the Lecturer in the day-to-day activities related to their course, if the course meets the necessary enrollment thresholds for its Course Type category. All courses are automatically classified as standard courses unless a request for reclassification has been submitted by the Academic Director and approved by Faculty Affairs.

Justifications will be approved per course, and will not require subsequent approvals unless otherwise stated in the decision (e.g. a course may be approved for a lower threshold for 1 semester only, and then require evaluation and re-approval for semesters moving forward). If a course is redesigned, it will revert back to the standard classification and require review and approval for lower support thresholds.

Procedure for submitting requests for reclassification:

  • Academic Directors (or program support staff) submit a justification to spsfacultyaffairs@columbia.edu explaining why the course should qualify for a lower threshold. Justifications should specifically reference the course structure, content, and/or assignments that significantly increase a Lecturer’s workload to the point of needing additional support. Please note that justifications for reclassification always follow a course, and not a specific lecturer.
    • Justifications should be submitted during the semester planning process, and no later than 2 months before the semester begins.
    • Lecturers are expected to commit 8-10 hours per week for each course they are teaching. Because the school operates on a scholar-practitioner model, most of our faculty hold demanding full-time positions – this alone is not a valid justification for increased support. Lecturers unable to commit to the expectations of the position should consider teaching with a Co-Lecturer model.
  • Faculty Affairs will review each request in collaboration with Arts & Sciences.
  • A final decision will be communicated to the program within 1 week.

Grounds for Reclassification:

Technical: Courses in which technical content (e.g. math or coding) will be evaluated line-by-line. These courses require additional support to assist in the grading and timely feedback for students. Courses in which technical content is evaluated by discrete item testing (e.g. multiple choice exams, self-graded quizzes) should not be reclassified.

Intensive: Courses that include significant written work that requires detailed feedback on both the substance and style of writing should be considered for reclassification. In these courses, the majority of student grade is determined by major writing assignments.

High-Contact: Courses that require significant support for live class sessions may be considered for reclassification. Courses that require simulations, role plays, one-on-one instructor support, or moderated team meetings would fall into this category.

Associate Contract Cancellation:
Associate assignments are contingent on enrollment and can be canceled up until one week prior to the first day of the semester. Because students are still able to add/drop classes after this point in time, courses within 10% of the enrollment threshold can keep their Associate support. In the event that an Associate is assigned to a course section that is not within 10% of the threshold one week before the first day of the semester, the job offer will be rescinded and the faculty appointment will be canceled.

Exceptions

There are a few scenarios outside of the classifications above that qualify for Associate support regardless of enrollment:

  • Face-to-face courses taught by an Academic Director
  • Courses running for the first time after development. First time Associates should not be assigned to these courses, unless the course is part of a new program. Courses that are niche-specific, which no current faculty would be able to support the course can also be permitted to hire a new Associate.