Teaching and Qualifications for Teaching

Policy number: 2.2

Policy section: Academic Affairs

Revised Date: December 16, 2019

1.  Policy Statement

It is the policy of the University to employ competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the institution’s core mission of teaching, research/creative activity, and service.

2.  Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set forth the rights and responsibilities of faculty in the classroom and the necessary qualifications for teaching University courses.

3.  Classroom Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Protection of Free Inquiry – Every teacher shall be entitled to freedom in the classroom in the discussion of his/her subject. However, the instructor should not take advantage of academic position by introducing into the classroom irrelevant subjects or provocative discussions that do not foster the growth of student’s critical faculties and have no relation to course subject matter. The instructor should create an environment that fosters respect for academic perspectives emerging from differences in racial, gender, economic, ethnic, religious, sexual, or political identity.
  2. Protection of Academic Honesty – The faculty has the responsibility for encouraging and maintaining an atmosphere of academic honesty by being certain that students are aware of the value of it and know the penalties for departing from it. Faculty should not only actively encourage student honesty and discourage dishonesty, but also assist students in avoiding the temptation to dishonest actions by clearly defining limits on cooperative assignments, the use of class notes, etc. The faculty is responsible for complying with the Honor Code of the University or in the case of Perkins School of Theology and the Dedman School of Law, the codes of the respective schools.
  3. Student Evaluation – The grading policy for the course must be clearly communicated to the students through the syllabus. The grade of a student in any course is determined by the instructor of the course doing so honestly, fairly, and without bias, using the appropriate criteria and following stated procedures.

4.  Class Attendance

Faculty have an obligation to meet all classes according to the published calendars of the University. If a faculty member must miss a scheduled class (e.g., to attend a research conference), the faculty member should make arrangements to cover or reschedule any class missed. If the faculty member will miss more than a few classes, the absence of the faculty member and the plan for covering the classes should be approved in advance by the Dean. Final course examinations shall be given by the faculty member in all courses where they are appropriate at the time specified in the official examination schedule. Exceptions to the examination schedule must be approved by the Dean in consultation with the Office of the Provost.

5.  Faculty Qualifications for Teaching

The University subscribes to the criteria statements made by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (“SACSCOC”) for faculty qualifications to teach undergraduate and graduate courses.

When determining acceptable qualifications for its faculty -- both full-time and part-time faculty -- the University gives primary consideration to a faculty member's highest earned degree in accord with the guidelines listed below. It also considers and evaluates, as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, relevant course work as part of or in addition to previous degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes specific to the course being taught. Proper documentation will be maintained in the Provost's Office regarding the qualifications of all its faculty.

Credential Guidelines (“SACSCOC”)

  1. Faculty teaching undergraduate courses should have a doctorate or master’s degree in the teaching discipline or master’s degree with a concentration in the teaching discipline (a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline).
  2. Faculty teaching graduate and post-baccalaureate course work should have a doctorate or terminal degree in the discipline or a related discipline.
  3. Graduate students teaching undergraduate courses should have a master’s degree or the equivalent in the teaching discipline, direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned and periodic evaluations. A more complete discussion of graduate students teaching undergraduate courses can be found in the next two sections.

For faculty that do not meet the guidelines in (a) and (b) above, it is necessary to indicate additional qualifications such as diplomas or certificates earned (with discipline indicated), related work or professional experience, licensure and certifications, continuous documented excellence in teaching, honors and awards, scholarly publications and presented papers, and other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and achievement of student learning. There should also be a clear description of the relationship between these qualifications and the course content.

Faculty credentials and qualifications are reviewed by the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs in consultation with the Associate Provost for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness. Approval of a potential faculty member’s credentials and qualifications is required before a faculty member may teach a course. All faculty must submit a curriculum vitae and an official transcript of the highest degree awarded.

6.  Graduate Student Qualifications for Teaching

The University recognizes that graduate students pursuing academic positions need opportunities to develop their teaching skills and have full responsibility for teaching a class. These graduate students, who are the Instructors of Record for courses, are called Graduate Student Instructors (“GSI”) and must be under the supervision of tenured faculty or exceptional full-time teaching faculty.

University Guidelines

  1. Any GSI must have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. (completed all coursework for their degree and passed the preliminary or qualifying exams) or must already hold a master’s degree in the field of instruction.
  2. The GSI must demonstrate proficiency in English as determined by the Department Chair.
  3. The GSI must have received pedagogical training.
  4. GSIs may not teach any course above the 2000 level without express permission from the Office of the Provost. When proposing a GSI for an upper level undergraduate course, the Department Chair should address issues such as the expertise of the GSI with regards to course content, the appropriateness of teaching upper level courses in the discipline, and any past teaching experience and course evaluations. GSIs may not teach graduate courses (6000 level and above).
  5. No GSI should be responsible for a course with more than 35 students.
  6. No GSI should be responsible for more than one course or one section of any course in a given semester.
  7. Any course with a GSI must have a Supervisory Instructor for the course. The duties of the Supervisory Instructor are discussed below.

Any exceptions to the above guidelines must be approved by the Provost and satisfy “SACSCOC” credentialing guidelines.

7.  Responsibilities of the Supervisory Instructor

The Supervisory Instructor (tenured faculty member in the discipline or Senior Lecturer or the equivalent) should meet with the GSI on a regular basis. The responsibilities of the Supervisory Instructor are outlined below:

  1. The Supervisory Instructor meets with the GSI prior to the beginning of the course to examine the syllabus and course requirements. The syllabus should meet University standards by stating the learning outcomes for the course, attendance policy, grading policy, office hours of the GSI, other syllabi statements or information as required by the Provost, the name of the Supervisory Instructor, and contact information for both the GSI and Supervisory Instructor. The GSI is listed as the Primary Instructor for the course and the supervisor should be listed as the Supervisory Instructor for the course.
  2. The Supervisory Instructor should visit the class during the first week and at least once more during the semester.
  3. The Supervisory Instructor should review all exams before they are given to students.
  4. The Supervisory Instructor should meet with the GSI at the end of the semester (with course evaluations) and debrief. Following the debriefing, the supervisor must provide to the Department Chair and Associate Dean a written evaluation of the GSI’s performance.

If problems arise during the semester that cannot be easily solved by the Supervisory Instructor, the Supervisory Instructor must notify the Department Chair and meet with the GSI to work out a plan to rectify the situation. GSIs must agree to abide by the department’s oversight plan. If the situation does not improve, the Chair, in consultation with the Supervisory Instructor, may choose to replace the GSI. The Supervisory Instructor must be prepared to take over the instruction of the course for the remainder of the semester at the request of the Chair or Dean. If this assignment conflicts with the Supervisory Instructor’s teaching schedule the Chair must be willing to appoint another faculty member to finish teaching the course.

8.  Questions

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Provost.

Revised: December 16, 2019

Adopted: June 1, 1994