Before you submit your January Term 2015 Course Proposal Form, we request that you review the following information:

Guidelines for January Term Courses

  • Completed forms are due on Monday, March 31, 2014.
  • Because January Term courses receive four units of transfer credit (a regular semester is worth only 3.5), at least 10 hours per week of formal classroom instruction is an absolute requirement. (Please factor in at least double time for laboratory, field work and studio activity.) The ten hours of formal classroom instruction does not count preparation, writing essays, viewing films, etc. The last point deserves repeating: viewing of films, like reading in preparation for class, should not count as class time.
  • Normally, January Term classes meet four days per week, though that is not an absolute requirement. Justified exceptions to this schedule may be approved by the January Term Committee. Classes meeting five days per week may be held in any time slot, though the late afternoon time for those classes is often unpopular with students.
  • The course proposal form includes a section on time preference and room needs. If space allows, more extended time slots for studio or lab courses may be arranged by calling the Jan Term Office and the Registrar. Media rooms and computer labs are always in great demand, and we try to assign them on a first-come basis provided you need ALL the technology in the room. (If you only need a VCR, you won't be assigned to a GV room). We do our best to match instructors with the best possible room for their class, but you should plan on being as flexible as possible.
  • For a class to be listed as upper division it must meet particular standards developed by the Curriculum Committee. Upper division courses are characterized by at least two of the following four criteria:
    • have college-level prerequisites;
    • focus on a particular topic or require an in-depth study of a subject rather than a survey or introduction, and require that the necessary introductory study has been completed;
    • demand a readiness and maturity characteristic of students with successful prior college experience, with skills in reading, writing and discussion of demonstrable rigor and complexity;
    • include course objectives which entail high levels of cognitive, affective or psychomotor achievement.

    Course proposals which do not supply a rationale for upper division status will be classified as lower division.

  • Each instructor offering a lower division course is asked to reserve at least five places for freshmen. Freshmen-only classes are welcome.
  • Jan Term courses are intended to be non-departmental and may not be used to satisfy other requirements. A course may be given a departmental designation only by special approval of the Jan Term Committee for specific and extraordinary reasons. Hence, unless a course is approved to have such a departmental designation, a course's title should not be identical to or interpretable as being the same as one offered for departmental credit in a regular semester.
  • Course descriptions must be complete and accurate.
  • Assessment of prior January Term students evaluations are considered in the review of proposals.
  • Travel class proposals must meet the specified criteria set by the Committee. Travel courses must be designed for early registration, usually the last week of September.
  • All courses should require a formal writing assignment and either a final project/exam or final essay. (Provide details)
  • Adjunct and part-time faculty members: Please be aware that the January Term Committee makes recommendations about individual courses, but that the authorization for any part-time person to teach must come from your respective Dean. Our invitation for you to submit course proposals, therefore, does not constitute any sort of contractual authorization. If you wish to clarify your status further before submitting a proposal, please contact your Dean's office, but be advised that decisions on accepting requests by part-time faculty to teach in January often cannot be made for some months.

Co-Curricular Activities

As you design your course, the January Term Committee requests that you consider ways that co-curricular events can contribute to the success of your course and the intellectual range of your students. We have a modest budget for speakers, panel discussions, films, dramatic performances, etc. Most of the events which we sponsor are suggested by faculty and grow out of the subjects of their courses.

The variety and quality of these events help to create the special atmosphere of the campus during January and remind students that the life of the mind can be entertaining as well as enriching. So we request that instructors either incorporate such events into their courses or require students to attend at least two of the events held during Jan Term.

Course Fees

The College does not permit faculty to collect fees "directly " from students on their own -- fees must be billed to the students and collected by the business office. You must charge a course fee if you plan to be reimbursed for expenses such as photocopying, guest speakers, transportation, readers, rentals, entrance fees, office supplies, etc. Please do not list fees of less than $5.00 per student.

It may be early in your planning for you to have an exact figure in mind to list in the catalog, but please estimate as closely as you can. You will have a chance to confirm or revise that fee by the end of July. Also, please list examples of how you will use the money collected, e.g., photocopying, guest speakers, field trips, video rentals. You must save your receipts to be reimbursed, so please keep track of your expenses.

The January Term office does not reimburse faculty for the purchase of books or DVDs used in their class.  If you need additional materials (books or DVDs) purchased for the library to support your January Term class, please let your subject area librarian know.  They need adequate time to order, catalog and process books and media before the session begins.  If you are not sure who your librarian is, check out the library website.

Criteria for Travel Course Selection

The following criteria will be considered in the approval of travel courses:

(Adopted 3/02, revised 5/09 with the addition of #9 and #10, revised 3/11)

Please note: The January Term Committee's goal is to offer a diverse array of travel courses that students will find enlightening and enjoyable. The Special Guidelines that follow will help you to develop and market a travel course that will represent a unique educational opportunity for your students and yourself. All these guidelines are subject to Saint Mary's College's unwavering commitment to student safety, a commitment that must be explicitly addressed in your travel course proposal. You must consider certain questions carefully at the time of your proposal, especially for international travel, questions such as: Is the destination country politically and socially stable? Does the destination culture have values greatly at variance with those that the students are used to? If so, how do you plan to insure that students are not taken entirely by surprise with behavioral and social standards different from their own? For the point of view of safety, what measures will you take to insure that students are supervised? What measures will you take to insure that you are available to them at any time they should need your help? If you have taught the class before, and the students' evaluations raised safety questions, have you dealt with them? Your proposal must address these concerns to the January Term Committee's satisfaction before any judgments can be made about your proposal's fulfillment of the Special Guidelines. However wonderful your course proposal sounds, without explicit consideration of safety issues the proposal will not be considered.

The following criteria will be considered in the approval of travel courses:

  1. Deadline: Proposal must be submitted in a timely manner according to the deadline posted by the January Term Committee.
  1. Academic Quality: The January Term seeks to offer students a rigorous, intense and focused academic experience. Consequently, Travel Courses must have a clear academic focus, with clearly articulated learning outcomes. Appropriate means of assessing student performance, including formal written work in most cases, must be described in detail. With courses that have been offered previously, the January Term Committee will review a broader sample of evidence than just the proposal and past evaluations. We will also assess a portfolio of material. Consistent with the Faculty Handbook provision 3.1.3 which states that copies of the final examination be given to the chairperson for department files, and consistent with goals of assessment, if a travel class has been offered before, the January Term Committee will request copies of previous examinations and assignments. As a means of assessing how well learning goals are being achieved, the committee may request a random sampling of student projects.
  1. Innovation: The January Term seeks to provide a range of courses that broaden the options students may pursue during their time at the College. Consequently, the proposed course should enhance the variety of January Term travel course offerings, both in the current year and over time. . Because students may not study abroad as freshmen, the January Term Committee will use a three-year period as the term in which redundancy will be seen as a deficit (that is, if the course has been offered in either of the two years prior to the proposal, it may receive a lower ranking than a newer course). In the event that the same course is submitted for three or more consecutive years, faculty must offer appropriate justification that takes into consideration reducing other travel study options for our students.
  1. Cost: The January Term seeks to provide opportunities for travel courses to as wide a range of students as possible, including students with limited financial means. Consequently, courses that are less expensive (or more cost effective for the period of travel) may be given priority over courses that are more expensive.
  1. Evaluations/Overall Appeal to Students: Along with Academic Quality (listed above), the January Term Committee will consider the overall experience for students that a proposal can be expected to deliver. Peer and student evaluations of the overall quality of the course, if the course has been offered in prior years, may be used to select among similar course proposals. If the course has not been offered before, the January Term Committee will attempt to evaluate the overall appeal of the course to a broad range of students; keeping in mind that academic rigor may not be sacrificed in pursuit of appealing to students.
  1. Necessary Location: The proposed course should have a clear academic reason for the travel component to a particular destination. Courses that could be taught equally effectively in an on-campus setting will not receive preference. Thus, an appropriate course will provide a compelling reason for why it must be taught in the selected location. Be sure to include your justification for location in your learning outcomes.
  1. Logistics: Preference will be given to courses that evidence the best advance logistical planning, including evidence-based cost estimate for travel, transportation, and lodging, a clear itinerary, etc. This may be somewhat difficult to provide where a new course is proposed. Please address this issue regardless. In cases where the proposed course has been offered before, please provide detail regarding logistical planning, cost estimates, itinerary, etc.
  1. Spirit of January Term: Because January Term courses are meant to provide opportunities for students to explore subject matter outside their declared majors and minors, preference will be given to unique courses that are open and available to a wide range of student interests.
  1. Mission: If all the above criteria and concerns are met to the committee’s satisfaction, preference will be given to courses that show a focused commitment to the Catholic, Liberal Arts, and Lasallian mission of the College.
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