How did this program develop?
What are the benefits of sponsoring a seminar?
What is my role as a faculty sponsor?
How much time is involved with being a faculty sponsor?
Do faculty sponsors earn teaching credit?
If I am a visiting or sessional instructor, am I eligible to sponsor a seminar?
Are Student Directed Seminars academically rigorous?
What kinds of students are drawn to this program?
If there is no ‘instructor’, how are students evaluated?
I know a great student; how can I recommend them to you?
How many students can register for a seminar?
Is there a limit on how many times a seminar can be offered at UBC?
When do classes run?
What happens if I’m approached by a student coordinator who needs help with logistics?
Where can I get more information?
How did this program develop? (Top)
An expansion of the directed studies option offered by most departments, the Student Directed Seminars (SDS) program is modeled after a student-directed seminar program at the University of California at Berkeley. UBC’s SDS program has grown significantly since its inception in 1999. During the 2012/2013 academic year, 24 upper-year undergraduate student coordinators worked with 19 faculty sponsors to design, develop, and run 18 seminars for 179 of their peers.
What are the benefits of sponsoring a seminar? (Top)
Sponsoring a Student Directed Seminar is a great opportunity to:
- Work collaboratively with a motivated student to create a unique learning environment for undergraduates;
- Cultivate a student’s academic development by offering mentorship and guidance;
- Explore an integrated or interdisciplinary topic.
What is my role as a faculty sponsor? (Top)
As Faculty Sponsor, you will guide the student coordinator(s) in the various academic processes required for seminars, including: developing the course outline, generating reading and resource lists, and presenting marking options. to further assist in ensuring a high level of academic rigor, you may agree to mark, or at least to read and comment on, the written information produced by students in the class. While you are not expected to attend most class meetings, you will be required to be available to the student coordinator(s) for guidance, and to participants in the seminar if needed. A further requirement will be to sign-off on and submit final marks to the appropriate administrative contact.
How much time is involved with being a faculty sponsor? (Top)
The time commitment depends on the seminar, and will vary accordingly. In many cases, you will be most involved in the facilitation of the key administrative and logistical details of the course. These tend to require attention at the beginning and end of the semester.
Do faculty sponsors earn teaching credit? (Top)
Individual departments will recognize their faculty members’ contributions to the SDS program in different ways.
If I am a visiting or sessional instructor, am I eligible to sponsor a seminar? (Top)
The Advisory Committee expects that SDSs will be supervised by tenured or tenure-stream faculty members. SDS sponsorship requires additional work that may not be recognized by colleagues with other appointments. For example, sessional instructors would not be paid to oversee SDSs. However, with the support and approval of a Department Head, the SDS Advisory Committee will consider approving seminars sponsored by colleagues who are not tenured or tenure-stream faculty. It is imperative, though, that non-tenured or non-tenure-stream faculty who agree to take on such a supervisory role do so voluntarily, and with the understanding that it is not a condition of their UBC employment.
Are Student Directed Seminars academically rigorous? (Top)
Yes. Student Directed Seminars are based on the same academic principles that guide other classes at UBC and have been approved by the UBC Senate’s curriculum committee. Furthermore, a committee composed of faculty members, staff and students reviews all seminar proposals for approval. Students whose seminars have been approved are given training from CTLT and are prepared for facilitating a seminar. In many cases, the students’ passion for the subject, as well as their expectations and assignments for themselves, make these seminars considerably more challenging than traditional courses.
What kinds of students are drawn to this program? (Top)
Our student facilitators are some of the most motivated, dedicated, and talented students at UBC. They are academically-strong students who have a passion for learning and the ability to critically impact the learning experience of their peers. SDS participants are equally-motivated. Many self-select into the SDS experience to participate in new and innovative learning opportunities beyond the traditional lecture.
If there is no ‘instructor’, how are students evaluated? (Top)
Students may be graded on a pass/fail basis, or according to the standard alpha-numeric scale. The grading system for each course is determined by the faculty sponsor, the coordinator, and the participants, and applies to both participants and the student coordinator.
Evaluation often consists of two components: participation and completed work. The in-class mark is determined by peer evaluation. Each student’s completed work, which may be a term paper, poster, or some other tangible output, is reviewed either by the faculty sponsor or by peers. Responsibility for assigning final grades to all students, including the coordinator, rests with the faculty sponsor.
I know a great student; how can I recommend them to you? (Top)
We are thrilled when faculty members recommend great students to the program, and your recommendation is often the encouragement a great student needs to try something new. Furthermore, each application package requires a recommendation letter from a faculty member (not necessarily the seminar’s sponsor); as such, your recommendation is important in the review and selection of proposals.
How many students can register for a seminar? (Top)
The minimum enrollment of each seminar is eight; the maximum is fifteen.
Is there a limit on how many times a seminar can be offered at UBC? (Top)
Seminars may only run once. Students who would like to revive a previously-offered seminar will need to clearly evidence how the second offering is different in approach, scope, and content.
When do classes run? (Top)
While Student Directed Seminars run during both semesters of the academic year, most are offered during the January-April term. September to December (or the summer months for Term 1 seminars) is used to complete coordinator training, order textbooks, prepare syllabi, create reading lists and marking schemes, market seminars, and secure course / room numbers.
What happens if I’m approached by a student coordinator who needs with logistics? (Top)
If a student approaches you for help with logistics, please first ensure that their application has been approved by the SDS Advisory Committee. Once a student’s application has been approved, they will need to get a course number, book a room for class meetings, register students and, if necessary, borrow A/V equipment throughout the term. Without the assistance of staff and faculty members, students may have a very difficult time completing these tasks. If approached by a student coordinator and if able to do so, please help them complete these tasks and/or direct them to someone who could.
Where can I get more information? (Top)
If you require more information about the Student Directed Seminars program, please contact Tlell Elviss at firstname.lastname@example.org.