Human Resources

Low enrollment, independent study, and special topics courses

Effective November 2006

Continuation of low enrollment courses

  1. A determination is made by the Dean as to whether a low enrollment course will continue based on a thorough analysis of the following factors: a) Programmatic Needs (e.g., size of classes; ratio of amount of work required to number of students to outcomes; whether course is required or elective; number of course offerings; general education role or value; amount of preparation required) b) Recent History (e.g., is it the first time the class is offered; does the class require a lot of hands-on project development or individual guidance to students, etc.) c) Available Rooms and Laboratories (e.g., would continuation of the small class negatively impact space assignment for larger classes.)
  2. The university community is reminded that the average class size target for CSUMB courses is 26 students.
  3. The Dean, in consultation with Department/Division Chairs, may authorize the continuance of classes when there is a compelling reason for offering them in spite of low enrollment, provided they can be staffed within existing faculty allocations.
  4. Consultation must occur between individual Deans and Department/Division Chairs before a low enrollment class is offered. Deans will consider programmatic needs of the college (e.g., due to FTES based funding, would the college be negatively impacted by the number of low enrollment classes.)
  5. The decision to cancel the class must be made by the third class meeting.

Independent study courses

  1. If significant changes are made due to low enrollment, the course may be offered as an Independent Study and the number of workload units received by the faculty member is adjusted accordingly.
  2. The basis for approximating faculty workload is 1/3 unit per student (e.g., one student taking one credit Independent Study = .33 unit; or six students = 2 units). This is calculation is independent of how many credits the student receives for the class. The calculation is based on the number of enrolled students per course section, multiplied by the adjusted factor (.33).
  3. It is important to coordinate with Academic Scheduling to insure appropriate faculty workload coding for the course. Most Independent Study courses have a CS number (Banner Schedule Type) 36; and there is a maximum number of students you can have enrolled per credit offered for an Independent Study section (e.g., 1 credit = 3 students; 2 credits = 6 students; 3 credits = 9 students; 4 credits = 12 students, etc.)
  4. Each student enrolled in a supervised Independent Study, research, or reading course must have an agreement on file in the Department/Division. The Independent Study Agreement form must be used (enclosure 1).
  5. The Agreement is to be made between the student and the faculty member at the beginning of the course and must include the following: a description of the work to be accomplished, specific information on the tasks required, the nature of the final report, and the basis for determining the final grade. The Agreement must be signed by both the faculty member and the student; as well as the Department/Division Chair and College Dean.
  6. Independent Study is not appropriate for classroom instruction and/or assisting in classroom instruction.
  7. Consultation must occur between the Department/Division Chairs and the Dean before an Independent Study option is offered to a student. Faculty members may be limited in the number of Independent Study courses they supervise per semester.

Special topics courses

  1. Special Topics courses provide the medium for offering subjects of a highly specialized and contemporary nature for intensive study. They are also used to offer a course on a trial basis prior to the completion of the course application process.
  2. For Special Topics courses, credits and units correspond to contact hours.
  3. Special Topics courses do not repeat material presented by regular semester courses.
  4. Departments/divisions offer Special Topics only occasionally and the selection usually changes every semester.
  5. Certain numbers or parts of numbers are reserved for Special Topics courses. x95 is normally reserved for variable topic courses, especially 495 and 595.
  6. For every course offered, including Special Topics, a standard course outline and a sample syllabus, vetted and approved by the department and dean, must be kept on file in the department/division office.
  7. The standard course outline should contain the catalog description of the course; a statement of course objectives; and an outline of the subject matter to be covered. The outline may be thematic and/or sequential. The course syllabus is the individual faculty member’s “plan of action” for a particular offering of the course.
  8. The faculty member offering the Special Topics course must be qualified in that discipline to teach the course.
  9. A Special Topics course expires at the end of three years, at which time it must be converted to a regular course or deactivated.