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A Guide for Pharmacy Course Coordinators

Course Coordinators in our required Pharmacy courses have a special set of responsibilities to ensure that faculty are fully supported in their teaching efforts (but accountable for established course policies), and that all students in the course (regardless of campus) have equivalent learning opportunities. Recent years have brought increasing challenges for Coordinators in terms of (1) the number of faculty involved in team-taught, integrated coursework, (2) the offering of cross-divisional courses, and (3) delivering both required and elective courses by distance education. Thus, it is imperative that the Coordinator and his/her teaching faculty have a shared understanding of course policies and expectations before the course gets underway, and that problems arising during the semester are addressed expeditiously and consistent with the established course policies.

This Guide is intended to provide helpful information and links to assist Course Coordinators in the management of their assignments. First and foremost, we want to thank you for your willingness to accept such an important and challenging (but oftentimes thankless) responsibility. Secondly, we would ask for your feedback on the information provided, along with any additional information you would like to have linked to this page.

Again, thanks much for all you do!
Patrick J. Davis, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs


Top Eleven Guide for Course Coordinators

  1. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, ICE THAT SYLLABUS!
  2. DECIDE COURSE VIDEOTAPING/VIDEOSTREAMING POLICIES BEFORE CLASS STARTS!
  3. CLEARLY DEFINE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR LOCAL COORDINATORS!
  4. SET YOUR COURSE POLICY ON HANDOUTS, AND HOLD FACULTY TO IT!
  5. YOU'LL HAVE ENOUGH OF A CHALLENGE IN CONDUCTING YOUR OWN TEACHING EVALUATION; DON'T TRY TO DO EVERYONE ELSES TOO!
  6. PROVIDE YOUR FACULTY INSTRUCTORS INFO AS TO HOW TO HAVE WEB INFO POSTED.
  7. PLAN AHEAD FOR ADDITIONAL ROOM NEEDS.
  8. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FACULTY DURING THE SEMESTER; DON'T RELY ON JUST THE INITIAL SYLLABUS MAILING!
  9. STAY IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH THE LRC (OR YOUR LOCAL BROADCASTING STAFF) CONCERNING AV NEEDS AND ANY TECHNOLOGY-RELATED PROBLEMS THAT ARISE.
  10. TURNING POINT TIPS FOR FACULTY
  11. IF ALL ELSE FAILS...

#1: FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, ICE THAT SYLLABUS!

It is imperative that all course policies, schedules, etc., be clearly articulated in the course syllabus. If you have trouble with students or faculty, there is no substitute for being able to point to your well-thought-out syllabus and say "... as is clearly indicated right here,..!". Further, if we ever do run into serious course issues (e.g., policy challenges by students), the first question that will be asked by the Provost's Office is: "What does it say in the syllabus?"

You will avoid 95% of the common headaches with a comprehensive, clear syllabus. An example syllabus is provided, not because it is the best, but simply to show the headings that should be addressed and some sample wording. Specific areas you may want to pay special attention to are as follows:


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#2: DECIDE COURSE VIDEOTAPING/VIDEOSTREAMING POLICIES BEFORE CLASS STARTS! A form is available for Course Coordinators to submit a video conference or A/V request to the LRC. It is imperative that your faculty understand what's happening in terms of their lectures being recorded/streamed, and that students know what to expect in terms of availability (see sample statement). A number of questions concerning faculty prerogative, pedagogy, and logistics arose, which have been fully addressed by the faculty-oriented FAQ's generated by the Academic Support Committee.

It would be great if there was a uniform policy for your course (i.e., for all faculty), but if you have, for example, a lone faculty member who does not want to have their lectures taped/streamed, that can be accommodated on the form. That said, be sure to let that faculty member know that it is their responsibility to inform the class that their lecture taping does not follow the general course policy, not yours (this falls under the heading of "don't try to be a hero!"). A suggested policy statement for video-streaming is on the sample syllabus.


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#3. CLEARLY DEFINE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR LOCAL COORDINATORS! Because of the logistics issues associated with coordinating courses broadcast to multiple campuses, we have implemented the practice of identifying local coordinators on the non-originating campuses to deal with these issues. They are there to help you make the course run smoothly, but it is imperative that both you (as Course Coordinator) and your Local Coordinators have a clear understanding of everyone's responsibilities. Attached you will find the semester-based survey which you can use with your Coordinators to assess whether there is a clear understanding of everyone's responsibilities in course setup and execution. This form can be used as a 'checklist' to make sure the key bases are covered. Examples of the types of questions that need to be addressed are as follows (certainly not an exhaustive list, but they are issues that have come up in the past):


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#4: SET YOUR COURSE POLICY ON HANDOUTS, AND HOLD FACULTY TO IT!

This can be one of the biggest headaches  for Course Coordinators, but it doesn't have to be!  A typical policy is that faculty must (A) have their handouts to the Coordinator at a specified time prior to the start of the semester to prepare a commercial course packet; (B) post handouts on Blackboard® a minimum of 3 days prior to the lecture, and if not (C) duplicate and bring handouts to class.

There are many options here, but again, the key is to set your policies so faculty clearly understand the expectations, and hold them to it! 

An important issue on Blackboard®: If your course content is copied year-to-year, make sure faculty handouts are deleted or made invisible so students don't t accidentally print off massive numbers of outdated handouts.

How about an anecdote? A number of us attended an AACP Teaching Seminar in which the handouts for a very process-oriented keynote weren't duplicated in time. Over the first 45-60 minutes, batches of handouts (generated as fast as the photocopier could go) were filtering into the room, starting at the back tables. (Naturally, we were good citizens sitting at the front). We all do recall that someone gave an explanation as to why the handouts weren't ready, but, to a person, not one of us can recall the explanation! Why? Because we didn't care why! All we cared about was the we didn't have the darn handout!

Now I know how the students feel in these circumstances. And you'd better believe that they don't care if the office assistant didn't bring them down versus they were never sent. All they care about is that they don't have the handout! Oh, and by the way, never-never-never accept duplicated faxed PowerPoint® handouts! They're terrible!


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#5: YOU'LL HAVE ENOUGH OF A CHALLENGE IN CONDUCTING YOUR OWN TEACHING EVALUATION; DON'T TRY TO DO EVERYONE ELSES TOO!

This also falls under the "Don't Try to be a Hero" rubric. We now have a formal process in place for faculty to request their teaching evaluation materials. The form used for this purpose is straight-forward, but there is still occasional confusion when we add the complication of courses being taught at a distance. Clearly, if a faculty member is lecturing to four campuses and is going to conduct their evaluation next Friday morning, there is considerable coordination necessary for all four sites to have the forms to conduct the survey at the same time. Can you imagine what message it sends to students if the home site is conducting the lecturer's evaluation but the three remote sites aren't?

Life as a Coordinator is markedly simplified by asking your faculty to utilize the online (electronic) course instructor survey (eCIS) rather than the logistically complicated hardcopy forms.  Evaluations can be scheduled for mid- or end-of-semester, and everythig is handled automatically online (including the notification of students of eCIS opening and closing).

Because of the increased complexity in the logistics associated with our professional curriculum, if your faculty continue using the hardcopy CIS forms, we have prepared a set of "Guidelines for Faculty and Area Coordinators For Course Instructor Surveys"which (we believe) addresses many of the questions that come up. What should be of interest to you, in particular, is the process and responsibility outline for the faculty and area coordinators in requesting the forms, and for the course coordinator and local coordinators (on the other campuses) in terms of the logistics of conducting the surveys. In case you don't like narrative, there is also a flowchart that explains the process.

As some Course Coordinators have already learned, your life will be greatly simplified by requiring a particular faculty member to conduct the survey at the end of their series of lectures, rather than taking time from the next lecturer (who will then require time from the next lecturer, etc., etc.). In any case, the worst scenario is to have an avalanche of surveys done during the final examination period. The last thing students want to do is fill out a bunch of forms on faculty they haven't seen for 8 weeks, and their evaluations typically reflect it. Again, this is markedly simplified if the faculty member uses the eCIS! The College policy on Peer Assessment of Teaching (PDF Format) is also available online.


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#6. PROVIDE YOUR FACULTY INSTRUCTORS INFO AS TO HOW TO HAVE WEB INFO POSTED.

Most faculty are now well-versed in the use of Blackboard® and are fully capable of posting their own materials.  Those who only occasionally lecture, or who are new to the program, may not be as savvy.  If it is not too burdensome, you may want to inform the occasional lecturer that you will post for them.  For new faculty, they really need to learn Blackboard® use on their own, and there are ample University resources to help them do so (http://www.utexas.edu/academic/blackboard).


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#7. PLAN AHEAD FOR ADDITIONAL ROOM NEEDS. In addition to the regularly scheduled classroom, a number of faculty want to have additional room assignments for review sessions, Academic Assistant tutorials, etc. Please see Nicole Toomey before the semester starts so that we can reserve your space as part of your 'regularly scheduled' class time (and block out those rooms). In contrast, you may have occasional needs for ad hoc room assignments (e.g., a spontaneous request for a review session). Such ad hoc requests are now handled using an online request form.


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#8. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FACULTY DURING THE SEMESTER; DON'T RELY ON JUST THE INITIAL SYLLABUS MAILING! Faculty are busy and may or may not have recorded their lectures and examination dates on their calendars. It's a good idea to send out weekly reminders (e.g., every Friday) the faculty who will be teaching the next week as to the schedule and what their handout status is they may have forgotten that they didn't provide copy for the course packet and so need to duplicate their class handouts and get them to the respective campuses). For example:

Greetings to all. Just a reminder of who's 'up' for next week in the Pharmacotherapy IIa-IIc sequence. Thanks.

IIa Monday: 9am-12pm Davis (handouts are posted in Blackboard®)

IIb Wedednesday: 10am-12pm Koeller

IIc Friday: 9am-12 Talbert & Frei (handouts need to be provided at class or posted on Blackboard® at least 3 days prior to the lecture)

Likewise, you can use this same system to give faculty a 'heads up' on exam questions so you're not scrambling to get questions the day of the exam:

Just a reminder that we have our last summary exam in Pharmacotherapy IIA (375E) next Wednesday at 8am, so I would request that I receive your exam questions by Monday at the latest. Based on the schedule, the breakdown would be as follows:

David: 10 lec x 5 questions/lec = 50 questions
Danielle: 1 lec x 5 questions/lec = 5 questions

Thanks much.


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#9. STAY IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH THE LRC (OR YOUR LOCAL BROADCASTING STAFF) CONCERNING AV NEEDS AND ANY TECHNOLOGY-RELATED PROBLEMS THAT ARISE. While technology across multiple campuses works very well most of the time, there will be the occasional glitch that interferes with effective delivery of lectures. Beginning in Fall-09 each campus will have a P3 student in class who is hired to help handle the smaller, local issues that come up (e.g., notify the lecturer that their slides aren't showing, etc). This student is also responsible for documenting any technical or course-coordination issues that come up during the week, and you as course coordinator (and your local coordinators) will have access to the same online reporting mechanism. It is important that we document incidents as they arise so that we can determine the source and get it corrected before it becomes a problem.


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#10. TURNING POINT TIPS FOR FACULTY. The college has adopted Turning Point as our college solution for a Classroom Response System ("clickers") for a variety of economic and versatility factors, but very importantly, the fact that they work across our multi-campus classes.  Many faculty have adopted this technology as a mechanism for student engagement and feedback.

Visit our tips page for a step-by-step guide to using Turning Point.


#11. IF ALL ELSE FAILS ... Hopefully most of the problems you may encounter are addressed in this Course Coordinators Guide. If not, please feel free to contact me t any time, and I'll try to help in any way I can. Again, thanks much for all you do in coordinating our professional courses.

Patrick J. Davis, Senior Assoc. Dean for Academic Affairs.
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Last Reviewed: October 31, 2013

College Information

Mailing Address:
College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas
at Austin
2409 University Ave.
Stop A1900
Austin, TX, USA
78712-1113

Email Address: pharmacy
@austin.utexas.edu

Phone:
1-512-471-1737