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Resources for Teaching and Course Development

This page offers guidance on all aspects of undergraduate teaching at William & Mary, from developing a new course to grading and course evaluations. 

The COLL curriculum is W&M’s General Education Curriculum, and all faculty are encouraged to consider teaching courses that fulfil COLL requirements.

Developing a New Course

If you have a great idea for a new course, there are plenty of people you can consult on campus to help you develop it:

  • Talk to your Chair and Director. They will help you figure out what kind of course it could be (lower or upper-level, COLL, etc), how it could fit into the curriculum.
  • The Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation (STLI - we pronounce this "steely") provides individualized and other forms of support for new course development
  • The Writing Resources Center (WRC) advises faculty on building writing assignments into their courses.
  • Funding is available from a number of sources to support new course development (see below). 
  • The Center for the Liberal Arts (CLA) manages the COLL curriculum and provides support for faculty who are interested in teaching a COLL course.
  • All COLL course proposals must be submitted to the Educational Policy Committee for review and approval before they can be scheduled.
  • Some departments and programs will also have their own internal approval procedures for new courses. 
Funding for Course Development & Teaching

A&S Faculty Grants Fund - Awards may be used to support classroom activities including performances, workshops, visiting speakers, etc.

COLL Innovation Grant - The CLA has funding available to support faculty as they design and implement courses that bring the best of the liberal arts to our students. We prioritize requests that have concrete connections to current COLL courses, particularly the Campus COLL 300 courses and pilot courses or professional development related to COLL 350.

Office of Diversity & Inclusion Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards

May Seminars - The Charles Center supports seminars that enable faculty collaborations and seminars for specific curriculum development or teaching improvement objectives.

Reves Center Funding - The Reves Center has funding opportunities for faculty to enhance engagement in the international arena.

W&M Washington Center - The Washington Center supports classes that are taught in Washington, D.C.

Learning About Teaching

The Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation (STLI) offers faculty, students, and staff from across disciplines opportunities to collaborate with one another and learn about diverse modes of teaching and learning and new technologies.

STLI offers specific programs and support for new faculty, as well as countless online resources, events, workshops, and one-one-one support on topics ranging from syllabus construction to presentation skills.

Course Management Software (Blackboard and Banner)

W&M uses Blackboard for course management, including an optional grading function, and Banner Faculty for course-related registrar functions, such as viewing your class roster, issuing registration overrides so that students can get into a closed class, and posting grades.

There are many resources for faculty seeking help with Blackboard, including instructions for creating your course Blackboard site. We recommend that you request and populate the site well in advance of the beginning of the semester.

There is also support for Banner users.

Writing a Syllabus
A syllabus must be prepared and distributed (electronically and/or in hard copy) for each course. Please be as explicit as possible in your syllabus about your expectations and assignments as this will help to reduce potential issues. Please remember that you may not add or change a major course assignment later in the semester. You may make incremental adjustments to your syllabus, but please give students as much advance, written notice as possible. Changes to the syllabus may not involve a major increase in course responsibilities. At W&M, we recommend including all the following elements in your syllabi:
  • Your name, contact details, office hours
  • Brief course description
  • Learning objectives
  • A schedule for the course, including what material will be covered in each class
  • The add-drop deadline, which is also the last day for students to choose the Pass/Fail grading option
  • The withdrawal deadline
  • Time and date of the final examination or project
  • Detailed information about all assignments (including deadlines and guidelines for the use of AI writing tools)
  • Attendance policy
    In your syllabus, you should clearly outline your policy regarding attendance; if your policy is that you do not take attendance, just state that. The Health Center does not issue "notes" for students when they visit the health center for short-term illnesses. If a student reports that short-term illness led to a class absence, please work with them to get access to missed class matters (from class presentations, classmates, and office hours, for example). For students who are managing long term illnesses, the Dean of Students Office will provide clear documentation to faculty.
  • Technology use (eg laptops, cellphones)
  • Expectations for behavior and diversity and inclusion (see Building an Inclusive Classroom, below)
  • W&M language regarding student accommodations
  • Information about religious accommodations
  • Information about the Writing Resource Center
  • Information about Library Research Services
  • Inclusive Academic Community/Classroom Affirmation - suggested language to communicate the value of free expression and respect in classroom discussions and student options for reporting concerns.
  • A reminder about the Honor Code which outlaws plagiarism and the submission of the same material in assignments for more than one class (except with instructors’ permission)
  • Grading policies (including for late or missed assignments)
    W&M does not have an official numerical system that aligns with letter grades, but many students will find this useful, and if you use the grading function in Blackboard, you will need it. You may devise your own scale as long as you include it in your syllabus and use it consistently. The usual numerical scale in American education is A range=90-100, B range=80-89, C range=70-79 etc. See also the Undergraduate Catalog's description of our system of grading and grade review procedures.
Ordering books for your course

Books can be ordered through the W&M Bookstore. Students can rent or buy their textbooks online and the store offers a price match program with and Books are ordered through the Adoptions & Insights Portal in Blackboard.

  • Log in using your W&M credentials,
  • Click on "Institution page" on the lefthand menu, and then
  • Click 'BNC AIP Textbook Portal' under Faculty/Staff Links.

The bookstore also buys back eligible used textbooks from students.

Please order your books as much in advance as possible, and make sure that any reading assignment you give during the first week of classes is also available in an alternative form (i.e., BlackBoard posting, copy of text in the library, web-source). Even when students order books for overnight delivery, it can take some time for them to be distributed through campus mail once they reach W&M.

Building an Inclusive Classroom Community

A&S is committed to welcoming and supporting all students in every course and every classroom.

  • General advice - This page from Swem Library's Graduate TA Handbook is relevant for faculty as well.
  • DEI classroom resources from STLI and the W&M School of Education.
  • Classroom resources from the W&M Neurodiversity Initiative.
  • Inclusive Academic Community/Classroom Affirmation - suggested language to communicate the value of free expression and respect in classroom discussions and student options for reporting concerns.
  • Student Accommodations - The Dean of Students Office has a list of resources for making your classroom accessible to students with learning differences.
  • Honor Code - One of the most significant traditions at William & Mary is its student-administered honor system. The Honor Code sustains a documented history that dates back to at least 1736. Today, students administer the Honor pledge to each incoming student and educate faculty and administration about the Code and its application.
  • Student support and success - The Dean of Students Office services to help all students succeed.
  • Religious Accommodations – Guidelines to support students in the essential practices of their faith without conflict with academic requirements.
  • Grading scheme - the Undergraduate Catalog describes the grading scheme.
  • Grade Review Policies - A student who believes that a final course grade has been unfairly assigned may request a review of the grade.
  • Mid-term Grades - Please note the deadline for withdrawal from a course and the dates to submit mid-term grades. Please provide midterm grades on Banner for all of your undergraduate students since doing so is important information for those who are struggling. Three classifications are available: AC for acceptable performance (A – C level grades), a MR for marginal performance (D level), or a UN for unsatisfactory performance (F level). To meet this requirement and to help students gauge their performance in your class, it is recommended that you grade and return to students a substantial assignment or test before the deadline for withdrawing from a class.
  • Final Grades - Final grades are due to the registrar via Banner on or before the deadline with no exceptions.
Final Exams and Projects

A final examination is expected in all courses except seminars, colloquia, studio, or writing courses where final examinations may be unnecessary or inappropriate. The Arts & Sciences Faculty Manual states that final exams must be three hours in length, unless a shorter length is specified in the syllabus.

The day and time of final exam or project is determined by the Office of the University Registrar. Faculty may not change the time or date of the exam. If you assign a paper or take-home exam in lieu of a 3-hour in-person exam, it is due during the scheduled final exam period for your section.

Except for final laboratory examinations (including language laboratories and performance courses), senior thesis projects, on-campus COLL300 courses, independent study projects and one-credit courses, no test or final examinations may be given during the last week of classes or during the period between the end of classes and the beginning of the examination period or during any reading period.

Other assignments, such as projects, short quizzes, homework and papers may be due during the last week of classes as long as they do not total more than 25% of the final grade. There is no restriction on material due during the regularly scheduled final exam period. 

Course Evaluations

Course Evaluations are conducted online using the Blue/Evaluation system by eXplorance. This system allows the university to fully automate all course evaluations and customize them to the specific needs of each department, school and course.

A&S faculty should direct questions to your department or program administrator who can assist you with navigating the evaluation site as well as provide information about department/program specific processes.

Student Privacy (FERPA), Blackboard Policy and Emails to Students
  • No undergraduate student may have access to grades or other protected academic information for any other student in any course.
  • No graduate student may have access to grades or other protected academic information for any other student enrolled in the same course or enrolled in the same graduate program.

Exceptions to these rules must be specifically authorized by the Assistant Deans of Undergraduate Studies and communicated to the University Registrar. The University Registrar's Office will work with Information Technology to audit compliance with this policy. Although the above is a general policy, it should be specifically applied to the use of Blackboard.

Anyone added to your course as an Instructor, Teaching Assistant, or Grader will have access to view and edit the grades of all students in your courses. Therefore, as a general rule, teaching assistants (whether graduate or undergraduate) should not be given one of these designations if they are participating in managing your course through blackboard (or any other course management system). You should use the Bb roles “Builder” or “Student” or “Guest” for non-enrolled students who are helping you with a course.

Please remember that if you are communicating with more than one student in your class, you must place all student email addresses in the BCC line in order to provide privacy.

Communicating with a Student's Parent or Guardian.

Due to FERPA regulations, you are not permitted to discuss a student's grades, performance, or attendance with a parent or guardian or other concerned party UNLESS the student has signed a waiver. This information can be found in Banner, but if you are not completely sure that a waiver has been signed, you cannot discuss the student's record, regardless of how insistent the parent or guardian may be.

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