Faculty Handbook: Class Cancellation Guidelines
[Approved by University of Missouri-Columbia Faculty Council on University Policy on November 13, 2003.]
These recommendations are based on the following assumptions:
- Efforts must be made by departments, colleges, and the campus as a whole to maximize efficiency of faculty teaching time, particularly in times of acute financial pressure.
- Larger classes can be incorporated into a department's curriculum in pedagogically responsible ways.
- Smaller classes remain pedagogically valuable, and efforts must be made to ensure that both graduate students and undergraduates have access to the discussion-based learning they afford. Seminars are necessarily small; so too, small classes offer in many cases the best undergraduate learning environment. Efficient scheduling should work to minimize only unnecessarily small classes.
- Just as there may be problems with consistent under-enrollment of courses, there may be problems attending courses with over-extended enrollments.
- Enrollment calculations must take into account a number of variables: whether a course is cross-listed, a course's place in the curriculum (is it "necessary for various reasons), whether it is offered as an overload course (tutorials and the like), whether a faculty member "makes up" for a small course with another course of larger enrollment or by a healthy class enrollment averaged over years, etc.
- Faculty workload discussions are best managed between a department's chair and his/her college dean. These are the people closest to the situation and best equipped to recognize solutions.
- All parties recognize the need to adapt curricula in response to enrollment pressures in pedagogically responsible ways.
- Minimum class size of 12 for undergraduate and 6 for graduate courses should remain the general expectation for courses that are part of a faculty member's regular load.
- This guideline should be used as a basis of discussion between chairs and deans, who will negotiate these issues well before the beginning of the term in question. In many cases, departments that can demonstrate overall efficiency of faculty teaching hours may be allowed courses that technically fall under the norm. This will preserve necessary courses in the graduate curriculum and and the smaller courses so valuable to undergraduate learning.
- When necessary, this class-size guideline may be used by chairs to cancel a class and reassign a faculty member to another class or other responsibility, assign a faculty member to teach an additional class in another semester, or other alternatives to increase the teaching efficiency of the department.
- Departmental teaching efficiency should become an element of the five-year review.
- The Registrar will make available to the Chair of Faculty Council measures of class size (by division and course level) to facilitate monitoring possible changes in class size associated with the implementation of these guidelines.
- The Provost's office together with the deans and faculty should work toward devising improvements in teaching. Curricular adaptations to increase efficiency and pedagogical integrity should be rewarded.