Rice began offering Student Taught Courses (STC) through the residential colleges in 2006 to provide undergraduates a chance to teach fellow students about subjects in which they consider themselves to be an expert. Since then hundreds of undergraduates have instructed their peers on topics ranging from the Sociology of Harry Potter to the Art of Brewing Craft Beer.
Student-taught courses allow undergraduates to teach and to take classes in non-traditional subjects, and to thereby supplement the Rice curriculum. These courses are labeled COLL (college courses) and are offered for 1 credit hour on a satisfactory/non-satisfactory basis. A student may only count three hours of credit for student taught courses towards graduation, including teaching practicum courses.
REQUIREMENTS FROM THE ODU (Office of the Dean of Undergraduates)
- The classes must be graded on a satisfactory/nonsatisfactory scale—this is functionally equivalent to pass/fail, but does not count against a student’s quota for pass/fail courses.
- All student-taught courses are offered for one credit hour.
- A student instructor cannot be paid a salary, but is awarded one credit hour. Colleges have the student instructor register in a teaching practicum that is overseen by their master. The faculty sponsor of the student taught courses would be responsible for the course including involvement in its planning, operation, and grading. The sponsor is also expected to attend at least one class and meet with the student instructor.
- A student must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and be enrolled at Rice for at least two semesters before teaching a class. So a student must be enrolled at Rice for at least one full semester before proposing a class.
- A student may take as many student-taught courses as she likes, and they are all listed on the transcript, but no more than three resulting credit hours can be applied towards the satisfaction of her/his graduation requirements.
- Student-taught courses must have an enrollment cap of 19 or fewer.
- COLL 300 is required of all students who wish to teach an STC and have not already taught an STC.
Aspiring student instructors, who have not already taught an STC, must complete the 1-credit hour COLL 300: Pedagogy for Student Instructors prior to teaching an STC. This course is offered every term. It meets 90 minutes per week for the first six weeks of the term. The course is co-taught by a current college master and a CTE staff member. The goal of COLL 300 is to provide students with tools and knowledge with which to (1) develop a strong STC proposal and (2) become effective instructors.
Your proposal should include the following items:
- A course syllabus, including the items required by the new syllabus policy.
- STC Proposal Form
- A letter of support from your faculty sponsor. The statement (approximately 1 page) should address the substance of the course, the supporting materials, the learning objectives, and the assignments.
Evaluation Criteria from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates
- It is the student’s responsibility to present the course proposal to his/her College Master for College approval and subsequent recommendation to the Dean of Undergraduates. To ensure that there is sufficient time for review within the college, each proposal should be submitted to the college masters with sufficient time in advance of the proposal deadline, as specified by the college masters.
- Does the title/topic of the course match the syllabus/subject matter? In other words, will the course actually address what the instructor claims they will teach? Similarly, does the course teach what should be covered in a course on that topic, as judged by an expert in the general field? As an important part of this criterion, the subject matter of the course must not already be offered at Rice.
- Is the topic sufficiently well-defined that the topic can be covered in the limited amount of time for a 1 credit course? The course should not sacrifice depth for breadth and should not attempt to accomplish too much within the constraints of a student taught course.
- Does the course provide more than one perspective on the topic? In other words, has the instructor included additional appropriate readings, guest lectures, videos, etc. into the syllabus for the course? A good course provides the students with a synthesis of material from more than one viewpoint. There are numerous ways to accomplish this synthesis. The course needs to present more than just the student instructor’s own view. The course proposal should include a detailed plan for providing both synthesis and multiple perspectives, along with an explanation of the instructor’s qualifications to teach a course on the subject matter.
- Do the assignments in the course actually match the learning objectives and the subject matter of the course? Will a student who completes the assignments have met the objectives of the course? This is particularly important since the courses are graded S/U only.
- For courses which involve physical activity or skills development, are the appropriate safety precautions and training in place? Risk management should be consulted, and for physical activity courses which require appropriate spaces, the Director of the Recreation Center and the Director of the Lifetime Physical Activity Program must be consulted.
- Does the course proposal have the support of the faculty associates of the college? This can be provided in a manner determined by the college masters and may include a designated subset of the faculty associates. To ensure that there is sufficient time for review within the college, each proposal should be submitted to the college masters with sufficient time in advance of the proposal deadline, as specified by the college masters. The masters may find it helpful to have the input of the academic fellows/mentors in the college during this process.
- The best procedural step to ensure that the answers to these questions are positive is through the mentoring provided by the faculty sponsor. This is facilitated when the faculty sponsor provides a statement (approximately 1 page) addressing the substance of the course, the supporting materials, the learning objectives, and the assignments. As such, it is imperative that the student instructor work with the faculty sponsor from the outset of the planning process, rather than at the last minute.
Do I need to get approval for my COLL course from my college master?
Yes. Once you have decided you want to teach a STC you should check with your college master to determine the steps you need to take to get your college master's approval. Your college master must sign the proposal form before it can be submitted to the Dean of Undergraduates. Some questions to ask your college master are:
- Do I submit my proposal to you or another person/group within the college? [note: some colleges have a committee of faculty associates review the proposal, some have a student committee, and at other colleges the master is the only person to review the proposal]
- By what date must I submit my final proposal to you for your final approval?
- Who sends/takes the proposal to the Dean's office (student, college coordinator, master)?
What if I want to co-teach a course - do all of the course instructors need to take COLL 300?
Yes. All student instructors must take COLL 300 to be instructors of record. However, you will only submit one proposal to one college.
Do I need to take COLL 300 again if I want to teach more than one COLL course?
No. You can submit a proposal for as many courses as you wish once you have taken COLL 300.
How do I get credit for teaching an STC?
You need to enroll in the teaching practicum at your college to get 1-unit of credit for teaching an STC. Each college has a COLL 200: Teaching Practicum with the college master as the instructor of record.
Does my faculty sponsor need to be a "faculty" member?
Although it is strongly encourage that you work with a faculty member as your sponsor, a staff member or post-doctoral scholar can also serve as a course sponsor. When looking for a sponsor you want to look for someone that can provide guidance on both content and pedagogy.
What if I want to enroll more or less than 19 students in my class?
All STC course must be capped at 19 students, but you can request that you are able to limit enrollment to fewer than 19 students (for pedagogical or logistical reasons). If you want to enroll more than 19 students you can teach more than one section of the same course.
Can I ask students to special register for my class is there are prerequisites they need to meet?
Yes. In special cases the Dean may approve special registration for the course. In the past classes that require students to be at least 21 years old have been granted this exception.
My course was not approved by the Dean's office. Can I resubmit a revised course?
Yes. Generally the Dean will ask for revisions to the course if it is not approved. The student can chose to make revisions and resubmit. It is best to talk to your faculty sponsor, college masters, and/or one of the COLL 300 instructors about the revisions and how to proceed.
Policies & Resources
Rice University Policies for Instructors
Teaching and Pedagogy Resources
Websites and Blogs
STC TEACHING AWARD
The STC Teaching Award will be given every fall and spring semester to recognize the exceptional teachers of these courses. The process for determining the winner of the STC Teaching Award was developed by the CTE’s undergraduate advisory board. The winner is selected by a committee composed of a current college master, a former Brown Teaching Award winner and a member of the Center for Teaching Excellence’s undergraduate advisory board. Selection criteria are based on a class observation completed by an Academic Fellow from the residential colleges, a review of instructional materials, and student evaluations. Every year the fall and spring semester awards will be given to the winners at the CTE's annual Teaching Award Ceremony in April.
Fall 2015 Winner - Bo S. L. Kim, Class of 2016, Understanding Asian America Through Food
Spring 2016 Winner - Ashley Buchanan, Class of 2016, The Art of Attraction in KPop Music
Fall 2016 Winner - Lucrecia Aguilar, Class of 2018, The Endangered Species and Why They Matter
Spring 2017 Winner - Chas Taylor, Class of 2017, Screwtape and the Art of Self-reflection
Fall 2017 Winner - Lucy Lai, Class of 2018, How Music Plays the Brain