Meeting and Exceeding Faculty Expectations

Students looking attentively at the other side of their classroom.Departments have varying expectations and protocols for teaching. When we talk about teaching responsibilities, we do so with awareness that there are two types of expectations: the clear, policy-guided expectations of the University and the more oblique expectations of students, fellow faculty, and yourself. Here we begin with the latter, what can you, your colleagues, and your students expect of your classroom presence, and ends with the formal policy expectations. At this particular institution, one’s research and one’s teaching must find a level of harmony in order to avoid resenting one in place of the other. The more one’s research and one’s teaching interest and engagement can be aligned, the more likely one is to feel satisfied about his or her progress, development, and achievement.

At first, discerning what is expected of you may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In general, what is expected of faculty is respect for the learning environment and for the students they teach. That respect is generally demonstrated by creating clear objectives and policies, arriving on time and attending each class session, responding to student communication and work in a timely, accurate, and respectful way, setting clear expectations for assessments, availability, and access to course materials. Effective learning environments are based on mutual respect, trust, and the free exchange of ideas, and it is incumbent upon faculty as exemplars of scholarly discourse, research, and learning to create such an environment. 

Creating an open, consistent, and fair teaching and learning environment fills the basic requirement for what is expected of faculty as teachers. It is fair, however, to expect that at a world-class university such as Maryland faculty will strive to implement good scholarly teaching practices. In 1987 the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) published the “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” which asserts the following:

  • Good practice encourages student-faculty contact.
  • Good practice encourages cooperation among students.
  • Good practice encourages active learning.
  • Good practice gives prompt feedback.
  • Good practice emphasizes time on task.
  • Good practice communicates high expectations.
  • Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

In 1989, Arthur W. Chickering, Zelda F. Gamson, and Louis M. Barsi created a series of inventories related to the seven principles in an effort to help faculty self-evaluate and improve their teaching, and those inventories remain well-respected to date. Copies of the “Faculty Inventory: 7 Basic Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” are available at the TLTC, and you are encouraged to request a copy or find them online here.

In terms of the University’s official expectations, all faculty members are expected to meet their class obligations and keep office hours. When unforeseen circumstances arise precluding your attendance, and a substitute cannot be arranged, you should notify the Department Chair as far in advance as possible and, where possible, notify affected students. In addition, read the University’s guidelines regarding syllabus content, assignments on dates of religious observance, final examinations, rescheduling of classes and final exams, examination and course assessment guidelines and other related policies. For more detailed information, see the Reasonable Expectations of Faculty as outlined in the Undergraduate Student Grievance Procedure, which is published in Appendix I of The Undergraduate Catalog under the Undergraduate Grievance Procedures (www.umd.edu/catalog/index.cfm). 

The General Education Program

In Fall 2012, the University implemented its General Education program (see: www.gened.umd.edu). Replacing the CORE General Education program, the new program requires:

  • Fundamental Studies (Academic Writing, Professional Writing, Mathematics, Analytic Reasoning, and Oral Communication) [5 courses, 15 credits]
  • Distributive Studies (2 Humanities, 2 Natural Sciences [1 must be a lab course], 2 History and Social Sciences, and 2 Scholarship in Practice [only 1 may be in student’s major]) [8 courses, 25 credits]
  • The I-Series courses [2 courses, may instead be counted as Distributive Studies and/or Diversity]
  • Diversity (Understanding Plural Societies and Cultural Competence - 2 courses, may instead be counted as Dist. Studies [I-Series:2 courses, 6 credits; Diversity: 2 courses, 4-6 credits])

Important changes in the program include the Oral Communication requirement, the I-Series courses, and Scholarship in Practice. The program aims to expose students to different disciplines, allow them to improve fundamental academic skills, and strengthen commitment to using knowledge and abilities to better themselves and others. The CORE General Education program will still continue after the General Education program is implemented. All students admitted as of Fall 2012 are under the General Education program. Students admitted prio to Fall 2012 are under the CORE program. To determine whether a student is subject to the CORE program or the new General Education program, please check: http://www.gened.umd.edu/about-gened/aboutgened.html.