Administering the Basic Course

Effective administration is critical to the success and sustainability of the Basic Course. Often, faculty are assigned to direct or coordinate the Basic Course with little to no training on how to successfully administer the course. This lack of preparation can be problematic when challenges or threats arise. Even for experienced Course Directors, leading and managing the Basic Course presents some unique obstacles. Effective Basic Course leadership can make or break the course and determine its future on any given campus.

Administering the Basic Course can appear to be a daunting task. However, with a clear understanding of the role and expectations of the Course Director, administration of the course can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Many Basic Course Directors have achieved tenure and promotion in their role through effective leadership and administration of their program.

The links below provide information on the responsibilities and expectations of the Basic Course Director, departmental resources for support of the Basic Course, and information designed to help Basic Course Directors achieve tenure and promotion.

What are the responsibilities and expectations of Basic Course Directors?  

Cheri J. Simonds of Illinois State University explains the specific duties of a Basic Course Director as these duties are organized around five categories: Advocacy, Curriculum Development, Training, Assessment, and Management & Leadership.

Suzy Prentiss of the University of Tennessee conducted a survey to obtain a more detailed understanding of the role of Basic Course Directors and the Basic Course itself across all levels of institutions of higher education. Specifically, the project examined five key questions: 1) What are the roles and responsibilities of a Basic Course Director?; 2) What classes are housed under the responsibilities of the Basic Course Director?; 3) What training/supervision/and resources are provided for Instructors of the basic course(s) and are those provided by the Basic Course Director?; 4) What is the job title/rank of the Basic Course Director?; and 5) What training/resources/support would be helpful for Basic Course Directors to fulfill their roles? The results of Prentiss's survey are available here.

What resources should departments provide to support the Basic Course? 

Jon A. Hess of the University of Dayton believes that resource needs vary widely based on the nature of the course, particularly between those programs taught using a common syllabus and staffed with GTAs and adjunct instructors versus those programs taught independently by full-time faculty. At a minimum, a Course Director/Coordinator is needed, and that person—preferably a ranked faculty member—should get a course reduction. Beyond that, financial support for instructor training (e.g., pre-semester workshops, teaching conference attendance) and potentially GTA or adjunct instructor support for rigorous assessment are helpful when possible. Additional financial support for director development (e.g., attendance at the Basic Course Director’s Conference), course materials (e.g., recording equipment), or other needs can help strengthen a course considerably.

How can Basic Course Directors successfully achieve promotion and tenure?  

Cheri J. Simonds of Illinois State University discusses her tenure and promotion experiences and offers advice and counsel for Basic Course Directors seeking tenure and promotion.