Program Design

Course Syllabus

As part of your program proposal, you must submit a complete course syllabus that contains the standard information relevant to any on-campus course. These details include, but are not limited to, your student learning outcomes, a course description, all assignments, any required textbooks or materials, a grading scheme, and course start and end dates. The syllabus should articulate clearly the roles of all faculty leaders, co-leaders, assistant leaders, graduate students, and student learning assistants, as these individuals must facilitate academic instruction or logistical support in some essential capacity.

Student Learning Outcomes

Like any other course, a successful UConn Program course is founded foremost upon rigorous and sound student learning outcomes (SLOs). All UConn Programs should start with clear articulation of SLOs. Failure to consider the essential role of SLOs may lead to poor program design, confusion of target audiences, improper marketing, unclear evaluations, and lack of sufficient student interest.

Given the diversity of possible topics for UConn Programs, all programs should have SLOs that reflect their academic content and locations. That said, Education Abroad recommends inclusion or adaptation of Education Abroad’s SLOs for all programs.

Program Dates

As non-traditional courses, UConn Program courses do not have to align strictly to the start and end of an academic term. With some degree of flexibility, you are free to choose the course’s official start and end dates.

The Registrar restricts course dates to the following parameters:

  • A course start date may not fall earlier than the start of the enrollment period for that course’s term.
    • For example, summer UConn Programs may not start prior to the opening of summer term enrollment, which typically falls in April. The same process goes for fall and spring programs.
  • If faculty wish to meet with students prior to the enrollment period, they may do so, but these meetings are considered non-mandatory on-campus meetings, not official course meetings. They must inform students of these meetings well in advance, as they will not appear on their official StudentAdmin schedules.
  • Course dates must be inclusive of the entirety of a program. An course cannot begin prior to its program’s official start date or terminate after a program’s official end date.

For a start date, select the day when you expect to have the first mandatory course meeting, whether it be in-person, online, or abroad. For an end date, select the day when you hold the final mandatory course meeting or expect students to submit final projects, whether it be in-person, online, or abroad. Consider extending the official end date of the course well after the termination of the tour abroad to grant your students time to complete final projects and yourself time to grade.

Program Itinerary

A program itinerary is as essential to your UConn Program as a course syllabus. As part of your program proposal, you must submit a complete tour itinerary. That said, you certainly are welcome to make reasonable changes to the itinerary after program approval and, if finances permit, changes while abroad, provided that these edits do not compromise the program’s academic integrity. Your itinerary should include departure and return dates, site visits, excursions, and relevant academic content.

Contact Hours

UConn determines that one credit hour equals fifteen contact hours. As a result, a three-credit UConn Program course would equal about forty-five contact hours. Education Abroad considers contact hours to include any and all pre-tour meetings, official (not free) time during the tour abroad, and all post-tour meetings. The university requires that a majority of contact hours fall during the term in which you award credit.

Official versus Free Time

Any time you dedicate to a program’s structured course activities and excursions may account for the program’s contact hours and thus comprise its Official Time. That said, Free or unstructured time is a necessary part of every program. Too much free time may result in too few contact hours for credits earned and compromise the program’s academic integrity, whereas too little free time may exhaust students and participants and hinder instruction.

All program participants, including the faculty and students, need free time to rest, process their experiences, and complete course assignments. You should build Free Time intentionally in your program itinerary to ensure its overall health (and that of you and your participants). The amount of Free Time that you schedule depends on your overall model, location, and SLOs. We strongly recommend that you clearly denote which time is Official and which time is Free in your final itinerary. We encourage that you provide students and participants with a list of suggested activities to do or sites to explore during their Free Time.

You are welcome to include longer periods of Free Time, such as days or weekends, to allow students to travel independently during the program. If you do so, we recommend that you ask students to provide you with their itineraries for this independent travel, including contact information, lodging, transportation, and emergency plans. Faculty leaders also should clearly identify their expectations for students, such as preparation for their return to course activities during Official Time. Students are fully responsible for themselves during Free Time, but faculty should undertake all reasonable efforts to assist students in need during Free Time.

Prerequisites

Your UConn Program course may have one or more prerequisites as determined by you, your department, and your college dean. Prerequisites should be the same as listed in the UConn Course Catalog for the course number you choose; and may or may not include a minimum GPA requirement of 2.50, which is the standard minimum GPA that Education Abroad recommends. Note that too many prerequisites may affect negatively your ability to market the program to a wider audience of students.

Propriety and Marketability

We encourage faculty to design UConn Programs with attention to several different factors. To maximize your pool of potential applicants, you should consider some push factors that tend to deter students:

  • A program that is too long, in an expensive host country, or far from the United States may be prohibitively expensive
  • A program that is too short, academically esoteric, or in a location unattractive to students (or their parents) will not generate enough applications for the program to become viable.

Consider pull factors that may attract students, such as:

  • Courses that meet major, minor, General Education Content Area, or language requirements
  • Interdisciplinary topics that pull in students from more than one college or department

Review other approved Education Abroad programs–in your department, college, and across UConn–to ensure that your program does not target a similar applicant pool. Avoid countries that the U.S. Department of State or Centers for Disease Control consider risky or unsafe. Consider experiences and locations that facilitate your course’s Student Learning Outcomes, keep costs low, and drive student interest.