Teaching & Research
Spring 2021 Information
- Faculty teaching face-to-face classes have been encouraged by the Provost to use remote teaching, as appropriate, as much as possible during the first two weeks of the spring semester. Read the Provost’s January 6 message for more information and a spring 2021 Faculty Guide.
- Over the holiday break, faculty are strongly encouraged to limit contact with persons outside their immediate household and practice strict adherence to the CDC social distancing guidelines, as well as follow other health and safety measures. Review the Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings guidelines provided by the CDC. Read more.
- Get a COVID-19 test within one week prior to returning to our campuses. For testing locations in Texas, visit TX COVID-19 Test Collection Sites and Curative, Inc. Testing Sites. Faculty and staff who do not obtain a COVID-19 test prior to returning to campuses will be expected to complete testing during the designated faculty/staff testing period of January 4 to January 15, 2021. Free COVID-19 testing will be available on both campuses. You can pre-register for testing on the San Marcos Campus at SM COVID-19 Testing and on the Round Rock Campus at RR COVID-19 Testing.
Health, Safety and Academic Excellence
Faculty are encouraged to visit the Employees webpage of the Roadmap website for helpful information.
Guidance & Resources for Faculty
During this challenging time, we recognize the critical role and workload of faculty to ensure students are successfully guided through their courses and academic activities. Texas State has a long history of compassion, a student-centered approach, and innovation in teaching and learning. We greatly appreciate your understanding, flexibility, and cooperation as university responds to this public health challenge and implements health and safety standards.
- First and foremost, faculty are asked to consider actions that are in the best interests of course learning processes and outcomes and students’ academic progression. The key is to prioritize learning goals and learning materials, determine the appropriate course design, practice new methods, and communicate expectations to students. Planning for multiple scenarios is the key to preparedness.
- Remember that the Office of Faculty Development, Office of Distance and Extended Learning, and IT Assistance Center are prepared to assist you directly. For quick access, all three units have combined their upcoming workshop and professional development offerings on a single web page: Faculty Training Opportunities
- Different course designs and instructional delivery modes, based on the occupant capacity of rooms and facilities, learning outcomes, and other factors, will need to be contemplated and developed. Course design and delivery will be managed by the faculty member based on approval by the chair/director and in consultation with the dean, and when appropriate, the provost.
- Any class that has the potential for reassignment to a new space (so as to reduce density) will be considered for spaces that are near the academic unit and will be the decision of the concerned college. University Registrar will provide a list of scheduled courses and the associated classroom density to chairs/school directors. Chairs/school directors should review the current schedule of courses and request larger venues to reduce classroom density and potentially mitigate the need for the A/B model. Units and faculty are strongly encouraged to take advantage of such reassignments of space.
- In all courses, faculty initiate regular, frequent, and substantive interaction with students. Section 05 of AA/PPS 02.01.30, Distance Education Courses and Programs, provides guidance on how to achieve the interaction that is expected by students and required by regulatory and accreditation standards.
- The Division of Information Technology (DOIT) whas equipped classrooms with technological tools to support synchronous and/or asynchronous content delivery, and dedicated resources for faculty to deliver high-quality, effective "flexible" face-to-face, hybrid and online instruction and resources for students to ensure effective and uninterrupted learning.
- Online courses are part of a larger instructional delivery strategy. These courses may include online, hybrid, and "flexible" face-to-face courses that were designed and included in summer session II 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 schedule of classes or those designated to meet workplace modifications or alternative arrangements approved by the chair/director in consultation with the dean, and when appropriate, the provost. All instructors teaching online, hybrid, or "flexible" face-to-face courses must be certified to teach in these modalities. Information on certification is available from the Office of Distance and Extended Learning. Other considerations include the impact of electronic course fees charged to students, student demand and expectations for engagement, student readiness for online courses, and reporting requirements to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Open educational resources (OER) are available on a wide range of topics and may include lectures, assignments, videos, readings, and other materials. Resources include:
- Guidelines for instruction in non-classroom learning spaces such as in internships/cooperative education, field trips, laboratories, and clinical practice and in the performing arts may be found in the Continuity of Education Work Group recommendations. These recommendations are available at https://www.txstate.edu/coronavirus/work-groups/education.html.
- Be realistic about your students and yourself: When outlining a new course syllabus or revising a course that is currently running, think about what will need to change to accommodate remote/online teaching. Will you need to extend deadlines or simplify an assignment or task to allow for extra time required for differing student situations or logistics of working electronically? Consider alternative assessment strategies that effectively measure student learning while maintaining academic integrity. How will you manage your own time in running different aspects of the course? How prepared are you to use new technology?
- Use familiar tools: In times of disruption, emergency or crisis, you and your students are already stressed. Plan to use tools and technologies that are readily available, provided by and supported by Texas State, and easy to use or learn.
- Choosing technology: In choosing technology consider FERPA guidelines and expectations for privacy and confidentiality. For example, student grades may not be emailed.
- Consideration of students with accommodations: Be mindful of students with accommodations through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and how course revisions may affect their experiences, including universal design, additional time for testing, readability of materials, and assistive devices. Contact ODS for questions at 512.245.3451 or email@example.com.
- Encourage students to get help and join communities: You cannot solve all of the students’ problems remotely. Be aware of tutoring, counseling, and support resources offered by the university that you can point students to when they need them. Use forums and other tools to encourage students to communicate with each other to informally check-in or form study groups. Build in group activities so students are required to connect with their peers throughout the course, to mitigate any feelings of disconnection or loneliness.
- Communicate your plan: After you’ve assessed the situation and made a plan, convey your expectations to students. Prepare to be able to communicate with students early and often, especially in emergencies. Create lists of names and email addresses shortly after the term begins and let students know where to look for emergency contact about the course. Even without set plans, promptly communicate with students to indicate that changes are coming and to reinforce expectations for checking email or Canvas (or TRACS) to know how instruction will continue. We recommend asking every student to acknowledge they understand and are ready to participate (via individual messages or email for a small class; perhaps via a survey for a large class). Highlight changes to the syllabus and schedule.
- Face-to-face only courses may be delivered normally when the student enrollment is no more than 50% of the room’s rated maximum occupancy.
- Before finalizing course syllabi, faculty teaching face-to-face class sections must compare student enrollment to the maximum occupancy of the assigned classroom. If enrollment is more than 50% of the classroom maximum occupancy, the course will be taught so that some students attend in-person a portion of the time and participate remotely a portion of the time. The number of occupants in the classroom at the same time is limited to 50% of the rated maximum. For more information on how classroom capacity will be managed, visit the "Instructional Delivery & Classroom Capacity" section in the Physical Distancing Measures page.
- Assigned seats and attendance tracking must be used in all classroom learning spaces to benefit contact tracing should a positive COVID-19 case emerge. Signage will be posted in and around classrooms to display each room’s maximum capacity.
- Course syllabi should:
- Address the mode of class delivery, access to class materials, examination procedures, including the use of online proctoring, and other instructional strategies including specific information about how regular and substantive faculty-student interaction will be accomplished.
- State how office hours will be handled for student appointments.
- Include statement on cloth face covering requirement and violation procedures.
- Include the following statement in the syllabus: Civility in the classroom is very important for the educational process and it is everyone’s responsibility. If you have questions about appropriate behavior in a particular class, please address them with your instructor first. Disciplinary procedures may be implemented for refusing to follow an instructor’s directive, refusing to leave the classroom, not following the university’s requirement to wear a cloth face covering, not complying with physical distancing or sneeze and cough etiquette, and refusing to implement other health and safety measures as required by the university. Additionally, the instructor, in consultation with the department chair/school director, may refer the student to the Dean of Students Office for further disciplinary review. Such reviews may result in consequences ranging from warnings to sanctions from the university. For more information regarding conduct in the classroom, please review the following policies at https://policies.txstate.edu/division-policies/academic-affairs/02-03-02.html, Section 03: Courteous and Civil Learning Environment, and https://studenthandbook.txstate.edu/rules-and-policies/code-of-student-conduct.html, number II, Responsibilities of Students, Section 02.02: Conduct Prohibited.
- Provide general information on how disruptions to routine instruction will be handled (such as when the worst case scenario occurs).
- Include a pandemic disruption tolerant attendance policy.
- Specify appropriate assessment and testing that will ensure academic integrity.
- Include a statement about the reporting tool for notification of positive COVID-19 tests/illnesses to the university (when available).
- Before the beginning of the semester, faculty members should review AA/PPS 02.03.02, Conduct of Classes for guidance on classroom authority and recommendations on handling disruptions, including violations of health and safety principles (e.g., refusing to wear a face covering). Students are notified of this university policy through the syllabus statement above, which should be reinforced on the first day of class and throughout the semester. Additional information is forthcoming.
- Instructors may choose to record lectures, discussions, and class activities for students who need later access. The following must be observed regarding recordings:
- Include a statement in the syllabus indicating that lectures, discussions, and class activities may be recorded for facilitating remote instruction.
- Discuss with students that lectures, discussions, and class activities may be recorded and provide the reason for the same.
- Ensure that recordings are only accessible through NetID and password by students enrolled in the current semester. This may be accomplished by Zoom integration through Canvas.
- Ensure that the recording is available only to students enrolled in the current semester and that these recordings not be used in future semesters.
- Faculty should have class materials available in Canvas in order to facilitate the 50% maximum density rule in classrooms or a switch to fully remote instruction should that become necessary.
- All courses should establish contingency plans for a swift and efficient transition to remote instruction should the worst case scenario unfold. All contingency plans should ensure that faculty meet the required contact hours and the learning outcomes as well as requirement for regular and substantive student-faculty engagement. Planning for alternative assessment methods is also strongly encouraged in the event of a pandemic surge. Reliance on technologies such as online proctoring to support assessment as a part of these contingency plans should not be considered as these services may not be sufficiently available to all courses. Faculty may consider alternative assessment techniques including examination monitored by faculty on Zoom, virtual presentations, papers, or un-proctored examinations delivered through Canvas. Faculty exploring alternative assessment options may consult with the Faculty Development office for information on workshops and support.
- Departments/Schools are responsible for ensuring continuity of instruction when instructors of record can no longer assume the regular load. Departments may request stipends from the Office of the Provost for instructors who assume extended instructional duties for others.
- Faculty should take into account the differences between the terms “accommodation” and “modification” in making decisions on assisting students when students approach them with the need for a resolution to their unique situations. Appendix A of the Continuity of Education Work Group recommendations provides detailed information on the differences between the two terms and how to proceed in either case.
- In granting an exemption from assigned course work and learning expectations, faculty should take into account such factors as whether the student has tested positive for COVID-19, is isolating or is in quarantine. The key is whether the student is ill or not. A physician’s note to that effect would be the standard documentation for being late or missing assignments, whether it is due to COVID-19, the flu, etc. Students who are not ill, but are still required to quarantine/isolate, should be able to complete assignments but will not be able to physically attend classes or labs. However, students in face-to-face classes will need to be excused from in-person attendance until the quarantine/isolation period ends. Appendix B of the Continuity of Education Work Group recommendations provides detailed guidance in this regard.
- Faculty should ensure that regular and substantive faculty-driven engagement occur in all classes, including in online and hybrid classes. Asynchronous online courses cannot be implemented as correspondence courses. In addition to accreditation standards, faculty-driven activities are important for meeting the university’s core values and responding to student feedback regarding increased workload with less direct access to instructors and academic engagement opportunities. Regular and substantive interaction is covered in university policy: AA/PPS No. 02.01.30 § 05.07
- Cloth face coverings must be worn by faculty and teaching/instructional assistants in classrooms. Cloth face coverings must be worn by faculty and teaching/instructional assistants also in laboratory or clinical settings where close contact is required, unless a mask with higher protective properties is required.
- Individuals at high risk for complications from COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, will have the opportunity to request additional workplace modifications. Faculty members with questions about circumstances or conditions not defined by CDC may consult with their department chairs/school directors about safeguards and options for alternative arrangements.
- Faculty have three major roles in contact tracing: 1) keep a current seating chart so that close contacts can be identified, 2) assist contact tracers with identifying close contacts when necessary and, 3) remind students that if they test positive for COVID-19 or are notified that they are a close contact to a positive case, they should immediately report to Bobcat Trace.
- In committing to the Bobcat Pledge, all faculty and staff must conduct a self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before the start of their workday.
- All faculty should complete online teaching certification or self-certification. More information on certification is available from the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.
- Faculty own the coursework they create, and the university has a license to use it for education and marketing purposes. More information on copyright and remote teaching is available from the university’s Copyright Office and the library’s remote course support webpage.
- Office hours may be held virtually or electronically (Zoom, Teams, phone).
- Through the use of Canvas or other appropriate means, instructors should be prepared to work with students who must self-quarantine, or are certified as vulnerable populations who should not come to class, etc.
- Explore how students can get the most from remote learning.
- Remember, more important than any technology is your presence, confidence, and care for your students and the continuity of our learning community.
- Engagement with your students should begin before the semester begins. Students may have questions or be anxious about the upcoming changes or term. Frequent short messages and updates will help students understand the care and planning you are investing in your course and encourage them to be properly prepared.
- Students may feel especially vulnerable at this time. The College Transition Collaborative provides advice on communicating with students with clarity and compassion. Texas State’s Counseling Center has a COVID-19 resource page, as well.
- Familiarize yourself with support services available to students so you can refer them to the appropriate resource
At Texas State University, we value the community of learning we create with and among our students. In a crisis, we can come together to maintain quality and continuity of the learning experience with planning, interaction and engagement, and support. Course design strategies should allow for flexibility for you and your students so that accommodating changes in delivery does not have to be significantly disruptive or require significant re-design. As you prepare your course, we encourage you to utilize these resources:
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has provided comprehensive guidance for research during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the following:
- Phase 1 resumption of laboratory-based and field research must be supported by specific standard operating procedures for each laboratory/program. These procedures must be submitted to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and compliance will be reviewed at regular intervals.
- When conducting research, ensure that you are abiding by the university’s 12 Health and Safety Measures.
- The on-site research work of graduate and undergraduate students must be entirely voluntary and authorized by the student’s advisor. This mutual agreement must be documented and confirmed by the student’s program director.
- Training Opportunities for Faculty - Upcoming training activities including workshops, learning communities, drop-in consultations, online teaching certification
- Teaching Continuity Guide - Office of Distance and Extended Learning
- Remote Teaching and Collaborating Resources - ITAC
- Let's Do Lunch! Events by Faculty Development
*Information provided in the Roadmap may change or be updated as needed to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation.