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Guidelines: descriptions and evaluation of graduate courses


Through Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the University is committed to promoting and maintaining excellence of courses and seminars, which play an important role in graduate education. These guidelines are meant to advance this goal.

Course descriptions

  1. Course descriptions, as specified in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities, must be distributed during the first week of classes to all students enrolled in graduate courses or seminars.
  2. Instructors must also submit the same information to their unit, where it must be kept on file for at least one year.

Course evaluations

  1. Evaluation of graduate courses and seminars can be used: 
    1. to provide feedback for improvement; 
    2. as part of a teaching dossier for tenure or promotion review; 
    3. to help students choose courses. 
  2. Evaluations should be conducted for all graduate courses and seminars. It is suggested that evaluations draw on several sources of information in addition to students, such as the instructor, other faculty attending the seminar, and/or professionals from Teaching and Learning Services (formerly CUTL) who have been consulted by the instructor.
  3. Units are encouraged to develop appropriate methods to evaluate their graduate courses and seminars and to share information about useful evaluation procedures with other units. Information about methods for evaluating courses may be obtained from Teaching and Learning Services (formerly CUTL).
  4. It is understood that many graduate courses and seminars have limited enrollment, which may compromise the validity of statistical summaries of student reports. Any evaluations of small courses (as defined by the unit) should be used mainly for purposes of feedback to the instructor.
  5. When conducting student evaluations of graduate courses and seminars, units must safeguard respondents' confidentiality in a number of ways:
    1. Evaluation forms must be collected and returned to the person responsible for administering the evaluations by someone other than the instructor.
    2. The instructor of the course must not be present when students fill out course evaluations.
    3. Information regarding evaluations must not be made available to an instructor until all grades have been submitted.
    4. Units should adopt special steps to maintain respondents' confidentiality in small courses or seminars.
  6. The results of the evaluations are made available to the chair of the unit and to the instructor.
  7. Students should have access (e.g., through library reserve or the unit's Graduate Program Office) to summaries of the evaluations under the conditions that:
    1. the summaries include only information pertinent to students and exclude individual comments;
    2. the instructor has had an academic teaching appointment for more than two years at any university;
    3. a minimum number and percentage of students in the class (fixed by the unit) have responded to the course evaluation;
    4. the instructor has granted written permission to allow such access. Instructors may grant or withhold permission to publicize evaluations independently for graduate and undergraduate teaching and independently for large and small graduate courses or seminars.

Incomplete courses and deadline extensions

To extend a graduate student's deadline for submission of work in a course or for the completion of a program requirement, please fill out the "K" or "KE" Grade in Graduate Level Course form and return to Enrolment Services by the deadline indicated on the form.

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