In an environment which encourages students to take a mature and self-directed approach to learning, one of your roles as coordinator is to establish and encourage shared responsibilities and expectations between teachers and students.
It's natural that many first year students will not yet be aware of their responsibilities in a tertiary learning context. For this reason it's a good idea to set up methods that help students understand their obligations, and remind them of academic requirements. At the same time, these students are now in an adult learning environment and should not be treated as though they are still at secondary school.
The idea is to strike a balance that provides ready access to the necessary information, and that assists students in developing the autonomy and responsibility that will, over the long term, foster their generic graduate attributes.
The University Staff Code of Conduct details expectations of staff in respect of their professional and personal conduct.
Establishing expectations and responsibilities within the teaching team
In your role as leader of the team you can encourage appropriate conduct and the sharing of responsibilities.
- Work with the team to establish clear guidelines for both teachers and students in your UoS. This would include expectations of each staff member’s input, as well as clarification of the learning outcomes of the unit of study (UoS), and expectations of each student’s contribution to their own learning process.
- Ensure the team is aware of and understands the University’s code of conduct for teachers. This is particularly important in relation to appropriate methods for handling student misdemeanors and student appeals.
- Think about the context in which you are teaching, and consider whether you need to discuss any challenges that might arise or further guidelines that may be needed to ensure a safe, respectful and inclusive learning and teaching environment.
Sessional staff responsibilities
Due to the casual nature of their employment, there are some specific considerations when it comes to helping sessional staff share responsibilities in the teaching team.
- Make sure your sessional staff are aware of their own responsibilities towards students, and also of the role they have in letting students know their obligations in the UoS. For example, let them know what their role is in respect to student discipline and when it is appropriate to deal with an issue themselves or to raise it with you.
- It is also important to clarify for sessional staff what is expected of them in regard to workload. For example, although many sessional staff are paid according to their face-to-face hours, they need to know about expectations regarding preparation, email correspondence with students, etc.
See Leading a teaching team for more information.
The University’s Student Code of Conduct details expectations of students in respect of academic matters and personal behaviour.
Student responsibilities regarding their enrolment are detailed on the Your Enrolment page for current students.
One way to manage student expectations of the unit, and encourage them to take appropriate responsibility, is to establish shared expectations between students and teachers from the very beginning.
Use your UoS outline to clarify students’ responsibilities and the requirements for successful completion of the UoS. Make sure students are aware of:
- what they may lose out on if they don’t attend classes, and what their responsibilities are in respect to missed classes due to illness etc.
- details of late penalties that apply to any assessment submitted after the due date (as well as any closing date beyond which an assessment will no longer be accepted).
- all requirements for submitting assessment, eg ‘attempt all tasks to avoid absent fail’.
- the approximate amount of time you expect of them outside of class and the minimum requirements.
- the importance of academic honesty, and the resources that are available to help them in developing their academic skills.
- University policies, and codes of conduct, and their responsibilities both within and outside of class.
In addition to providing clear learning expectations for students in your UoS outline, you can also use the learning activities in your classes to reinforce student responsibilities.
- Take some time in your first lecture to alert students to responsibilities and appropriate behaviours in class and in respect to teachers and other students. Some lecturers present an abbreviated version of University or faculty policy, along the lines of ‘staff will aim to ..., students will aim to ...’. An exemplar is this PowerPoint presentation
used by Lorraine Smith in Pharmacy – it clarifies key expectations and responsibilities between staff and students. Tutors can also use a resource like this to reiterate the key points relevant in their teaching and learning context.
- Design activities and assessments that reinforce first year students’ awareness of their responsibilities and obligations both within the specific UoS, and within the overall Program. For example, in the first week or two you could do a trivia quiz on the UoS outline to develop their knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. Some coordinators ask their first years to sign a ‘contract’ to agree to abide by the student conduct requirements of the faculty and University.
- Encourage the development of generic skills through teaching practices and learning activities. See our other sections on Academic skills, Active Learning and UoS design. You will find links to these pages in the feature pane on the right.
- Help your students to develop independent learning skills, as this will build their sense of being responsible for their own learning. More information can be found in our section on Academic skills.
- Always deliver on promises that you make to the class – don’t promise something if it is unlikely to happen.
- Be clear on the learning objectives of the unit and clarify assessment criteria as this will help students to target specific study skills they need to work on.
- Always deliver feedback as promptly as possible, as students depend on this to work on improving their skills. When they hand in assignments, let them know approximately the date assignments will be returned and feedback will be provided.
- You have a responsibility to design a UoS that provides equity for all. When you have students with specific requirements (such as a student with a disability), you must provide reasonable adjustments where needed. It is also important to be clear that every student is required to meet the learning outcomes of the unit and that they share responsibility for their learning.
The University’s policy on the Management and Evaluation of Coursework Teaching includes a code of practice.
In Part 3.5 you will find information on coordinator and teacher responsibilities. In Part 3.6 there is information about student responsibilities
Your Faculty handbook will clarify any rules and regulations specific to your context.
See our section on Classroom management techniques for some tips on dealing with disruptive students etc.
The University has systems in place in cases of serious incidents of student misconduct.
If you are new to coordinating, you may sometimes find yourself in situations which you haven’t dealt with before. Remember your peer support system within your faculty. If you find yourself in a difficult situation – for example with a student who is making unreasonable demands, or who is behaving in an offensive way to staff or other students – consult with more experienced staff members on how best to deal with the situation. This will also help to decide if the situation constitutes misconduct, which should be referred to Student Affairs.