Preparing a Course
The Faculty of Social Work is committed to making sure there is a reasonable amount of consistency across multi-section courses in terms of course objectives and the amount of work assigned to students. This is in no way meant to interfere with academic freedom, but to ensure that the curriculum is delivered in a way that adheres to FSW’s program objectives and is fair to all students and instructors. Each multi—section course is assigned a Course Coordinator who is a full-time faculty member. This individual is responsible for organizing consultation among course instructors for the purpose of ensuring this basic consistency and facilitating collaboration among instructors where appropriate. Some instructors of a multi-section course may choose to use the same course outline and/or course pack, text-books, or assignments. This is optional.
The course coordinator will help orient faculty who are new to a course and advise you around preparation or adaptation of course materials. You may also consult with the Associate Dean: MSW Program regarding general teaching questions or concerns.
Refer to Academic and Research Misconduct section of the Graduate Calendar.
“Students are encouraged to review the WLU website for information regarding all services available on campus. Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier's Accessible Learning Office for information regarding its services and resources. In order to create a supportive learning environment a student should advise the instructor about any special needs and considerations they may require.”
Instructors have the discretion to cancel classes when necessary. If you do choose to cancel a class, please notifiy the Associate Dean. Note: All courses involve 36 hours of class time, and so any canceled class time will need to be made up.
Please set up in advance a method of communication with students in case classes are canceled, such as the email list found on LORIS or through MyLearningSpace, giving as much advance notice as possible.
If you must cancel your class at the last minute due to an emergency, please contact Zaida Leon at ext. 5243. If possible, it is better to speak to a staff member in person rather than leave a message on the answering machine, to ensure the message is relayed to students quickly. A notice will be posted on the classroom door.
When weather in inclement but the University is not closed, it could be the case that some students cannot attend. On these days it is at the instructor's discretion whether to cancel the class; however, it is usually optimal to hold the class as scheduled, due to scheduling difficulties that can arise.
Most courses are capped at 25 students although occasionally up to 30 students are allowed; electives may have as few as 18 students. Learn the composition of your class: Are they all in the same year of the program or is there a mix? Are they all in the same concentration? the same program (2-yr vs Advanced Standing, Part-time vs Full-time)? Mixed classes can present some additional challenges to any instructor and part-time students often have different needs from the majority of full-time ones. The Course Coordinator or the Associate Dean: MSW Program can assist you in adapting to these different contexts.
Class lists are obtained through the LORIS (https://telaris.wlu.ca) system 7 days per week, 24 hours a day. You can enter grades using LORIS or through MyLearningSpace. Please see the Grade Submissions page.
A student may register to audit the equivalent of one full-credit course (2 half-courses), with permission of the instructor, without being assessed any additional fees. Instructors are not required to accept a request to audit, but students appreciate the opportunity to do some extra learning without the burden of full course requirements. Instructors may, at their discretion and in keeping with the student’s learning goals, negotiate expectations with the auditing student around attendance, participation and written work (if any is desired). Written assignments, if requested by the instructor, are often modified and are not graded, though the student may wish feedback. Courses taken on an audit basis do not count for credit towards a student’s degree program; they will be recorded on the student’s transcript and the term “AUD” will appear in lieu of a grade. At the time of submitting course grades, instructors will submit either “AUD” or “DNA” (did not attend) whichever is applicable.
According to the CAS collective agreement for CAS members (CA 16.1.2), a course outline must include at least the following information:
- Your name, office address, office telephone number, and weekly office hours
- A list of all required reading, assignments and examinations, and the relative weight of assignments and examinations in the final assessment of student performance.
- The description of the course as provided in the Graduate Calendar and a list of explicit course objectives.
- Be sure to distinguish between a required book and an optional book so that students are aware of their options.
- Be sure to include information on the following on all course outlines as required by the Human Rights Commission and the University.
"Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier’s Accessible Learning Office for information regarding its services and resources. Please inform me directly of any way that I can be helpful with your learning. Students are encouraged to review the University Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus.
"Wilfrid Laurier University has a policy regarding Academic and Research Misconduct. Academic misconduct includes, among other infractions, plagiarism. Please refer to the Graduate Calendar for further explanation and sanctions. Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism. Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.
"All students are encouraged to consult the WLU Writing Centre and/or the ESL Seminar Coordinator at FSW. If you are a student for whom English is an additional language, please feel free to discuss with me any needs you may have regarding preparation of assignments.
Also required on the course outline is an image insert with information on Foot Patrol, Counselling Services and the Student Food Bank.
Course Outline Template
Please minimize the amount of group work that you assign to students. While students are often reminded of the importance of learning to work in groups for the profession of social work, we receive consistent feedback from students on the challenges of group work assignments. Please try to strike a balance with this.
- When you do use group work, try to allow some in-class time for students to work on this.
- A group work assignment should not account for a student's entire grade.
- Please offer an alternate option when giving a group work assignment.
- If you do use group work in your classes, please pay attention to issues of inclusivity and equity with regard to how groups are formed. It would be preferable for faculty members to manage group formation in class (e.g., random assignment to groups).
Fall Social Work Events
If you are teaching on a Tuesday or Wednesday in the Fall, please consider building into your course outline an opportunity for your class to attend the Annual Aboriginal Field of Study Student Conference.
Our annual Equity Forum is near the end of September. This event is mandatory for all students. There will be no classes on this day unless you have an evening class.
Course Packs are compilations of articles and/or book chapters selected by the instructor and printed in multiple copies which are then sold in the WLU Bookstore. These are more convenient for students and tend to increase the likelihood of students doing the reading, but they require a little work from the instructor. Copyright rules limit the proportion of a book or journal that may be included in a course pack: generally, you may use one chapter or article from a source, or a fixed percentage of the whole (check with the book store re: current limit), whichever is less. See Course Pack Ordering Guidelines for more information. To oder course packs go to the WLU Bookstore website.
When ordering a course pack, it is important to remember to order two extra copies: one to put on reserve at the library and one for yourself; the cost of these is distributed across the copies ordered for students. If instructor’s and reserve copies are ordered separately later on, there will be a charge to the instructor.
Any requirements or limits that you may wish to establish around negotiation of extensions, penalties (if any) for failing to submit assignments by the due or extended date, should be stated explicitly in your course outline.
For those wishing to establish percentage equivalency to letter grades submitted for student evaluation at Laurier, the following percentage conversion may be adopted. Please note this table is for information purposes only.
Grades for master's and doctoral students
Grades for qualifying students only
In the fall of 2000, full-time faculty agreed that grade inflation had become a problem in the Faculty of Social Work. The following are general guidelines for grading which resulted from faculty discussions:
- a grade of A- is an appropriate mean and mode grade in MSW courses.
- a grade of A+ should be an exceptional grade (i.e., there should be very few A+ grades).
- a grade of B+ should not be considered marginal, and one might expect to assign as many B+ grades as A grades. A grade of B- is the lowest passing grade in the Faculty of Social Work and represents serious concerns about the quality of a student’s work. The Graduate Calendar sets out the consequences for a grade less than B- (equivalent to an F at the Graduate level) or Incomplete. Consult with the Associate Dean: MSW Program if you have any difficulty in evaluating an assignment or assigning a final grade.
Many articles can be accessed on-line through the Laurier library’s on-line catalogue system so that costly hard-copy course packs can be kept relatively small.or even eliminated. The librarian can assist you in setting up an easy-to-use electronic reserve list for students or you can simply provide students with a reference list and they will use the library databases to locate the articles. Note: If a source journal is not accessible through Laurier databases, students will not be able to get the full text on line; please ensure that your on-line readings can be accessed through the Laurier library system.
A student who wishes to add or drop a course will ask you to sign an “Add Drop” form. This is quite straightforward if there is only one section of the course. However, if a student wishes to change to another section in a multi-section course, that student must find a student in the desired section to switch with. To complete this process, both students must complete an “Add Drop” form available from the FSW Programs Assistant. The reason for this is to maintain equitable distribution of numbers in various sections of a course.
Students should never be penalized for having to miss classes due to religious observance. FSW full-time faculty agreed in 2006 that course outlines should contain a statement encouraging students who must miss a class for reasons of observance to approach the instructor regarding assistance (notes, handouts, etc.) that would help to make up the missed material.
Instructors who must cancel a class due to their own religious observance should indicate this clearly in the course outline. You are encouraged to make up the time either by rescheduling the class at a time to which all members of the class agree (if possible) or extending a couple of classes, with class agreement.
Some students prefer to use a required or optional text book from the library rather than purchase it. Special forms have to be filled out to reserve books for students. You will need to provide author name, title of book, ISBN number, and length of time to be loaned out e.g. one hour, three hours, or one day or a three day loan. To do this, please allow 3 – 5 days for the process. The Reserve Desk may also require some time, so plan ahead. For details on placing print and electronic documents on reserve please visit the Library website regarding Placing Course Material on Reserve
Students can access the Writing Centre at any time.& Also, special Writing Workshops for MSW Students are offered during the Fall term.
Textbooks for your class can be ordered online directly through the Book Store. Texts have to be ordered early in order to ensure they arrive in time for your students. Be sure to distinguish between a required book and an optional book since the book store will adjust the number of copies ordered accordingly. You can check the status of on-line orders on the book store’s web site.