Fall 2022 Guidelines for Instruction

This fall we bring with us the momentum of all we have learned over the past 18 months about how to navigate teaching during an evolving pandemic. We also carry within us our shared sense of why our work matters and who inspires us to continue to pursue robust teaching and learning: Our students.

This page reflects the ongoing collaboration between Academic Affairs and CETAL and begins with a list of priorities to keep in mind in approaching instruction this fall.

  • Continue to post syllabi and grades in Blackboard, and if using a different platform, include links in your Blackboard shells.
  • Include in your syllabi the statement, “Students are expected to follow all university requirements regarding face coverings.”
    • The university will use a three-color system alerting campus of our community transmission status and what actions faculty, staff, and students should take regarding masking. 
      • RED – This means the CDC has this region of Arkansas at a Substantial or High Risk of community transmission. Masks will be required on campus in indoor spaces.
      • YELLOW – When the CDC lists this region of Arkansas at Moderate Risk, we will encourage the use of masks indoors.
      • GREEN – Once the CDC lists the region as Low Risk, the campus will follow normal business and operational patterns.
  • Include in your syllabi clear guidelines on how you will communicate with students if there is a need to go virtual for a time.
    • Tell students explicitly what method of communication you will use to convey this information (e.g., UCA email, Blackboard, GroupMe, etc.)
  • Work out in advance how you will handle requests to attend in-person classes on Zoom.
    •  Set clear expectations for making requests, for what you will and will not accept as reasons to be on Zoom, and how you will handle participation with students on Zoom. Recall that students will now be able to provide documentation for instances involving testing and quarantining. Additionally, if you have students in your class who are in quarantine or isolation, you will get an email from the Dean of Students. The email will not say that the students are in quarantine or isolation but will say they are unable to attend class. Accommodations for students to continue or make up work must be made.
    •  For example, both for students in quarantine as well as those with infrequent needs to miss in-person class for athletics, student organizations, and other illnesses, you could require a minimum of 24 hours notice to consider and approve or deny requests.
  • To prepare students for the possibility of shifting to online instruction via Zoom for a time, consider holding one or more practice classes on Zoom early in the semester to establish expectations related to Zoom etiquette.
    • Clarify for students that you expect cameras to be on at all times unless they have prior permission to turn them off and spell out the consequences for failing to participate in class sessions held on Zoom.
  • Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to address unacceptable behavior the first time it happens.
    • Press past the initial awkwardness of addressing misbehavior to correct a student and tell them what you want them to do instead. Students have varied experiences and expectations related to class participation, and they cannot read our minds related to our expectations.
    • If on Zoom, consider using the private chat feature to make a student aware of behavior that needs to change.
  • As circumstances are evolving quickly related to Covid in central Arkansas, contact your department chair/school director for the most up-to-date information.
  • An additional resource is our COVID-19 website, which has been updated to better reflect campus priorities and provide relevant insights to our operations and strategies.

Here is the link to the extensive recommendations offered by the AY 21-22 Working Group related to instruction. Please review this document for additional guidance.

Sample Syllabus Language

Below are samples of syllabus language to consider for guidance related to in-person and Zoom expectations for students.

In-Person Class Expectations

One of my highest values in the classroom is for us to demonstrate respect for one another. My goal is for you to sense my deep respect for you as a student and human being, and I ask you to demonstrate respect for your fellow students and for me as your professor. Below are some ways we can demonstrate mutual respect in person.

  • Each one of us contributes to an environment that is physically and psychologically safe and conducive to learning. Although our classroom spaces may not always require distancing and masks, we can show respect for others by wearing masks, keeping our distance from others to the extent possible, and not attending class in person when we have been exposed to or diagnosed with Covid or other illnesses.
  • Show respect by choosing your words thoughtfully and expressing disagreement in constructive ways during class discussions. Monitor your body language and tone of voice to ensure they also show respect for others.
  • Show respect by coming to class prepared and on time and by participating in class discussions. Monitor your participation to ensure you are neither dominating nor disengaging from dialogue.
  • Show respect by “unplugging” from outside distractions while in class. Please put your phone on silent when entering class. I encourage you to use your electronic devices to conduct course-related research, access online course materials, and take notes. Be aware that abusing this privilege could result in you being asked to put away all electronic devices indefinitely.
  • Show respect by being honest in your communication and, when relevant, by contributing to group assignments in a meaningful way. Commit to doing your fair share of the workload and expect others to do the same.
Zoom Class Expectations

If we need to hold class sessions on Zoom for a time, consider the Zoom space an extension of our classroom space. Therefore, you will be expected to maintain respectful behavior online consistent with our shared norms of respectful behavior in person. Below are some ways we can demonstrate mutual respect online.

  • Just as we wouldn’t lie on the floor or not wear a shirt during in-person class, we show respect for each other by sitting upright and being appropriately dressed during Zoom sessions.
  • We show respect by not multitasking during class time. Research on the way our brains work shows we aren’t truly “multitasking” anyway; we are task switching (going back and forth between tasks), which means our focus and attention on any given task is distracted and diluted. Therefore, show respect by not doing other work (or being at work or driving!) while we are in class on Zoom.
  • Show respect for one another by having your camera on at all times unless you have a valid reason to turn it off briefly or have gotten permission from me to leave it off. If you need to turn it off for a short time, send me a private chat to let me know in advance if possible. Additionally, be aware of what is in your camera frame and try your best to keep distracting movements from others off camera to the extent possible.
  • Show respect by keeping your microphone muted unless you are speaking. To indicate you wish to speak, use the Raise Hands Reaction in Zoom. If questions arise, you are welcome to type them in chat also.
  • Show respect by logging on by the time class starts and not logging off before class is dismissed. Find ways to contribute that fit your personality and preferences: vocally join the conversation, text in the public chat, participate in polls, use Reactions to affirm others, and, when relevant, participate actively in breakout rooms. I want the class to be meaningfully different because you are a part of it.
Suggested Activity for Setting Mutual Expectations on the First Day of Class

Using a digital tool that allows students to provide feedback anonymously, pose one or more of the following questions for the class to answer on their phone, tablet, or laptop. Tool options to consider include Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, NearPod, and Top Hat (if you’ve adopted Top Hat for your class already).

  • What helps you learn best?
  • What makes a classroom a safe space for you to learn and grow?
  • What gets in the way of you being able to learn effectively?
  • What can the instructor and other students do to support your learning?

Depending on the size of your class, consider having students introduce themselves and share one comment from the exercise that stood out to them and why. If the class is too large for this to occur, ask for volunteers to share so you can limit the time it takes to reflect on the activity.

Transition from the activity to an overall discussion of setting community principles you will all abide by in order to demonstrate mutual respect for each other. Instead of focusing on rules put in place by you, frame the discussion as shared norms created by the class as a whole.

As time allows, connect syllabus language for expectations related to in-class and Zoom behavior to comments shared by students during the class session. Then going forward from the first day, point out misbehavior as violations of shared community principles, not as violations of arbitrary rules set by you as the instructor.

Finally, address misbehaviors the first time they occur; they typically escalate when ignored.