Columbia College

Guidance for Instructors

The CIM Form requires information from the proposed instructor on the following categories:

Name of Department/Program: This is the name of the department/program through which the course is being offered regardless of the instructor’s home department.  For example, if the course is offered through History, but the home department of the instructor is Classics, the form should say History.  There are two types of department/program names:

  1. Single Department/Program:  The course is being offered by one department/program. 
  2. Two or More Departments/Programs:  If the course is being offered jointly by two or more departments/programs, all should be listed and the DAAF of one of the departments/programs should contact the Registrar's office, registrar@columbia.edu to have a joint course designator created.  For example, a course being jointly offered by History and Classics should be labeled History/Classics.

Only courses with a joint designator may be fully listed in the school bulletins under both departments. Because the Directory of Classes has no mechanism for duplicate-listing, the course will not appear in either department’s list of courses, but rather will appear with its own subject area, i.e., History/Classics.

Subfield:  Not all departments have subfields, but please include this information if applicable.  For example, a course might have Political Science as its department name and American Politics as its subfield.

Term(s) to be Offered:  There are several types of term offerings:

  1. Single-Term:  The course is offered one term. 
  2. Dual Term:  The course is offered both terms.  There are two types of dual term offerings:
    1. Fall or Spring: The course is offered both terms with the same content and students are only required to take one term.  For example CHEM UN1500 General chemistry laboratory is offered both in the fall and in the spring and students are required to take one term of it.
    2. Fall and Spring: This is a year-long course in which the first term is a prerequisite for the second term and both terms are required.  For example AHIS UN3997 Senior thesis is a year-long course and students must enroll in both terms.  Normally credit for year-long courses is not granted until both terms have been completed.

Points:  Points are determined by a formula established by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and are based on the number of contact hours with the instructor and the amount of work required outside of class.  Per NYSED, one point of credit is granted for each hour (50 minutes) per week of contact time with the instructor and 30 hours of outside work for the semester.  Normally lecture courses carry three points of credit and seminars carry three or four points of credit—depending upon whether there is a sufficient load of independent work to compensate for fewer contact hours and the extra point of credit.  Check with your DAAF to determine the norm for your department.  If the course is something other than a lecture or a seminar, check with the DAAF for the point valuations used by the department for similar courses. For further guidance on determining course points, please see Guidance on Course Points.

Course Title:  Please include the full title of the course.  Keep in mind when constructing a title that while the school bulletins do not have a character limit, the Directory of Classes does.  Generally course titles should be succinct.  There are two types of course titles:

  1. Stand Alone:  This is the most common type of course title.  For example, Russian music from Glinka to Gubaidulina.
  2. Multiple Topic: This is used in instances where there are several courses with the same main title but each course number or section has a different topic.  For example,
    1. Physics I: mechanics and relativity; Physics II:  thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism; Physics III: classical and quantum waves
    2. Topics in American studies: history of the Supreme Court; Topics in American studies: writing September 11, narratives and arguments; Topics in American studies: equity in American higher education.

Instructor(s):  The full name of the instructor should be included.  All instructor names must be included in cases where the course is team-taught.  Please note that if an instructor is a newly appointed non-regular faculty member (e.g. adjunct, lecturer, visitor, etc.), his or her CV must be included in the course proposal packet.

Course Type:  These are the most common types of courses:

  1. Lecture: Meets twice a week for a total of 150 minutes. It is expected that lecture courses will have a midterm and final exam as minimum requirements, and will include a substantial and appropriate reading load.  Lecture classes are usually taken for three points of credit.
  2. Seminar: Meets once a week for a total of 110 minutes. It is expected that seminars will require a lengthy final paper and will require more independent work than lecture courses. Seminars are usually taken for 4 points of credit.
  3. Colloquium: Meets once a week for a total of 110 minutes. It is expected that colloquia will require a lengthy final paper. Typically a colloquium includes more faculty presentation than a seminar but more independent work than a lecture. Colloquia are usually taken for 4 points of credit.
  4. Language: Includes any course whose primary purpose is language instruction, including conversation courses, even if the course focuses on a particular topic as a medium for language instruction. 
  5. Laboratory: Courses may be stand-alone for credit (such as Lab in cell and developmental biology) or attached to another course, usually a lecture, for no credit (such as Experimental psychology: human behavior lab).
  6. Fieldwork: Includes courses whose main goal is for the students to work outside of the classroom, normally as a group with instructor oversight.  For example Field geology; Student teaching in urban schools; and Geological excursion to Death Valley, CA are considered fieldwork courses.
  7. Studio: Includes skill-based courses such as Architectural design, I; Ballet, I; Instrument instruction; and Painting, I.

Additional Class Meetings:  Please indicate if the course requires meetings in addition to regular class meetings.  Note that normally films will be viewed outside of the regular class meeting. 

Prerequsites/Corequisites: Corequisites are courses that must be taken in conjunction with this course.  Prerequisites are courses that must be completed prior to registering for this course.

Proposed Enrollment Limit: Enrollment limits are expected for seminars, studios, language, laboratory, and fieldwork courses.  They may also be used for lecture courses as needed.  The enrollment limits not only serve as a means to control registration in the course, but also provide the Registrar with guidelines for finding an appropriate room for the course.

Enrollment Priority: If the course has an enrollment limit, please explain how it will be implemented.  For example, priority might be given to senior majors or to students with previous work in the field.  Alternatively, admission to the course may be determined by application.

Requirements: It is important to communicate clearly to students what the course requirements are and how grades will be calculated based on these requirements.  When course requirements are not articulated, students can form false impressions and expectations.  Please be explicit and explain your requirements as fully as possible.  In particular, please clearly state what percentage of the grade will be based on each component of the requirements.

Depending on course type, typical components of course requirements include the following:

  • Attendance: It is expected that students will attend class.  Although a policy on absence should be provided on the syllabus, attendance in class should not be a substantive basis for grading.
  • Participation: If you choose to assign a participation grade to students, please provide students with clear guidelines regarding your expectations, as well as evaluative feedback throughout the semester.
  • Examinations: Final examinations must be administered during the exam period. 
  • Presentations: If a proportion of the grade is allocated to an in-class presentation, please convey graded feedback on the presentation to students.
  • Weekly readings: Be sure to assign preparatory homeworks and/or readings for each class that correspond to the workload expectation of the course. For a three-point course, students are expected to conduct a minimum of six hours of work outside of the classroom. For a four-point course, students should conduct a minimum of eight hours of outside work. It is not atypical for students to take three hours to complete 150 pages of readings, depending on the density of the texts.
  • Written work: It is the expectation of the COI that students will be required to submit a substantive final paper for a seminar or colloquium. Students should receive timely evaluations of their written work.

It is a COI expectation that undergraduates will receive substantive evaluations of their academic work and progress during the semester and that such evaluations will be consistent with the principles applied in determining the final grade for the course.  All undergraduate courses should have some graded work required prior to or around the midterm point of the semester (even in seminars) so that students may understand their instructors' evaluation of their academic performance in the course thus far. In no case should 100% of the grade be based on end-of-term work.

The instructor should include the following attachments to the form:

1.  a syllabus that contains the following information:

  • course and instructor information
  • course description, overview, and goals
  • course requirements and grading (include weighting of assignments and deadlines).  A lecture course should minimally require a midterm and final exam.  A seminar should minimally include a lengthy final paper as well as a graded outline or draft due around the middle of the term.
  • weekly breakdown of topics and readings, with publication information for readings
  • class and university policies, including a statement on academic integrity and information for students with disabilities:

2.  a curriculum vita if the course is being taught by an adjunct or visiting faculty member

Should instructors have any questions about planning a new course and structuring its syllabus, please contact the COI staff at cc-gs-courses@columbia.edu.

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PDF icon CIM form guidebook801.78 KB