A faculty member provides each officially enrolled student with the course syllabus and the basic course information document for credit and college developmental courses offered at the College. These documents are supplied during the first week of the semester, and may be provided as a paper copy or via online links. Distance Learning courses are typically available one week before classes start allowing students to review the syllabus and course content. In general, basic course information documents include information that is common to all sections of that particular course. By contrast, the course syllabus contains information that pertains to an individual section and each document varies by professor.
The Basic Course Information Document (BCI)
The basic course information (BCI) document, contains general information about a class and its particular properties as delivered at Polk State College. For reference, all BCI documents are located on the Polk State website under the link for Academics. Course-specific BCI documents can be easily accessed at any time by typing in the course prefix and number into a search within the direct link to the BCI Catalog. There is a link on the PASSPORT page to search BCI’s as well. It is the responsibility of the student to read the BCI for each course and become familiar with its information. The contents of the BCI include the official course description and credit value, the name of the Academic Dean and his or her location on the campus, the College mission, and a list of General Education outcomes students may expect to work toward during the course. In addition, a list of specific course objectives that are common to all sections of the course is also provided. Each BCI provides personnel contacts for students with disabilities and an overview of provisions for access to student academic assistance. General information regarding the College’s policies and rules for cases of academic dishonesty, withdrawal from a course, computer and network usage, and other important items are also described. Many BCI documents also contain a section that describes the specific policies of the department or program in which the course is taught.
The Course Syllabus
The course syllabus is a document that describes the specific policies of the instructor teaching the course, and thus each is unique to a particular course section (class). The course syllabus contains the professor’s contact information, the times and days of in-person and online office hours, a list of course textbooks and supplemental materials, a tentative schedule of topics covered during the semester, the date of the final exam, the last day for withdrawal, and a tentative calendar for tests and major assignments. Additionally, the course syllabus provides an instructor’s specific policies regarding academic dishonesty, missed work, missed tests, and evaluative criteria. The course syllabus serves as a contract between the instructor and student, and it is essential for the student to carefully read the specific requirements, policies, and consequences explained. In the unlikely event that a student has an issue or problem during the semester, he or she should refer to the syllabus as the document that specifies how the situation is to be handled. In addition to course policies, many instructors include helpful strategies for success, websites for assistance, supplemental resources, and more specific information about assignments during the semester.