The instructor provides a Course Syllabus and the Basic Course Information (BCI) document (i.e., for a credit or developmental course) to each enrolled student during the first week of the semester. These may be provided as paper copies or online links. An online Course Syllabus is sometimes available before a class starts. In general, the Basic Course Information applies to all of Polk State’s sections of a particular course and is available online through the website. By contrast, the Course Syllabus contains information that pertains to an individual section, and each syllabus varies by professor or section.
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 online (polk.edu/BCI) and can be easily accessed by typing in a 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 BCIs 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 contact information for the appropriate Academic Dean, the College’s mission statement, and General Education or program outcomes. 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 is also included regarding the College’s policies and rules for cases of academic dishonesty, withdrawal from a course, computer and network usage, and other important items. 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 describes the specific policies of the instructor teaching a course, and thus each is unique to a particular course section. 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, absences, and missed tests, as well as the course evaluative criteria. The Course Syllabus serves as a contract between the instructor and student; as such, 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 during the semester, he or she should refer to the Course Syllabus as the document that specifies how that type of 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.