Independent Study and Team Initiated Study
The purpose of Independent Study and Team Initiated Study courses is to provide students with the opportunity to study topics not ordinarily covered in regular College course offerings, to follow up on previous research, or to undertake projects not otherwise available through regular courses. These studies also may be concerned with more narrowly defined or more advanced material than that offered in regular courses. They must increase knowledge beyond that already gained, enhance analytical ability, and/or lead to higher skills acquisition. An Independent Study or Team Initiated Study need not be in the student’s major field of study, but requires sufficient background knowledge for analysis or description within a conceptual framework, i.e., aesthetic, ethical, historical, literary, scientific, sociological, etc.
Students should consult with a Faculty Sponsor during the thinking and planning stages of the study to help develop a course syllabus that is rigorous, has clear and measurable goals, and that includes clear assessment guidelines upon completion of the work. Together, the Faculty member and student(s) will develop a course syllabus for the study, which will be submitted to the Program Coordinator for review. The faculty sponsor must be from the Program in which the study is to be conducted. Faculty members are limited to involvement with a maximum of two (2) Independent Studies or Team Initiated Studies in any one (1) term.
Each academic program is responsible for providing guidelines and/or forms to students and faculty for the process required within the academic unit to review and approve Independent and Team Initiated studies.
In addition, the Academic Program Council and College Faculty Assembly have set the following restrictions. Independent Studies and Team Initiated studies:
- may be proposed only by Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors who are not on any type of probation (academic, social, or labor).
- cannot duplicate courses listed in the current Catalog & Student Handbook.
- cannot be used to meet the Practical Reasoning (PR/PRQ) or any Perspective Area in the General Education Program.
- may carry one (1) earned course credit; studies carrying earned credit have the following minimum GPA requirements at the time the study is approved: Sophomores, 3.00; Juniors or Seniors, 2.50.
- may be approved as not-for-earned-credit (available only in Summer terms) provided the Sophomore, Junior, or Senior has a minimum 2.00 overall GPA at the time the study is approved.
- may meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement (see below).
Students who wish to propose an Independent or Team Initiated study to meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement in the General Education Program must complete the ALE Criteria and Proposal form (which is attached to the Independent Study and Team Initiated Study guidelines in the Self-Serve Room, 101 Lincoln) along with their proposed syllabus to the ALE Coordinator (currently Rebecca Bates), who will be looking for these components:
- How well does the study explore the connections between theory and practice?
- Does the study include an ongoing reflection component (e.g., journal, blog, photo journal, or extensive interaction with onsite resource)?
- Does the study include a synthesizing project (performance, play, presentation, composition, or exhibition, including interaction with the on-site adviser or other on-site audiences).
Independent Studies are carried out by one student; Team Initiated Studies are carried out by two or more students. For-credit studies are designated as GST or (discipline pre-fix i.e., ART/CFS, etc.) 390/490 for Independent Study and 397/497 for Team Initiated Study, followed by an “A” for an ALE credit and B a non-ALE credit course. Independent and Team Initiated Studies also may be proposed as non-credit for Summer terms (which can carry only ALE credit, but do not count in the minimum of 32 earned credits needed to graduate). Some types of non-credit studies are also eligible for ALE credit. Non-credit Independent Studies are designated as GST or (discipline pre-fix) 090 (A with ALE; B without ALE credit) and GST or (discipline pre-fix) 097 (A with ALE; B without ALE) for Team Initiated Studies.
Proposals under the General Studies rubric (GST) must demonstrate clearly the interdisciplinary nature of the project or be for disciplines not offered at Berea (provided there is a qualified Berea faculty member available to sponsor the study and it is approved by the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning). Otherwise, the student(s) should determine which academic program best fits the goals and scope of the study.
Studies involving international travel require consultation with and the signature of the Education Abroad Advisor and of the college's Student Health provider. Students on F-1 visas also must have the signature of the International Student Adviser for any off-campus study. Studies involving a budget for expenses must be reviewed and approved by a counselor in the Student Financial Aid Services Office. No institutional funding will be provided for Independent Studies or Team Initiated Studies in international settings. (See “Education Abroad Policies” under Student Rights and Responsibilities for more information.)
With the approval of the Program Coordinator, the course syllabus will be submitted for registration to the Registrar. (See above eligibility requirements concerning probation and minimum GPA that must be met before the study can be registered.)