Julie’s Inbox

February
2012
Julie Adams, Executive Director

Dear Julie,

Our Foreign Language Department wants to offer its two highest levels of Spanish concurrently because the two classes do not get enough enrollment to survive individually, but the dean is saying that offering the classes together would be a violation of Title 5. What are the regulations or limits regarding the offering of concurrent classes (two or more classes taught in the same place at the same time by the same instructor, such as multiple levels of a class sequence being combined)?

RLCC

Dear RLCC,

This question has arisen frequently since colleges have begun to think about how to adapt their curriculum in light of upcoming changes to repeatable courses. Various disciplines may wish to create levels of courses or different courses out of those courses that were formerly repeatable, but in order to meet enrollment minimums some of those new levels or courses may need to be offered concurrently.

Title 5 and Education Code do not specifically offer any guidance regarding concurrent courses. The most important factor to consider in offering classes in this manner is that all statewide and local curricular standards must be met for all of the courses included. For example, the total enrollment for the combined courses should not exceed the enrollment maximum set for any of the courses when they are offered separately. The objectives outlined in the Course Outline of Record for each class must also be met to avoid any lowering of instructional quality. Likewise, the instructor must meet minimum qualifications for all of the courses being offered together. Although the courses are being taught in the same place and by one person, the standards and expectations set by the college and instructor qualifications determined by the state for each individual class must still be respected.

In addition to these requirements, colleges should consider carefully the logic of combining the instruction of the specific courses. In some cases, joining multiple levels of a course sequence may make perfect sense, and indeed those students enrolled in lower levels might benefit from exposure to more experienced students. In other cases, however, the education of the more advanced students might be inhibited if too much time is occupied with students working at significantly lower levels. Likewise, if the courses being offered concurrently are too diverse in their content, the workload of the instructor may be unfairly increased and the quality of the instruction therefore could be compromised. Thus, while offering courses concurrently may be a logical and even beneficial option in some cases, it could in other instances be detrimental to the experience of the students, and faculty should therefore weigh these factors carefully before deciding to combine instruction in this manner.

Good luck, Executive Committee

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