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Grading and Awarding Credit (page 2)

See below for more information on:

  • course syllabus,
  • evidence used in awarding credit, and
  • transfer of credit from other institutions.

Faculty-Developed Course Syllabi and Student’s End of Course Self-Assessment

Beginning February 1, 2015, all enrolling WISR students, and many continuing WISR students, will have their studies guided by the faculty-developed course syllabi.  These syllabi allow considerable latitude for personalizing the student’s learning experience, while also directing students to learn important content and to achieve key learning objectives through some required readings and assignments.  In addition, each student will develop a personalized plan with their faculty adviser for a major learning project and paper that builds and connects with the requirements outlined in the course syllabus.  

The student’s studies in the course will be further guided by, and at the end of the course, self-evaluated by the student by a set of questions that are designed to benefit the student in at least the following several ways:

1) they will become more conscious about what they learned, and about what did and didn’t work well in their learning process; 2) they will begin to draft their narrative transcript; 3) they will keep track of how their learning is contributing to their degree requirements and learning objectives, and WISR’s expectations of students for learning in the core meta-competencies; and 4) they will begin work on their required annotated bibliography.

Early in their studies, students will often have to re-write their self-assessment drafts, but it is expected that with some practice, only one draft will be necessary.  Students should plan to spend about two hours in drafting each end of course self-assessment. Faculty sign the student’s “end of course self-assessment” and attest to the accuracy of the descriptive parts of the self-assessment.

End of Course Student Self-Assessment [click on link to left to download the form in .docx format; click here to download a version for older Word file .doc formats]:

1)       What was (were) the purpose(s)of this project or course of study?

This includes any WISR or State MFT/LPCC (if applicable) requirements that were being addressed.  If the latter, include a brief statement about the content of those requirements?

2)      What were the main activities you pursued during this course of study—that is describe (if applicable) the areas in which you read, work done in a practicum, internship or on the job, community-based or self-directed research (e.g., interviews conducted and with whom, networking pursued, observations made, etc.); personal reflection and note-taking; multimedia production; workshops taken; etc. This can usually be done in two to four sentences.

3)      Who were the WISR faculty with whom you consulted on this project/area of study?  With each faculty member, write two to four sentences on how they assisted you or contributed to your learning in these studies.  If you have suggestions for how faculty could, in the future, better assist your learning, please add those comments as well.

4)      With whom (if applicable) did you consult from outside WISR faculty—e.g., community residents, agency staff, professional/experts in the field, other academicians, fellow students or WISR alumni.  Write a couple sentences about the contributions of the one or two people who helped you the most, from among those outside of WISR faculty.

5)      If you participated in workshops, conferences or community events outside of WISR that contributed to these studies/this project please indicate and list those events/activities, and write a couple sentences about the one or two that were most significant and important.

6)      If you participated in any WISR seminars important to your learning in this area, please list those, and again write a couple of sentences about their contribution to your learning in this area.

7)      Write a one paragraph (three to five sentences) abstract of the paper you wrote.

8)      Write the month you began these studies, the month completed, and write a rough draft of the description of this project (three to seven sentences) of the “course description” that will later be refined when  you help write your narrative transcript prior to receiving your degree.

9)      Thinking back on the process of your learning during this project/course of study, please write two or three sentences about each of the following:  a) how did your plans or ideas about what you wanted to do change over time and why? b) what were the positive things, if any, that came out of these changes in plans or intentions about what you wanted to do? c) if you were going to do this project again, what would you do differently given what you now know?

10)   Write five to seven sentences on the main things that you learned and accomplished, and add two or three sentences that highlight the main evidence you would point to that demonstrates your learning and/or accomplishments.

11)    Write two to four sentences on how your learning and accomplishments relate to one or more of WISR’s core areas or thematic concerns:  theories and strategies of social change, participatory/qualitative action-research, multiculturality, adult/community/higher education (for PhD students), counseling and marriage and family therapy (for MFT/LPCC students), liberal education (for BA students, including humanities and natural sciences, as well as other areas of general education), writing skills, and learning skills (including theory-practice integration, self-directed learning and collaborative learning).

12)   For most projects (unless the project only involves reflection and writing, or internship/community involvement and writing), attach a reading list, and write an annotated bibliography of the two or three most important readings.  Also, tell us about the ways in which you gained access to readings (e.g., WISR library, public library or other university library, internet, readings given to you by WISR faculty, fellow students, friends or co-workers, purchase of books, use of any special data bases, etc.).

The evidence used in awarding credit may be of several kinds:

Faculty Observation of Student Performance in Doing Required and Recommended Course Assignments

Through the kinds of evidence listed below, and also in discussions with students in one-on-one mentoring and in seminars, as well as by student submission of course assignments, faculty observations provide a very important form of evidence. WISR faculty are in an excellent position to evaluate the quality and quantity of student work, and the extent to which the student is meeting course learning objectives, progressing toward degree program objectives, and further developing themselves in one or more of WISR’s meta-competencies.

End-of-Course Self Assessments Written and Submitted by Students

As discussed above, student self-assessments at the end of the course provide a further presentation and analysis of the evidence of the student’s learning in the course.  These self-assessment themselves further contribute to student learning, and they provide a valuable perspective that highlights and summarizes some of the most student’s most important  activities during the course, their main areas of learning, and significant accomplishments. End of Course Student Self-Assessment [click on link to left to download the form in .docx format; click here to download a version for older Word file .doc formats]

Academic papers.

Most evidence of student academic work takes this form, in part, at least. Papers may be analyses of intellectual or professional issues of interest to the student, critiques of readings s/he has done, critical analyses of community projects, detailed plans for educational or community projects, reports of research on community problems or issues, records of research interviews by the student about issues in professional or personal development, combinations of these types, or other serious efforts negotiated by the student and her or his faculty adviser.

Professional work and community work.

WISR grants credit based on evidence of students’ educational thought and growth that emerges in the student’s community and professional work. For example, documents acceptable as bases for academic credit include evaluations of the student’s community and professional work by a co-worker, especially when that work was specifically discussed with the faculty adviser as a part of the student’s learning program.

Current written, reflective analyses of prior and current experiences.

WISR does not grant credit for prior learning experiences, alone, only for the current learning involved with written, reflective analyses of prior experiences.  In addition, WISR does not grant credit for on-the-job activity in general, or even for achievements in the student’s work life, unless that activity has been subjected to ongoing, critical discussion by the student and the faculty adviser, for its intellectual and ethical significance, its relation to the student’s goals, and its significance for community improvement and social change. In some cases, the student’s work amounts to a faculty-supervised internship in her or his workplace, or in a community organization. In other cases, students may write reflective, critical analyses of insights and knowledge they have developed through previous professional and community  involvements, or even through life experiences, in general.  For example, some students will write what amounts to an intellectual autobiography.  In such cases, students receive credit for the reflection, analysis and writing done while enrolled at WISR, but not for their work or life experiences prior to enrollment. In all cases, however, the faculty adviser must have evidence of the student’s learning from the process, and of a student attitude toward learning in the work/life/community context that goes beyond unreflective performance of a job or the unanalyzed pursuit of daily living.

Multimedia Products.

Evidence of students’ learning may also include audio or video recordings of workshops given by students at their workplaces, of focused discussions on issues relevant to their WISR learning goals, and of seminars led at WISR. Students may use photographs to document their work, or in producing a photographic essay on a topic of importance. Some students have produced documentary videos and films that communicate the results and insights of their research. And, in many cases, students will combine the use of two or more of the following: audio recordings, videos or films, photographs and website development.

Creative, artistic works.

Evidence of students’ learning may also include reproductions or descriptions of creative and artistic products such as videotapes, films, paintings or drawings, murals, sculptures, poems, and other imaginative literary pieces, where those products help to show the student’s thought and imagination in some coherent relation to learning goals.

Faculty, professional and/or community observations of students’ learning.

Credit is granted to students who demonstrate to a faculty member their mastery of a body of knowledge, such as the literature of a subject-area. Students may also submit evidence of what other professionals and community colleagues have observed of their current projects and learning. Student reading-lists in specific subject-areas are included in their learning portfolios as partial evidence of such mastery.

Participation in WISR projects and seminars.

Credit is granted to students for regular participation in a structured series of collaborative and group learning activities, such as WISR’s seminars, workshops, and community projects. In particular, students who participate in one or more seminars and write a critical analysis of the seminar content, process and structure, and assigned readings may receive one unit (or more) of academic credit. Longer, more in-depth papers on topics related to seminars may of course also be eligible for academic credit, depending on faculty review. Faculty, guest speakers or student presenters at seminars may provide papers or related articles, either before or after their seminar, for the participants to read and to refer to during the seminar. Students wishing to receive academic credit may then use these readings for their own analysis and reference.

The number of units students may accrue for seminar participation and analysis is limited. Students pursuing 36 unit MA programs may earn up to 8 units, Doctoral students may earn up to 12 units, and BA students may earn a maximum of 16 units in this way. Any units for seminar participation and analysis beyond these will require special permission from a faculty advisor. Although students in the MFT program have seminars that are specifically designed and required for their program and to meet licensing requirements, they are encouraged to attend other seminars at WISR to earn academic credit–for example, to fulfill the requirements for study in theories of social analysis and change.

Transfer of Credit to WISR from Other Institutions

Undergraduate transfer of credit.

All undergraduate units are accepted when earned by a student from any institution of higher learning accredited by a regional or national agency recognized the US Department of Education.  Academic credit earned from unaccredited institutions, including California licensed institutions, and foreign institutions, will be evaluated on a case by case basis, to determine if the quality of student work is comparable to that of students in many accredited institutions. Specifically, the student may submit evidence of the quality of their previous academic study (e.g., copies of papers or recommendations from academicians who hold accredited doctoral degrees, or evidence of the consistency and quality of the work done by students from the particular unaccredited institution).  Such applicants may also submit professional or scholarly papers or projects that they have produced–which suggest that their previous study was at the level expected of accredited programs. The President will evaluate this evidence, in consultation with one or more members of WISR’s faculty or Board, or in some cases, by consulting with an admissions officer or knowledgeable academic official at an accredited institution of higher learning. WISR’s natural science and humanities breadth requirements may be met by previous academic work at other institutions when the student has had at least eight (8) semester units in either one or both of these areas of study. WISR will also consider for credit course challenge examination results from such nationally recognized standardized tests as the CLEP tests. A maximum of 90 semester units may be transferred.

Graduate transfer of credit.

For WISR’s MFT program, students who have completed academic work which clearly meets State guidelines and WISR’s descriptions of the core courses required for WISR’s MFT MS in Psychology option may then receive up to 12 semester units of transfer credit.  (Students enrolled in the MFT program prior to August 2012 were allowed to transfer at most six semester units of credit.) Courses transferred for students entering the MFT program are evaluated by WISR’s President, usually in consultation with licensed MFT’s on WISR’s faculty, to make certain that the course titles/descriptions closely parallel State guidelines, as well as WISR’s descriptions for core MFT courses.  For the purposes of the transferring credit to the MFT program, WISR will accept credit from recognized accredited institutions (as noted above–see “undergraduate transfer of credit”) and also from State licensed Master’s degree programs approved by the State Board of Behavioral Sciences.

In other graduate programs at WISR, each student’s prior graduate study is taken into careful account, in planning out her or his program of study, in order to build on the student’s strengths and avoid duplication of efforts. Some graduate course work is accepted for transfer in such cases. At the request of the prospective student, the President, often in consultation with a Board-appointed subcommittee of two or three Board and/or faculty members, who hold graduate degrees, evaluates the student request for transfer of credit. Credit is accepted for transfer only if it is determined, after examining the student’s transcript(s) and/or samples of the student’s academic work, that the work to be accepted for transfer credit is comparable in substance and quality to work expected at WISR. In addition, academic credit earned from unaccredited institutions, including California licensed institutions, and foreign institutions, will be evaluated on a case by case basis, to determine if the quality of student work is comparable to that of students in many accredited institutions. Specifically, the student may submit evidence of the quality of their previous academic study (e.g., copies of papers or recommendations from academicians who hold accredited doctoral degrees, or evidence of the consistency and quality of the work done by students from the particular unaccredited institution).  Such applicants may also submit professional or scholarly papers or projects that they have produced–which suggest that their previous study was at the level expected of accredited programs. The President will evaluate this evidence, in consultation with one or more members of WISR’s faculty or Board, or in some cases, by consulting with an admissions officer or knowledgeable academic official at an accredited institution of higher learning.