Student Led Courses

SLC Guidelines for Student Teachers, Faculty Advisors and Student Learners

In a Student Led Course (SLC), two or more student instructors, usually accompanied by student Course Assistants (CAs), design and lead a Special Topics Course for enrolled student learners.  SLCs require the supervision of at least two Olin faculty advisors: a content advisor (ultimately the instructor of record, responsible for assigning final grades to all student learners) and the pedagogical advisor (responsible for working with the student teachers on matters of teaching approaches, and also responsible for assigning grades to the student teachers).  The policies that govern SLCs are described in the course catalog.  These guidelines are intended to offer some additional information and instructions to help students and faculty plan and implement their SLC activities.

Guidelines for the Student Teachers

Student teachers are committing to a major responsibility when they agree to offer a SLC.  SLCs at Olin have an excellent track record of providing inspiring, effective learning experiences thanks to the efforts of the student teachers.

Student teachers:

  • Must have knowledge and experience sufficient to design and lead the class.
  • Must have teaching experience, minimally one semester as a Course Assistant and preferably training in pedagogical methods and curriculum design.
  • Must register for an ISR-G, up to 4 credits, for a letter grade.  These credits can count as either AHS credit (assuming one of the supervising faculty members is credentialed to give such credit) or as general degree credit.
  • Cannot be paid.
  • Must be in good academic standing, and cannot be enrolled in more than 16 credits, including the SLC.

SLC Course Assistants (CAs) do not earn academic credit, but may be paid via the policies of CAs for other courses.  Also, SLC CAs cannot be enrolled in more than 18 credits.

An SLC teaching team requires at least two faculty advisors.  Once the faculty members agree to participate, the student teachers must prepare an SLC proposal according to the guidelines available here. The proposal is due one week prior to the course fair for the semester in which the SLC is to be taught.

Throughout the semester of the SLC, the teaching team must document all course activities along with student performance. This internal documentation is especially important for the content faculty advisor who is responsible for assigning grades to the students taking the course. In addition, following the SLC, employers, members of the Olin community, or other interested parties might want to learn more about what was covered in this class, who was involved, and what they did.  As a result, internal and external documentation of the course is a critical component of designing and executing the SLC. 

Guidelines for the Faculty Advisors

Each SLC must have at least one faculty advisor who acts as a content advisor, that is, as someone familiar with the discipline in general and with the course subject in particular.  Also, a SLC requires at least one faculty advisor to act as a pedagogical advisor, that is, as someone with enough experience in the field of education to advise and assess the teaching team as they develop and deliver the course.

The supervising faculty members should only agree to serve as an instructor of record if the following conditions are met:

  • The faculty members have enough time to work with students in planning, supervising, and assessing the SLC.
  • The proposed SLC topic and approach lie within the faculty member’s area of expertise.
  • The proposed SLC topic and approach seem promising and worthwhile.
  • The proposal meets all SLC requirements as outlined in the course catalog and the SLC Proposal Guidelines (see below)

Once the faculty advisors are on board, the student instructors must work with them before and during the SLC.  The specific form of this collaboration will vary, but the faculty advisors must be satisfied that all SLC goals, activities, student work, and assessments are being conducted in an appropriate manner.

The faculty member serving as content advisor is solely responsible for assigning all grades to student learners, and the pedagogical advisor is solely responsible for assigning all grades to student instructors. 

Guidelines for the Student Learners

Student learners are expected to treat an SLC like any other Olin class, in terms of time spent on classwork, quality of work produced, abiding by the honor code, and in all other respects, and the vast majority of their interactions throughout the semester will be with the student teachers.  Student learners earn the number of credits determined by the student instructors and faculty advisors, based on the expected number of hours of productive work required.  These credits may be applied toward credit requirements in Math, Science, AHS, Entrepreneurship, or Engineering, subject to approval by the faculty advisors in conjunction with other faculty (such as members of the curriculum working group).

If a SLC is offered and taken for a grade, it may be used to satisfy a course requirement, including part of an Engineering, AHS, or Entrepreneurship concentration, subject to approval.  Although a SLC may be used to satisfy a course requirement, getting that approval is a separate step.  In general, the standard for approval is high; a student should not presume, prior to approval, that an SLC will satisfy any course requirement.  There is no strict limit on the number of SLCs that can be used as part of an engineering concentration.  Whether or not an SLC can be used as part of a concentration is determined by the faculty who evaluate concentration plans. 

The SLC PROPOSAL - Use the outline below to develop your proposal.

Student Instructors must develop a proposal using the following outline and submit it to the faculty advisors as early as possible in the semester before the SLC is offered.  Once revised and approved, they will submit it to the Academic Recommendation Board at for official approval as a Special Topics Course.  The Academic Recommendation Board must receive this proposal no later than one week before the course fair, to ensure that the course is approved in time to advertise it to students prior to registration.

SLC title (official Olin course name):

Student teacher and Course Assistants (CAs) information:

  • Names of all Student instructors and CAs
  • Confirm that instructors intend to limit their semester credits to no more than 16 including this SLC (18 for CAs). 
  • For each student teacher, give details of the ISR-G that they will enroll in with the faculty advisor, indicating how many credits they will receive, and whether those credits will count as general credit or AHS disciplinary credit (if the pedagogical advisor is credentialed to give AHS education credit).
  • Detail the pedagogical experience of the teaching team:What prior teaching experience do instructors have?  Have they been CAs for another course?  Have members of the teaching team taken an education/pedagogy class?  Which faculty members would recommend them?

Names of faculty advisors (specify content and pedagogy advisors):

Course topic, learning outcomes, and “big ideas”:

  • In one paragraph explain the subject(s) to be covered by the course and the expected learning outcomes (what will students know or be able to do when they finish the course). 
  • Confirm that this SLC does not duplicate material in any Olin course.
  • Explain the big ideas of the course: Why is this course something Olin students would be interested in taking?  How does the course fit into the existing Olin curriculum?  What approach will you take - how will you use class time and what will happen outside of class?  Why is this the correct approach?

Credits for student learners:

  • Options: two credits or four credits; taken either for general credit or disciplinary credit (specify discipline - must align with faculty sponsor).

Develop a preliminary syllabus for the course:

  • This should include course learning outcomes, course policies, grading scheme, course resources, and a tentative schedule of assignments and activities.

Identify any budget required for the course:

  • For any resources required, provide an estimated cost and justification.  This can include, but not limited to: textbooks, project resources, software, etc.

Create a plan to engage with your faculty advisors:

  • What are your expectations from each advisor - how will they help you, and how will you communicate with them? 
  • What is your meeting schedule?

Plan your documentation:

  • How will you document your process, both for an external audience as well as internally for the teaching team and for future instructors?