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The original cross-Network policy document was developed by the Cross-Network Policies Working Group in October 2014. The policies were developed primarily to inform the decisions of the Cross-Network Operations Group and to provide guidance to instructors of cross-Network courses. The policies have evolved and were updated in June 2016 to reflect current practices. Hereafter this document will be updated annually in August.

Read the full document below, or jump to a specific section:

CIRTL Offerings
Course Tuition
Incorporation of CIRTL Core Ideas and Learning Outcomes
Attendance Eligibility
Course Credit
Course Minimum
Formal Evaluation
Instructor Qualifications to Teach a CIRTL Network Online Course
Instructor Autonomy
Ownership of Instructional Materials Used in Cross-Network Courses
Student Records
Audio/Video Recording
Accessibility of Cross-Network Courses
Levels of Engagement

CIRTL Offerings

The policies in this document generally refer to cross-Network offerings that require advance registration. These are courses and other multi-session offerings. The term “course” in the rest of the document refers to any offering that requires registration.

Course Tuition

There will be no tuition exchanges among universities for CIRTL courses. (Universities will use their usual policies regarding tuition charges to their own students taking credit-bearing CIRTL courses.) There will be no fees charged by the Network for students from network institutions taking CIRTL cross-Network courses. In the event that non-network students take courses, the network may charge a fee.

Incorporation of CIRTL Core Ideas and Learning Outcomes

The core ideas of Teaching-as-Research, Learning Communities and Learning-through-Diversity are foundational to CIRTL preparation of future faculty. For this reason, these core ideas should be included in all cross-Network offerings that involve multiple sessions (i.e. courses, workshop series). It is recognized that the core ideas will not be included in equal parts in a given offering, but because these ideas are broad, there are many possible ways to incorporate all of them to some extent in the design of a course.

CIRTL courses should reflect the CIRTL learning outcomes. The instructor should specify which of the three levels of CIRTL Participants the course is designed to serve: Fellow, Practitioner, or Scholar.

Attendance Eligibility

CIRTL’s cross-Network courses, workshops, institutes, and other enrollment-limited programming are open only to participants from member institutions or participants who are CIRTL alumni. CIRTL MOOCs and events without an enrollment cap are open to the general public. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis.

All students wishing to enroll should indicate their interest by completing the registration form which can be found on our website during each semester’s registration period.

Course Credit

CIRTL itself will not grant credit for courses. Each network institution will establish a policy on whether CIRTL Network courses may be taken for local credit.

For institutions allowing credit, students may participate with or without credit, as they prefer. Students are expected to register for the course with CIRTL and complete all work regardless of whether they receive formal course credit.

Students who wish to receive course credit will register for a course (e.g. independent study) at their home institutions under a faculty member designated by their local CIRTL Network campus leaders.

Students taking a course for credit will be required to submit a grade request form to CIRTL by the end of the second week in the semester. At the end of the course, the instructor will communicate with the supervising faculty member at the student’s home institution and provide a grade recommendation.

Credit will generally be available only for CIRTL offerings for which students register and in which students have to produce work products.

The credit for all such offerings will be determined by the local institution in a way that is consistent with comparable work done locally. When a course is proposed, the instructor will be asked to make a recommendation about the number of credit hours that each course fulfills on this definition.  The recommendation will be based on the 2009 Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) established a federal definition of a “credit hour,” with which all institutions of higher education that receive Title IV funding (i.e. federal student financial aid programs) must comply (HEOA Final Regulations, 34 CFR §600.24):

“[o]ne hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or an equivalent amount of work, established by the institution, for other academic activities including `laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.’ ”

Whether or not the course is taken for credit, CIRTL will issue certification that the course has been completed successfully.

The decision of the supervising faculty member about grades is final. Any appeal will follow policies of the student’s institution.

Course Minimum

A course will be canceled if the enrollment is fewer than ten participants. Exceptions to this policy can be made on a course-by-course basis with consent of instructor and CIRTL Central.

Formal Evaluation

Courses and course instructors:

  • Each course will be evaluated in order to aid the institutional leader and the Cross-Network Operations Group in making decisions about this course or instructor in the future.
  • To inform this evaluation, the instructor will complete a course reflection form within one month of completion of the course. The instructor and his or her institutional leader or co-leader together will review the course syllabus and course evaluation surveys completed by students at the end of each course and will complete the reflection. The reflection is to identify successful aspects of the course as well as any problems to address in future offerings.
  • The completed document will be forwarded to the Cross-Network Operations Group (CNOG).  In order to assure quality of CIRTL offerings, the CNOG will examine Course Evaluations from students and Reflections from instructors after each term.  CNOG is responsible for ensuring that any major issues raised in the Course Evaluations are addressed in the Instructor Reflection.

Other cross-Network Programming:

All cross-Network offerings must be evaluated.  Evaluation must include some form of a student evaluation. Additionally, instructors must reflect on their own experience and provide to the CNOG some kind of an analysis of their student evaluations.

Instructor Qualifications to Teach a CIRTL Network Online Course

Instructor qualifications

Desirable: Instructors have a full-time appointment with a CIRTL member institution either as faculty or staff and have a doctoral degree in a STEM discipline or in education/pedagogy, as well as experience in teaching and designing and/or executing on-line coursework. Instructors will have familiarity with the CIRTL core ideas and involvement in local CIRTL activities.

Minimum expected: Instructors have an appointment with a CIRTL member institution as faculty or staff and have a doctoral degree, experience in teaching, and familiarity with CIRTL as above.  If not already experienced in designing and/or executing on-line coursework, the instructor should commit to obtaining preparation. CIRTL Central staff will assist with mechanics of using the on-line platform, but cannot provide preparation about instructional methods suitable for on-line courses. Instructors should utilize local resources for this.

Process: Institutional leaders should approve the course proposal before submission to CIRTL Central. If instructor qualifications vary from the minimum expected, the institutional leader will be asked to attach a memorandum citing this instructor’s unique capabilities to teach this course.

Future faculty led programming

While most CIRTL Cross-Network programming is facilitated by faculty or staff at CIRTL member institutions, the opportunity to facilitate programming at a national scale can be a valuable professional development opportunity for graduate students and postdocs (“future faculty”). The goal of this policy is to provide well-prepared future faculty with additional facilitation experience that is sponsored and supported by their institutional leader(s).

To achieve this goal, a maximum of two cross-Network programs each term may be led by future faculty under the following conditions:

  1. The institutional leader or administrative co-leader will submit the programming proposal on behalf of the future faculty facilitator. The proposer is responsible for the quality of the programming and is expected to provide guidance, as needed, to the future faculty facilitator about the development and delivery of the program.

  2. The proposal submitter will be responsible for ensuring the future faculty facilitator is qualified and prepared for this experience, attesting that:

    1. The future faculty facilitator has participated in CIRTL programming at their local institution and/or through cross-Network programming.

    2. The future faculty facilitator has prior experience facilitating their proposed offering at their local institution.

  3. The types of programming facilitated by future faculty are limited to workshops, CIRTLCasts, and other drop-in events. Courses, MOOCs, or institutes can be co-facilitated with an instructor qualified under section 1 of CIRTL’s instructor qualification policy.

Instructor Autonomy

The instructor has the lead role in designing a cross-Network course.

Proposals to teach a cross-Network course will be submitted via the CNC. The instructor will provide information about the major topics to be covered, the delivery mode (e.g., synchronous, asynchronous), the expected workload (hours per week), the target enrollment, how much course credit will be offered, assessment methods, and learning outcomes.

Before submitting the request, the instructor should receive the approval of the local Institutional Leader.

Instructors should normally design courses that will accommodate a minimum class size of about 25. Smaller class sizes will be considered if appropriate on pedagogical grounds.

The request will be considered by the Cross Network Operation Group, who may suggest modifications in consultation with the instructor. Final approval to offer the course will rest with this group.

Ownership of Instructional Materials Used in Cross-Network Courses

Course material ownership rules of the instructor’s institution are primary. In general, authors or their institutions own, and may copyright, course materials.

Course materials will indicate authorship and date, and for revisions, the revising author, revision number and date.

CIRTL will maintain a database of courses, instructors, and materials used in cross-Network courses. Authors should expect their materials to be reused freely by other instructors within the network. Any instructor reusing material should cite previous authors.

Authors may control dissemination of their course materials outside the network, but may not use the CIRTL brand without permission.

Authors should obtain permission to use copyrighted instructional materials produced by others.

Student Records

Students taking a CIRTL course for credit from their home institution will register for the appropriate independent study or special topics course at that institution.

Students taking a CIRTL course for credit will produce a body of work that will be graded by the course instructor.

This work can be shared with the faculty member at the home institution who is responsible for assigning the course grade.

The number of students (credit seeking and non-credit seeking) who enroll in a CIRTL course will be shared with the home institution.

Students will be alerted that by registering, they give permission for CIRTL to provide their names to the institutional leader at the home institution if they successfully complete the course.

Names of students completing a course are privileged information and should not be shared with anyone other than the institutional leader (including a student’s research advisor) without the student’s permission.

Audio/Video Recording


  • The facility for recording in Zoom currently does not allow security or confidentiality of the recording once a URL pointing to that recording has been issued. Consequently, FERPA protection cannot be completely guaranteed.
  • Nevertheless, recognizing the advantages of recording for students who miss a class, and instructors who may wish to review and improve their classes, CIRTL will record Zoom class sessions. Instructors will be made aware of the need for confidentiality, stemming from the sensitivity of students to their participation in the class and how their recorded comments and/or images may be perceived. URLs will then be provided to the instructor, who, upon a request from a student, may provide the URL for a particular session if the student has a valid reason. Students will be instructed by the instructor not to share that URL.
  • URLs may not be shared with other instructors or CIRTL leaders or individuals who are not in the class.
  • Students and instructors may not record classes themselves.
  • This policy should not be construed to prevent discussion boards or other textual conversations between students and instructors, but these should be done in a secure environment such as Zoom, so that they can be deleted at the end of a course.

Other CN Programming:

  • CIRTLCasts and TAR Capstone sessions will be recorded. Other courses may be recorded at the discretion of the instructors.

Accessibility of Cross-Network Courses

CIRTL on-line courses and events and their associated materials will be accessible to students, faculty, and staff with disabilities who participate or attend a CIRTL sponsored event, course or activity. CIRTL programs are designed and developed to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

To comply with federal and state laws on accessibility, electronic and information technology acquisitions will be compliant with Federal (Section 508) standards ( and the most accessible product or service selected unless a specific exemption applies.

Compliance with this policy is the shared responsibility of CIRTL Central, the host institution, where the instructor is located, and the partner institution, where the student is located.

Levels of Engagement

CIRTL programming is broken into three levels of engagement: Low, high, and extensive. Events and workshops tend to be low engagement, courses tend to be high engagement, and TAR projects tend to be extensive. The table below has additional detail on these levels.

Contact hours Low
1-8 hours
8-15 hours
Other hours of engagement with content (e.g. projects, reading, peer review, asynchronous discussions) 0-2 hours 5-10 hours 15+ hours
Structure *generally single session * multiple sessions
* single semester
* infrequent sessions over 1 year
* 2 or more semester program
Sophistication of content * introductory
* intermediate
* introductory
* intermediate
* advanced
* intermediate
* advanced
Examples * Coffee Hour
* roundtable dinner
* brownbag discussion
* limited mentorship
* evening or all-day workshop
* semester course
* multiple session workshop series
* semester or year-long seminar
* TAR project
* capstone TAR internship
* CIRTL-based certification
* several courses or T&L internships

Original policies developed by Cross-Network Policies Working Group, 10/2014 consisting of Cynthia Brame (Vanderbilt), Sue Bloomfield (Texas A&M), Chuck Kutal (U Georgia), Rob Linsenmeier (Northwestern), chair, Bob Mathieu, ex officio, Robin Greenler, ex officio.