Policies for Faculty in Campus & Field Trip Courses

Topics and Format:

An IL course will require most of a student's time for the 14 class days of the IL term. The topic must be engaging and amenable to a diversity modes of instruction, participation, and experience. Experiential and service learning components are encouraged. In general, if the same topic could be taught using similar outcomes and modes of instruction in a regular term, it is not sufficiently adapted for the IL term. See more below.


Students register for Campus and Field Trip courses at the same time and using the same method as registration for courses in any regular term. Registration opens in November and continues through the first day of class. The minimum number of students for a campus IL is six. The cap is 15.

Class Meetings:

Campus and field trip courses are expected to follow the official May Term calendar, meeting for 14 days. In a regular semester, one-unit courses meet for 39 classroom hours and also require up to 117 hours of preparation, processing, assignment, and study time.  All of that time cannot be compressed into even the most extreme intensive term. Still, IL courses are expected to require at least 39 "class/academic" hours plus significant additional time devoted to study, group work, assignment preparation, travel, service, etc. The IL course should be a full-time endeavor for the students. The 39 class/academic hours across 14 class days translates into an average of 2.8 hrs/class day. Most instructors will break that into two daily sessions. For example, a common structure is to spend 1.5 hrs in the morning followed by an afternoon session that might be 2 hrs of film viewing, service, application, group work, or similar. Some days might have no afternoon session. Other days might be 4 hrs in the field, or an 8 hr day trip.  Each instructor must establish hours that make sense. Note that classes do not normally meet on Memorial Day.  If a course must meet on Memorial Day, students should receive a compensating day off.

Attendance Policies:

Most IL courses have very strict attendance policies since participation often figures highly into grades. Very often faculty count morning and afternoon sessions separately for attendance. Very often instructors will allow 0-1 unexcused absences. Very often an unexcused absence from any session will be 5% off the course grade (half of a letter grade). Missing a field trip may have bigger consequences. Instructors are encouraged to develop a policy that fits the course.

Assignments and Support:

Instructors should use assignments that take advantage of the nature of the intensive term. Tests and papers are fine to use, but instructors need to think through the compressed timelines of these. Projects, group work, presentations, videos, webpages, blogs, reflections, interviews, and similar assignments are commonly used. Instructors should consider the time required to provide feedback on assignments. Oral or group feedback may be more reasonably accomplished than written, individual feedback given the press on instructor time. The syllabus accompanying the course proposal must include a detailed class schedule. GEC understands that instructors will make changes between the time of proposal and actually teaching the course. Still, the committee wants to see how time is being used, the types of assignments, the timing of assignments, room for feedback, etc. Please note that neither the Writing Center nor Peer Tutoring is available during the IL Term. Students should receive accommodations as designated by the Accessible Education Services office.

Communicating Expectations to Students

The unique nature of May Term often catches students by surprise.  Extra efforts to communicate with students can improve the experience for all concerned. Inquire sites for IL are available in mid-December. Instructors are encouraged to upload course details and use the email feature to make students aware of course meeting hours, any late or overnight hours, and any fees. Although course fees are posted on the website, students often overlook this information.  The Gen Ed Office will send email notifications of approximate course fees to students registered for IL courses in November and March. 


An electronic copy of the course syllabus is due to your departmental secretary by the first day of class.  Your departmental secretary must upload the syllabus to the S: drive and credential system.


Instructors of field trip courses who will spend nights off campus must provide preliminary information to the General Education Director by the end of Fall Break so that students have this information before registering for a course. Since the instructor may not have all details complete, general information is sufficient. For example, "3-5 nights in the Outer Banks with a cost of $400-$600," or "4 nights off campus with a cost of $700-$1000." By the end of Spring Break, costs and locations must be firm, for example, "4 nights in DC, $750." Instructors must supply a budget justification to the Gen Ed Director by the end of Spring Break. By April 1, full details about dates of departure, locations, and what is included in the fee must be provided. The Gen Ed Director will provide a form. Courses that do not adhere to these deadlines may be canceled. Instructors must collect emergency contact information from students and supply this and an itinerary to the Gen Ed Director.

Instructors of campus courses who need to charge a fee to cover day trips, admissions, supplies, and similar expenses must provide approximate fee information by the end of Fall Break. The exact fee and a budget justification must be provided to the Gen Ed Director by April 1. If any day trips travel more than 50 miles from Salem, instructors will collect emergency contact information from students and supply this and an itinerary to the Gen Ed Director before any travel.

The Gen Ed Director can provide more information on budgets. Note that the use of college vans is encouraged. Courses pay mileage only, making these the least expensive option for travel. If staying overnight off campus, please consider the gender balance in the roster when counting up shared rooms. Since students may drop or add the course through the first day of class, leave room in budgets for one extra room in case the gender balance shifts. If the course will be eating in restaurants, please do NOT include food costs in the course fee. Allow students to make their own choices about food while keeping the course fee lower.

If the course fee is under $50, the department secretary collects the fee and provides students with a receipt. The instructor and secretary must keep records of how the money is expended and deposit funds with the Business Office to cover the expense of college vans, food service, or other similar if being used. If the course fee is $50 or higher, students pay the fee to the Business Office. A line within the IL budget will track course expenses. The Gen Ed Director must sign off on all expenses for these courses. Instructors are encouraged to track expenses carefully. As the term nears its end, any money remaining in the account should be spent on the students. Many instructors will cover one or more meals. We cannot offer refunds to students due to the time and expense of preparing and processing the paperwork so close to the end of the fiscal year.

Liability and Emergency Contact Forms

Every course that takes students outside the Roanoke Valley--whether for a day trip or overnight--must have each student complete an emergency form.  One copy of the form covers the entire term.  Instructors make a copy of the forms (print or scanned).  One set of forms goes on the trip with the instructor.  The other set of forms is left with the IL Director before departure. Here is the Emergency Contact form.

Instructors should also have students complete a Responsibility & Liability form. Instructors should retain these forms for at least six months after the course is complete.

Itinerary Forms

With so many classes traveling near and far during May, it is a challenge for the college to keep track and provide necessary support.  We ask instructors to help us by providing a simple itinerary for every trip outside the Roanoke Valley. Your students also need information to help them plan effectively for trips. Give each student a copy of this form and send a copy to David Taylor. Here is the Field trip information form

We also need information on the vehicles in which you and your students will travel. Here is the Itinerary and Transportation form. Please sort out transportation details far enough ahead so that you can give a copy of this form to David Taylor prior to departure. Instructors should also take a copy of the form with them while traveling in case cars become separated.