Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:


Curriculum Development

Curriculum and course development, changes, and evaluation are the responsibilities of every member of the fulltime teaching faculty. Provosts and academic deans provide leadership to pathway councils, which in turn make proposals to the Curriculum Committee. Once approved, most curriculum proposals must be considered by the Administrative Council and possibly other groups. The Academic Affairs office helps to shepherd and coordinate all curriculum proposals.

Offering Courses Required by Programs Not Housed at the Campus

Many programs are not offered at all NOVA campuses. When a campus wishes to offer a program-specific course for a program not housed at the campus, the campus provost should contact the pathway provost. If approved, the pathway provost will notify the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs so that Academic Affairs staff can make the course available at the other campus.

When the campus requesting the specialized course offering receives a negative response from another campus, the requesting campus may appeal that response to the Chief Academic Officer for resolution.

Intercampus Coordination of Discipline Content through Faculty Discipline Groups
The Discipline Group for each discipline (for example, English, Biology, Hospitality, Automotive Technology, History, Math, Business, etc.) is made up of all full-time faculty members employed by the College for that discipline. With the Dean’s approval, other individuals may be invited to attend the meetings (such as adjunct faculty, lab assistants, etc.)

Pathway Deans provide leadership for a specific set of related discipline groups.

The Discipline Group Chair coordinates activities of the discipline group, working with the Pathway Dean and Provost.

Responsibilities of the Faculty Discipline Group

Each faculty discipline group has the following responsibilities with regard to its discipline

  1. Recommend new curricula and courses, and revisions to existing curricula and courses. Recommend discontinuance of outdated curricula and courses.
  2. Recommend new credit for prior learning opportunities in discipline and review existing ones.
  3. Prepare, review, and update course content summaries.
  4. Review textbook and software usage.
  5. Participate in transfer discussions related to the discipline.
  6. Respond to recommendations, concerns, and ideas of the related program’s Curriculum Advisory Board (career-technical programs). Keep board membership current and faculty representatives meet with the advisory board at least twice per year.
  7. Carefully review course and curriculum layout sections of the Catalog before it goes to press.
  8. Respond to requests for input on Collegewide issues.
  9. Evaluate the discipline.

Responsibilities of the Pathway Dean

The responsibilities of the Pathway Dean are as follows:

  1. Appoint a faculty member in consultation with the group to serve as faculty discipline group chair.
  2. Receive, process, disseminate, and review all information, requests, and recommendations relating to the faculty discipline group to appropriate discipline group chairs.
  3. Coordinate the Pathway Council review of curricular proposals.
  4. Establish the agenda for discipline group meetings.
  5. Appoint a transfer representative (except for ESL).
  6. Tell the AVP for Academic affairs who the Discipline Group Chair is.

Responsibilities of the Faculty Discipline Group Chair

The Faculty Discipline Group Chair has the following responsibilities:

  1. Call and conduct the faculty discipline group meetings.
  2. Take meeting minutes, or appoint someone to do so, and assure that they are distributed to the Pathway Dean and Provost, and to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  3. Act as executive secretary of the Curriculum Advisory Board (for career-technical programs) or designate someone else to do so.
  4. Provide leadership for SLO distribution and data collection.
    Provide leadership for program or discipline review.
Course Content Summaries and Course Syllabi
  1. Course Content Summary: A course content summary is a concise, general purpose document used by all NOVA faculty teaching a given course as a common basis for describing the major elements of the course. The course content summary is designed by the faculty within the discipline. It is used in the preparation of course syllabi and for various administrative purposes, including description of course content to external parties and students who are seeking advanced standing. Course content summaries are maintained in a permanent file by the Associate Vice president for Academic Affairs and are linked in the NOVA Catalog. Most course content summaries are unique to NOVA but a few are uniform across the Virginia Community College System and are located in the VCCS Master Course File (https://courses.vccs.edu/).
  2. Course Syllabus: A course syllabus outlines how one instructor or a group of instructors (like NOL) will teach the material in the course content summary. The course syllabus specifies the objectives to be achieved, the topics that will be covered, how the course is going to be conducted, student responsibilities, attendance, assignments, and other requirements of the course, and how grades will be determined. Each student will receive a syllabus at the beginning of the course, and the syllabus will be reviewed with students.

Course Content Summary: Course content summaries must contain each of the following:

  1. Course Description: Full College Catalog entry including prefix, number, title, credits, description, contact hours, and prerequisites. This MUST be copied from the VCCS master course file, although if the VCCS lists a course as having variable credit values (i.e. 1-2, 3-4, etc.), NOVA will choose a single credit value from the range.  NOVA may add one sentence at the end for clarification. This will appear in both the catalog listing of the course description and in the course content summary.
  2. General Course Purpose: The broad overall goal of a course, including for whom the course is designed and where it fits into a curriculum or course sequence, if appropriate.
  3. Entry Level Competencies: Minimum level of knowledge and/or skill necessary for participation in the course. Skills may include specific reading and writing levels. Include course prerequisites or corequisites. Some curricula may establish expectations of good physical or mental health. NOVA MUST use the prerequisites and corequisites listed in the VCCS master course file. NOVA may also add additional prerequisites and corequisites as it sees fit.  English and math prerequisites for courses in other disciplines must be approved by the Curriculum Committee and Administrative Council.
  4. Course Objectives: Exit level competence, knowledge and/or skill to be achieved by students completing the course. These should be written in a format which completes the sentence: "Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to..." Objectives should be specific and measurable. Course objectives should be written in the same manner and style as one would write Student Learning Outcomes.
  5. Major Topics to be Included: These are the broad content areas required for attainment of the course objectives regardless of the textbook selected. For sequence courses, the delineation of the content of each course in the sequence is essential.
  6. Extra Topics Which May be Included: Additional content areas that may be offered at the faculty member's discretion.
  7. Date: Date created or most recently reviewed by discipline faculty. This goes in the upper right corner

Course Syllabus: The course syllabus must be consistent with the course content summary. Each syllabus must contain the following:

  1. Course number and title.
  2. Instructor's name, College phone number, email address, and office hours.
  3. Objectives that students are expected to achieve upon successful completion of the course. These must be copied from the objectives in the course content summary.
  4. Prerequisites and level of preparation expected to succeed in course.
  5. Description of how the course is going to be conducted (this is typically a proposed schedule of class meetings). Topics must be consistent with those described in the course content summary.
  6. Student responsibilities, including required textbook(s), assignments, and other requirements of the course.
  7. Statement of how grades will be determined. If students are not permitted to audit the course, the syllabus must explain why.
  8. Attendance and withdrawal policies.

Additional information may be included (e.g., last day to drop for a refund, evacuation procedures, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 504 accommodations). The information in the syllabus should be organized in a manner that is most appropriate to the course. Academic deans may specify additional required information to be included and/or formats for course syllabi within their division. Academic deans are responsible for insuring that appropriate course syllabi are developed by each faculty member and current copies are on file in the division. Any policies listed or implied in course syllabi must be consistent with the policies of the College. If there is a conflict between a course syllabus and published College policies, the College policies supersede those listed in the syllabus. Deans work with the Director of Dual Enrollment and the Associate Vice President for e-Learning on syllabus matters pertaining to dual enrollment and NOVA Online.

Procedures for Creating and Revising Course Content Summaries
  1. Course content summaries should be reviewed at least once every five years. In addition, they should be reviewed as part of the program/discipline evaluation process. The review date will be noted even if there are no revisions. Course content summaries must be updated when revisions are made to the College Catalog entries or VCCS course descriptions.
  2. Creation of course content summaries and their revision are accomplished through the appropriate Discipline Groups. All must follow the prescribed format.
  3. The associate vice president for Academic Affairs coordinates the revision of course content summaries and will notify the pathway deans when course content summaries need to be reviewed.
  4. Members of the discipline group, academic deans, and provosts may initiate a request for the review and updating of a course content summary.