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Center for Distance Learning Home > Faculty and Staff > Instructor Guide

Because of Empire State College's unique approach to higher education for adult learners, we have developed some terms that have special meaning for us. And as with any organization, we often use acronyms that can be a puzzle to someone who is new to our academic community. Hence, we offer this brief glossary in an attempt to facilitate your communication with the college and with your students.


Adjunct Faculty: Part-time employees of the college who serve as course instructors, course developers, evaluators of prior learning (see Credit by Evaluation) and mentors.

ANGEL: refers to the ANGEL Learning Management Suite, the software used for online courses as of January 2007.

Area Coordinator (AC): The full-time faculty member at the Center for Distance Learning who oversees an academic area and is responsible for all curriculum development as well as the quality of instruction in that area.

Assessment: The evaluation of academic learning, as well as the process by which a degree program is approved.

Assessment Committee: A designated group of faculty at CDL and each of the other Empire State College centers that reviews each student's proposed degree plan for academic breadth and depth as well as compliance with SUNY general education requirements and Empire State College degree requirements.

Center for Learning and Technology (CLT): The academic computing department that serves all of Empire State College, including the students and faculty of the Center for Distance Learning.

Center Personnel Committee (CPC): A standing committee of the Center for Distance Learning that reviews all adjunct faculty every three years.

Concentration/Area of Concentration: Similar to a "major" at other undergraduate institutions, this is the academic field of study pursued in depth by a student.

Contract Evaluation (CE): The contract evaluation is the center equivalent of a CDL course evaluation.

Course Evaluation (CE): The record of a student's satisfactory completion of all requirements of a CDL course. The CE awards credit for the course and becomes part of the official college transcript. It consists of a "generic" course description that is maintained by the college, and an individualized narrative evaluation that is written and submitted to CDL by the course instructor.

Course Generic: The part of the final CDL course evaluation (CE) that is "generic" or common to everyone taking a particular course, including the purpose of the study and descriptions of the learning activities and the methods and criteria for evaluation. At other Empire State College centers, the "generic" course description is replaced by an individualized "learning contract".

Course Outcome: An indication of a student's status in a particular course that appears in the student's official academic record. A full credit (FC) indicates that a student has successfully completed all course requirements. A no credit (NC) indicates that a student's work in the course did not meet the academic criteria either in terms of quantity or quality. A drop (DR) indicates that the student did not actively engage in the learning activities throughout the term, or did not "show up for class" at all. An incomplete (IN) indicates that the instructor has granted the student an extension of up to 16 weeks. A withdrawal (WD) indicates that the college has honored a written request from the student to be withdrawn from the course.

Credit by Evaluation (CBE): The process whereby college-level learning that does not appear on a transcript is assessed and assigned credit that can be used toward the completion of an undergraduate degree with Empire State College.

Degree Plan (DP): Each Empire State College student works with a mentor to develop an individualized degree plan that meets State University of New York guidelines. This plan includes courses and other studies that will be undertaken by the student at Empire State College, along with evidence of transcript and other prior college-level learning that has been accepted by the college toward the degree.

Drop (DR): A course outcome submitted by a CDL instructor that indicates that a student has not actively engaged in course activities throughout the term or did not "show up for class" at all. A drop outcome is accompanied by the date of "last substantive contact" between instructor and student. Drop outcomes can jeopardize a student's financial aid.

Educational Planning (EP): A structured credit-bearing process that involves reflection on the part of the student about learning style, college-level skills and educational goals, and results in the development of a degree plan to meet those goals.

Extension: Additional time (granted by the course instructor) beyond the end of a CDL term for a student to complete all course requirements. An extension is indicated by an outcome of "incomplete" submitted by the instructor along with a date when all remaining work must be complete.

Full Credit (FC): A course outcome submitted by a CDL instructor that accompanies a narrative evaluation indicating successful completion by the student of all course requirements.

Gen Ed: Short-hand for the "general education" requirements that apply to degrees awarded by all SUNY campuses.

General Education Requirements: State University of New York specification of the required components that need to be included in every degree to ensure academic breadth. These components are grouped into 10 knowledge areas (math, natural sciences, social sciences, American history, Western civilization, other world civilizations, humanities, the arts, foreign language, and basic communication) and two competency areas (critical thinking/reasoning and information management).

Generic: see Course Generic.

Incomplete (IN): A course outcome submitted by a CDL instructor that indicates a student has been granted additional time to complete a course (see Extension).

Instructor: Faculty or adjunct faculty member who guides a student academically through the course offered by the Center for Distance Learning, facilitates online discussion, and evaluates the student's work.

Learning Contract (LC): A plan of study developed by a student and his mentor. The LC is also the document that describes the study (purpose, learning activities, methods and criteria for evaluation).

Mentor, Mentee: Typically called "advisor" and "advisee", these terms refer to faculty members and the matriculated students they advise. In addition to the usual advisor support role, at the Center for Distance Learning, mentors help their students formulate their educational goals, and design and implement individualized degree programs by serving as instructors for educational planning courses.

Narrative Evaluation: The comprehensive summation of an individual student's academic performance in a particular course that is written by the course instructor and submitted to CDL to become part of the final CE, which becomes part of the official transcript. A narrative evaluation is only submitted by an instructor when the student has successfully completed all course requirements and has earned a full credit (FC) outcome.

No Credit (NC): A course outcome submitted by a CDL instructor indicating that the student has not satisfactorily completed all course requirements and has not earned credit for the course. A no credit may be given for lack of quality in the work, or because all course assignments were not completed (i.e., lack of quantity).

Outcome: see course outcome.

Rationale Essay: A document written by a student that accompanies and supports the degree program the student is submitting to the assessment committee for approval.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): refers to a student's academic standing regarding the number of credits earned as measured against the number of enrollment terms at Empire State College. A student who does not maintain SAP receives a warning and may be academically dismissed.

SLN: Refers to the SUNY Learning Network of the State University of New York (SUNY), through which our online courses were delivered until January 2007.

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