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New Faculty Frequently Asked Questions

Design Undergraduate Courses

If you are assigned to develop and teach a brand-new course, your syllabus with the DKU Syllabus Template applied should get approved by the Course Approval Committee. Syllabi of Fall courses need to be submitted for approval in early June, while those of Spring courses need to be submitted in late September.

In general, you have considerable leeway to use the course description in the UG bulletin as a starting point but the descriptions are not meant to constrain DKU instructors to every specific in them. You can also look at approved syllabi in related areas at our Approved Syllabus Index.

If you want to have a better understanding of the content that should be included in your course, contact your divisional chair(s) and refer to the document Positioning Your Course in the DKU Curriculum. The Center for Teaching and Learning is happy to consult you on course design and provide feedback on your syllabus.

Normally, the email from your divisional chair about your teaching assignment should tell you whether your course is a brand new course or an existing one. If you don’t know, please check with your divisional chair.

If you are assigned to teach an existing course being offered previously, you should consult the instructor who has taught this course and take a look at the most recent version of the syllabus in the Approved Syllabus Index. If you don’t know the instructor who taught the course before and/or can’t find the approved syllabus in the Index, please contact your divisional chair(s) and major coordinator.

Referring to the existing syllabus, you are encouraged to make reasonable adjustments and revise the syllabus with the DKU Syllabus Template applied. Please note that any course with over 30% change to the pre-approved syllabi will go through the Course Approval Committee. The 30% policy is primarily for the course content and grading/assignments. For the change of the prerequisites, you should contact your divisional chair first. 

If you are assigned to teach a 2-credit writing-focused course (2CWC), start by reviewing the common criteria (NetID login required). To find more detailed guidelines, suggested materials, and ideas to get you started, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning directly at

DKU defines a credit hour according to the United States federal definition of a credit hour:

A credit hour is “An amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

  1. One 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

  2. At least an equivalent amount of work for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practicum, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.”

For DKU’s calendar, this means that for the typical student, each 4-credit course corresponds to approximately 24 hours of total in- and out-of-class time per week in a 7-week session, plus the examination week, and each 2-credit course corresponds to approximately 12 hours of total in- and out-of-class time per week in a 7-week session, plus the final examination week.

  • For 4 credit courses: ~24 hours in-and out-of-class

  • For 2 credit course: ~12 hours in-and out-of-class

The academic integrity policy in the undergraduate program

The University’s disciplinary process is independent of, and in addition to, an instructor’s decision on how to grade academically dishonest work. Instructors are expected to communicate with students their policy regarding grading of an academically dishonest assignment (e.g., zero on the assignment, reduced/failing grade for the course, or other approach). An instructor may only implement this penalty if the student has accepted responsibility for academic dishonesty (by accepting the penalty) or has been found responsible for such through the proceedings of the Undergraduate Academic Review Board (UARB). All suspected cases of academic integrity violations must be reported to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, even if they are resolved directly between the instructor and student.

Violations of academic integrity that occur while the student is residing at Duke University or other institution (for example, during a study-abroad program) will be handled by the host institution according to the host institution’s policies, although DKU reserves the option to investigate the case and impose additional penalties if such action is deemed warranted.

Procedures if suspect academic integrity violation

Members of the faculty teaching undergraduates are expected to consult with the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies ( regarding cases of possible academic misconduct. Minor and first-time infractions (those that would not be grounds for suspension or more severe censure if proven true) may be resolved between the faculty member and the student. The faculty member should submit a written record of the violation and how it was resolved to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies who maintains a record and determines if there have been previous violations. If the student is dissatisfied with the resolution, he or she may appeal to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Cases that are more serious, second-time offenses or student appeals must be handled more formally through the UARB.

Generative AI exhibits capacity and sophistication that is likely to increase dramatically with each academic term. ChatGPT is but one instantiation of a technology that is advancing in diverse and surprising ways. This DKU Guide for Teaching and Generative AI connects DKU faculty to resources that support their efforts to adapt their pedagogical and assessment strategies to the rapid proliferation of this new technology. Duke Learning Innovation & Lifetime Education has provided many helpful brief guides that we encourage you to consult. Your role is critical in providing explicit guidance to your students about your expectations regarding the use of AI.

DKU Center for Teaching and Learning can provide you with advice and support as you begin to design courses and teach in this dynamic environment. Here you will find a repository of resources curated specifically for DKU faculty, featuring concrete assessment strategies, sample policies, and ideas for pedagogical innovation. We are also ready and willing to provide individual consultations, and you should reach out by sending a request to

Prepare for Teaching

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) helps instructors explore and evaluate innovative ways to use learning technologies for teaching at Duke Kunshan. Learning technologies connect faculty to software and web tools to promote collaboration, enhance communication, share multimedia, teach online, and more. In addition to supporting established learning technologies like Canvas, CTL, along with IT and Duke Learning Innovation & Lifetime Education, also works with faculty and administrators to pilot new tools.

This website lists the technologies available at DKU.

DKU is an e-preferred campus. The majority of textbooks will be purchased in eBook format according to price and availability from the publishers. eBooks can be read on a variety of devices and operating systems, and support is available for students to ensure they have access to their textbooks each session. Please read the textbook policy closely and contact Xue Qiu from DKU Library at if any further inquiries.

Faculty members (including part-time faculty) teaching in the undergraduate program will be available in their offices at least four hours per week for each four-credit 7-week course and two hours per week for a two-credit 7-week course, and by appointment at mutually convenient times. If unable to keep the posted times, a faculty member will post a note to that effect.

Within-class tests (except for the final) are to be given during the regular class meeting times.

The times and places of final examinations for each session (Week 8 of each session is the final exam week) are officially scheduled by the Registrar Office, generally according to the day and hour of the regular course meeting; changes may not be made to the schedule without the approval of the registrar. You can find your final exam schedule and location in DKU Hub.


Q: Can we do away with tests altogether if that makes the most sense for our class design?

A:  Absolutely. Tests are never required and are a poor substitute for writing assignments in many fields.

Q: I was wondering about using Fridays for a 3-hour exam. I understand that this day is open to field trips and other activities, but is this a reasonable use of Fridays?

A: No, Fridays cannot be used for exams.

In general, you can request TA support for courses that have more than 20 students enrolled. For co-taught classes seeking TA support, the expected student-to-faculty ratio ought to be greater than 25:1. As DKU is a residential liberal arts university, TAs are not a customary or expected feature of our students’ educational experience. DKU faculty are expected to grade students’ work. Only graduate TAs are allowed to grade, and they may grade only low-stakes assignments that require the exercise of little or no discretion.

Nonetheless, because TAs can in narrow circumstances improve your ability to teach effectively, we invite you to submit an application for TA support if you think this support is necessary.

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides a Peer Tutor Program to support students in learning a specific course. Peer Tutors are undergraduate students who have excelled in the course(s) they tutor and have a solid understanding of course materials, excellent study skills and habits, and the ability to facilitate discussions about course content. Peer Tutors provide quality course-specific academic support and student-centered resources to answer undergraduate students’ individual questions and satisfy their learning needs.

If you want to know whether your course is assigned a peer tutor or you want to make a request, please contact the ARC at

Community-based Learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience that allows students to (a) participate in an organized activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Community-based Learning provides a way for DKU to give back to the local community.  

While not revenue generating, Community-based Learning forges connections to the local community and results in long-term research collaborations, student internship opportunities and Signature Work projects.

Community-based Learning is also encouraged as an addition to courses to increase students’ civic engagement and problem solving skills in a way that benefits the local community. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of community-based learning.

The Office of Undergraduate Studies provides funding opportunities for faculty to support Community-based Learning (CBL) initiatives for courses taught at DKU. Faculty who may be interested in adding a Community-based Learning component to an existing or new UG course should contact Jiawen Cai at for more information.

More Information

With the written consent of the instructor and permission of the academic advisor, a full-time degree student is allowed to audit one or more courses in addition to the normal program. An audited course counts as part of the course load (see section on Undergraduate Course Load). Students who audit a course submit no daily work and take no examinations, but are expected to attend class sessions. They do not receive credit for the course, but the audited course will appear on the transcript. Students must register for audited courses by submitting a signed course audit form to the Office of the University Registrar. The prohibition against registering for two courses meeting at the same time applies. After the Drop/Add period in any term, no student classified as an auditor in a particular course may take the course for credit, and no student taking a course for credit may be reclassified as an auditor. Physical education activity, studio art, applied music, and dance technique/performance courses may not be audited. A student may not repeat for credit any course previously audited. Undergraduates who have been dismissed, suspended, or placed on leave of absence may not audit or enroll in a course for credit at Duke Kunshan University.

As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, course evaluation surveys will be administered by the Office of Assessment during the final teaching week. Typically, this process begins on the Friday of the 6th week, allowing students extra time over the weekend to complete the survey. The survey close date will be been chosen before the final exam week to ensure that feedback isn’t influenced by exam results.

Survey results will be made available to you after all course grades have been submitted to DKU Hub. This timing helps prevent grading from being influenced by evaluation results. However, in the event of significant delays in grade submissions by a large group of courses, the Office of Assessment may need to manually hold evaluations for those courses, resulting in a delay for all course evaluation results.

The Watermark platform is used as the course evaluation system, which facilitates the launch and management of evaluations. As a new faculty member, you will gain access to Watermark in the last teaching week as your first course evaluation begins. Detailed instructions regarding the evaluation process will be provided to you at that time. 

Signature Work (SW) refers to the entire SW experience including the SW Project, SW Product, and all elements required for successful completion. SW encourages students to seek creative alignments between curricular pathways and to engage in experiential learning that leads to the creation of knowledge and products for the scholarly, private sector, and public audiences. SW calls for each student to identify one or more questions, problems, or issues that are of particular importance to him or herself and to society, and to investigate these through a combination of curricular and related co-curricular experiences. A more comprehensive introduction about SW is available on the DKU website and contact the Office of Signature Work ( for more detailed information.

Each March, in a break between sessions 3 and 4, DKU offers a number of intensive and fun one-week Mini-Term courses. These popular courses are required elements of the DKU curriculum. There are two types of Mini-Terms: 1) Exploratory Courses provide a focused exposure to a single topic while enabling students to move outside of their comfort zones OR 2) Signature Work Courses provide structured time for sophomores or juniors to focus on planning or research for their Signature Work project.

There are no pre-requisites or grades for Exploratory Mini-Terms; some pre-requisites are possible for Signature Work Mini-Terms. There are no grades and the only expectation is that students attend and engage with the group. All students must complete one Mini-Term course as a requirement for graduation. Students may be able to enroll in additional mini-courses as space permits in subsequent years.  

You will be reached via email when request proposals for Mini-Term courses.

You will have an opportunity to propose new electives during the regular solicitation period, which occurs in November. Please note that our ability to offer electives is constrained.

Look up the DKU Useful Contacts if you have a specific question.