Teaching FAQs

If you are not finding answers to your questions, jump on this page’s chat or email faculty@montclair.edu.

This web page is under construction for Fall 2022 — your questions are welcome as we build out our FAQs. Send them in.

COVID-related Teaching Questions
  • Where can I find the University’s health and safety protocols and policies?

All information and updates will be found on the COVID-19 Information website. In particular, instructors will find the following sections pertinent: Reporting, Testing, Tracing & Safety FAQs and Faculty & Staff Procedures.

  • How do instructors guide students who test positive for, or believe they may have, COVID-19?

Tell the student to stay home (or remain in their residence hall room) and complete Hawk Check immediately. Hawk Check initiates the process for follow-up by a member of the University Health Center (UHC) team. If you are concerned that a student has not reported their health status, you may contact the University Health Center (UHC) at coronavirus@montclair.edu. For academic or other support, students should be directed to contact their College/School advising center or the Dean of Students Office (DOS). If they need accommodations, students should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC has created a form for students to use to begin the process.

  • Do I have to accommodate students who request to attend via Zoom or request asynchronous options because they don’t feel comfortable in the classroom environment?  


  • If students are unable to come to class due to having COVID-19 or being exposed to COVID-19, how will faculty be notified of students’ legitimate absences?

The Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) will send instructors notification of a verified absence, though this may take several days. Faculty may request that students forward the email they have received from the University requesting self-quarantine. See below for text of that email.

What is the expectation in regards to faculty providing accommodations for students who are out due to COVID-19?

Instructors need to develop their own strategies based on their discipline, course content, and feasibility.  One size does not fit all classes, all instructors, or even all students. Instructors are not alone and can seek support from tutors and academic coaches in CAST.

  • What if I, the instructor, am unable to attend an in-person class per a University Health Center directive?

As was the case pre-COVID, instructors work with their department chairs to make arrangements for covering class if they are unable to attend.  However, an option to consider is to conduct classes online for a short period of time. Whether or not it is the best option is dependent on many individual factors, including course content, which is why department chair consultation is essential.

  • If a student is found to have had COVID-19 when they were in my classroom, should I just assume that we all should quarantine or isolate and that I should cancel in-person classes?

No. The University Health Center (UHC) manages all decisions around quarantine and isolation. It would be rare for class cancellation to be required. When a Hawk Check negative report is received by UHC, the reporting individual is contacted and interviewed (sometimes this requires several calls/emails). The individual is directed to test and asked to self-isolate while awaiting results. This directive is confirmed by an email that students can share with instructors. If test results confirm symptoms, individuals are placed in isolation and UHC notifies DOS, triggering the DOS email to all instructors.

  • What is the email message that students and others receive if they are directed to self-isolate?

This message is to confirm that you have been instructed to isolate until the results of your Covid 19 PCR test have been received and reviewed by the University Health Center. Please provide this email to anyone who needs verification of this self-isolation. Please contact us with questions.

  • Will instructors be notified if an unvaccinated student is in their class? Who is making sure these students are attending their testing schedule?

Student vaccination status is private. Student Development and Campus Life (SDCL) tracks and monitors the status of all campus community members who are not vaccinated and thus are required to test regularly.

  • How do students seek accommodation if they are in a F2F course and believe they can no longer attend F2F?

Students who selected an on-campus class but develop a need for exemption from scheduled on-campus experiences will apply for an accommodation with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC has created a form for students to use to begin the process.

  • If students tell their professor that they cannot come to class because someone they live with is not vaccinated, what is the professor’s obligation and latitude? That is, are faculty required to accommodate students in such a situation?

No. Instructors are not required to accommodate students who choose not to come to class due to their household vaccination status. If faculty are unsure how to respond, they can consult with their department chair or the DOS office.

  • What do I do if a student refuses to follow some aspect of the University’s COVID policy?

Contact the Dean of Students office.

  • Are there recommendations for how to handle office hours?

Colleges and schools may make their own decisions regarding office hours, but in the absence of a policy, we recommend including virtual Zoom office hours as an option. Students and faculty report that they increase office hour usage. 

  • If the modality an instructor begins with is not working for pedagogical reasons, can the instructor change modality?

No. You should not change your course modality.  If you believe you have an exceptional situation, consult your department who will advise you further, and if appropriate, seek an exception from the college or school dean’s office.

  • If a student wishes not to attend what is constructed as a F2F course, must the instructor then have to repeat the same lesson via Panopto or by providing asynchronous materials? 

No.  Faculty are not required to teach in multiple modalities simultaneously.  In fact, unless you are scheduled to teach in a course that is pre-determined to mix modalities (HawkMIX, for example), you are discouraged from attempting to teach in multiple modalities as it will lessen the class experience provided by the original modality.

  • For classes that include synchronous online components and require class participation and engagement, should students be expected to show themselves on video?

Yes. See Zoom Etiquette for more details. Also available as a page for Canvas download in Canvas Commons.

Questions about Academic Engagement
  • What is the Academic Engagement assignment and module I have found in my Canvas course? I didn’t put it there!

As explained by the Provost’s email sent a week before the semester commenced (Re: Academic Engagement), this assignment is the University’s method for ensuring student eligibility for financial aid, identifying students who are not engaged in classes to enable early intervention, gathering statistics for enrollment and student success planning, and for what the directions state: helping students spend a minute thinking about their academic intentions.

Each semester, including summer and winter, Montclair State University disburses millions of dollars of financial aid to students for payment of tuition and other expenses related to their education. The U.S. Department of Education has regulations that govern the eligibility of students to receive aid including the regulation that requires all institutions, including Montclair State University to verify that a student attended at least one session of your class.

After several semesters of experimentation and engaging faculty and student perspectives, this tool launched for full campus use in Fall 2022 and has been slightly improved for Spring 2023. Survey responses from faculty supported this new tool as an improvement over the previous system, and the new tool was more successful than the old one in capturing the required attendance verification needed for students on financial aid. Having a robust method to verify attendance as the Department of Education requires impacts not only our students’ financial aid but our enrollment and retention goals as well.

  • How Does Academic Engagement work?

Students confirm their Academic Engagement through the completion of the “Academic Engagement” assignment that was added to every University scheduled course in Canvas, located in Assignments and Modules. For classes created later in the semester, this assignment will be added automatically.

The assignment is titled “Academic Engagement Verification Activity – SP 2023[or current semester]” and it asks, “What do you hope to learn in this course?”

With this new method, there is no action required of the faculty member.

Students will receive several communications and follow-up throughout the semester to reinforce its importance, and you are encouraged to do so as well.  You may find students’ responses worth reading and you may also respond to them – that’s your choice.

  • Why Is this better than the old system?

With this system students receive their disbursements earlier because of fuller automation and the capacity for IT to sweep Canvas data and provide updates to our student information system and thus the Financial Aid Office several times a day. With the old system, “false positives” were unavoidable, leading to tinkering and readjustments, and unwelcome messages to students to return some of their financial aid.  Since verification reports are coming in more quickly, earlier in the semester, and without error, Financial Aid is disbursed to student charges more quickly. Faculty and student surveys on the pilot and Fall 2022 launch were positive, with 90% of faculty recommending this system over the old one. Improvements have been made based on student and faculty survey responses and we hope for a positive response from faculty and students. Concerns and opinions are welcome at any time.

  • What do faculty have to do?

There is just one requirement for faculty: Do NOT “unpublish” the assignment or the course.

  • What about internships, independent studies, and other courses for which Canvas is not typically used?

Students in these course experiences are also required to complete the Academic Engagement activity in the associated Canvas course, even if Canvas is not used for any other purpose. Please do not unpublish these “little” courses with just one or two students.

  • Can I add points to the assignment? Can I review the responses to the assignment? Can I add a deadline?

Yes. you can do all these things. In fact, we recommend it!  The imported assignment does not have a deadline because the University offers courses that begin at many different times, making a universal deadline of one week after classes begin impossible. The assignment is set at 0 points to ensure that faculty maintain control over assessment, but if you’d like to add points for incentive, you can make that modification.  In addition, once you add points and a due date — not before the first day of your class — the assignment will show up in students’ “To Do” in the right-hand side of the Canvas course. Students’ answers will give you a sense of student motivation which can help you connect and increase engagement.

  • What do I do if a student does not complete the assignment?  Will the student not receive Financial Aid?

It is possible that your students who do not complete the assignment do not receive Financial Aid, or their “engagement” has been otherwise verified — if students engage in Canvas by completing another assignment during the same time, they will be verified. While reminding students to complete an assignment once or twice, adding a due date (so the assignment appears in the “to do” section of their Canvas page, and even adding some points is helpful, beyond these measures, faculty should not be concerned about students who have not completed the assignment.

  • Why do I have multiple versions of this assignment in my Canvas course?

You have multiple versions because your course has been copied over — for help with merging dual sections rather than copying them, please contact ITDS.

Information to help students understand and complete this activity can be found at Red Hawk Central: Academic Engagement.

Practical Questions about Teaching
  • How much out-of-class time work is expected?

The University does not have any formal guidelines for students or faculty regarding “homework,” or out-of-class time. If you are looking for a very broad rule-of-thumb, however, you might try this: 2x class time for out-of-class studying and homework. So for a standard 3-credit course that meets 150 minutes, that would be 5 hours a week of out-of-class time. This 2-to-1 guideline makes full-time study (15 credits) a full-time work week (37.5 hrs/week).  The reality is that courses, professors, and students all vary tremendously.  It is helpful to guide your students, however, on what your expectations are.

  • How do I find out about outdoor spaces?

See Practical Details.

  • Is there an office and printer available for adjunct faculty to use?

The University’s adjunct faculty are provided office space and access to printing and other resources through the College/School or department.  Ask the person who hired you or your department administrator about these resources, or contact the Dean’s Office directly.

Questions about Modalities
  • Are there any differences in retention between online and F2F modalities?

Yes.  Online courses and programs typically struggle with retention more so than is the case with F2F courses and programs.  Instructors teaching fully online should be watching for engagement/activity, and seek to re-engage students who drop off and report problems and concerns in Navigate, requesting tutoring, studying skills, or even help with navigating Canvas, if that’s appropriate, or simply to provide information for advisers.

  • How is Hawk2Hawk different from the traditional F2F classroom setting? 

It isn’t.

  • What is HawkLIVE? 

HawkLIVE, which uses one of our tech-enhanced mediated classrooms, is the most similar to traditional F2F teaching in that the expectation is for all students to attend “LIVE,” either in the classroom, F2F, or remotely through video-conference software.  Instructors attend every session F2F and students attend either in-person or via Zoom as determined by instructors.

  • What is the technical set-up of a HawkLIVE class?

A HawkLIVE tech-enhanced mediated classroom is equipped with mics to pick up faculty and student voices; at the lectern, the familiar console includes controls for a Pan-Tilt-Camera [PTC] (positioned at the back of the room) as well as the usual capacity to hook up a laptop and project. The PTC camera will be pre-set to 6 views, each enabled by pressing a button: one preset on the podium, three positioned at different whiteboards around the rooms, and two positioned to capture the in-person student population (some variation related to room is likely).  In addition, there are controls to move the camera manually.  Remote students should be able to hear instructor and student voices through the mics, and in-class participants should be able to hear remote students via the speaker system.

  • What are the benefits of HawkLIVE?

Of the modalities with online components, HawkLIVE is most like traditional F2F so it is a good choice for instructors who believe the traditional F2F experience is most conducive to effective teaching and learning of their courses.  For an individual instructor teaching multiple courses, some courses may seem more in need of a simulated F2F experience than others.  HawkLIVE is also a good choice for students who have found they learn more effectively in F2F modalities, or who simply wish to have that classroom experience.   

  • What are the disadvantages of HawkLIVE?

HawkLIVE requires a lot of multi-tasking for instructors. It can be difficult to attend to both online and in-person students, while also doing everything else you want to do as an instructor.  Further, many HawkLIVE instructors find that most students end up wanting to be remote, and so you may end up with few students in attendance. Or, if you require in-person, students may be unhappy that they have to come.


  • In HawkLIVE, will students be able to see the instructor, the board, and the instructor’s projected screen all at once?

Not all at once — students can have one main screen view, and one smaller inset view. There are six preset positions on the room camera, and the camera can also be moved manually.  When instructors project to remote students, they have a choice as to whether to foreground one of the camera views, a screen share (the instructor’s screen), and they can toggle among these options.  In addition, when in Zoom, the backgrounded screen is typically shown in smaller squares, allowing, for example, a view of the instructor lecturing to be shown as a slide deck is being worked through. Alternatively, instructors can highlight a shot of an actual whiteboard or one of the students sitting in class, among other options.

  • If students receive 3 hours of instructional time per week live, how is instructional time calculated for modalities that meet for less than 3 hours? 

Instructors in this situation need to be sure to provide at least 3 hours per week of instruction, and asynchronous work — reviewing lectures, reading, answering questions, etc. — “count” in this total.  So it’s not difficult to achieve.

  • Do instructors teaching HYBRID modalities need to schedule specific sessions ahead of time with the Registrar?

Room scheduling is handled by the Registrar’s office through communication from the Colleges/Schools and departments.  To the extent possible, being very specific about room usage enables the optimal use of our best instructional spaces.

Practical Questions about the University

11.7.22 EJI