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Planning for Classes: Policies and Resources

7.4 Expectations and Suggestions

7.4.1 Grading

Be consistent and fair in grading. This does not mean that everyone must pass, but it does mean that C-level work for one student should measure C-level work for another. If participation or effort is a part of the grade, this fact must be stated clearly in the syllabus. Consistency may be improved by grading one question on all the exams before moving on to the next question and by grading blind (not checking the identity of the student until after the paper is graded).

Standard policies for grading are listed in section 3.2.1. It is the discretion of the instructor to assign a percentage range to a letter grade (e.g., 93 percent to 100 percent for an A). Such assignments should be clearly noted on the syllabus.

7.4.2 Grade Inflation

Please be vigilant about grade inflation. It is the dean’s responsibility to remind faculty, via the department chairperson or associate chair, if and when grades are inflated. Recurrent grade inflation destroys the credibility of the college within the academic community and does a disservice to all concerned. It should be noted that subjecting students to a very harsh academic regimen that falls outside of the norms and practices of the college is also not desirable.

7.4.3 Office Hours

All full-time and part-time faculty must schedule and hold regular office hours during the semester on the campus where they are teaching. These hours should be posted on the instructor’s office door, filed with the chair of the department, and included on each course syllabus. A minimum of four hours per week is expected, at times appropriate to typical student schedules in the college/school in which the course is offered. Adjuncts and part-time instructional staff are expected to be available at least one hour per week for each course they teach.

7.4.4 Classroom Suggestions

Students need metacognitive structures—knowledge about their own knowledge—in order to better grasp, recall, and make use of the knowledge they glean in a course. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hit the ground running on the first day by offering grand overviews of the course.
  • Devote a few minutes of each class to review what covered previously or to focus the direction of the lecture or course. Help students make connections by explaining how the topics of the day fit within the unit being covered and within the larger outlines of the course.
  • Help students make connections by explaining how the topics of the day fit in the wider field and how they connect to other disciplines, and why these topics are important.
  • Spend the last meeting or two of a course wrapping up the various topics and returning to the big picture, as opposed to cramming in the last two chapters of the text.
  • As a matter of professional courtesy, the classroom should be left in its original configuration.
  • Make a point of discussing teaching strategies with other instructors. We can all learn from each other.

7.4.5 Assignments

Assignments are an expected part of every student’s classroom experience. They are an essential measure for the student to gauge their progress in the course. Hence they should be collected regularly, corrected carefully, and returned promptly.

7.4.6 Suggestions from the Students

The following are suggestions that our best students frequently present to us:

  • Challenge them! The best classes are those that are the most demanding.
  • Make the most of classroom and office hours. Be on time.
  • Make a point to monitor student attendance.
  • Teach students the meaning of deadlines. Repeated extensions are more of a disservice than a favor and they discriminate against the punctual student.
  • Do not mistake personality for good teaching technique. While some personality can be used to get over the dry spots, there is nothing like a well-organized lecture/discussion to put life into a classroom.
  • Proctor examinations very carefully.