9.1 Syllabus Policy
Syllabi are valuable tools to help students understand what is expected of them and manage their coursework. In addition, recent changes in accreditation standards, the College’s related assessment needs, increased oversight by the Department of Education, and other government mandates have established syllabi as essential institutional documents that are critically important in representing the work of faculty in the classroom. The information below provides a structure for managing syllabi, and explicitly describes the information all syllabi are expected to contain to support the work of students and the College. The first two sections of this policy describe management practices designed to help the College meet Middle States, assessment, and advising needs. The final section recommends good practice for syllabus content that is recommended but not required.
These guidelines apply to all credit-bearing courses. In those cases where a full, formal syllabus might not be appropriate, these guidelines suggest the types of information that should be conveyed to students and documented in print. This exception may apply to internships, independent studies, group studies, peer mentoring, student teaching, senior projects, and other credit-bearing independent experiences.
1. Syllabi Management Practices required to support Accreditation, Assessment, and Good Advising
- Faculty are expected to provide students a syllabus, either as hard copy or in digital form, for all regularly scheduled courses by the end of the first week of class.
- Faculty are expected to provide a copy of their syllabi to the College Archives in Word or PDF format. The Archivist will contact faculty to request syllabi early each semester.
- Syllabi will be stored in the College’s institutional repository (currently hosted on Dspace). The College Archivist is responsible for maintaining the integrity and security of the collection, as well as ensuring that access to syllabi is provided to community members as directed by this policy.
- Instructors have the right to share or otherwise use syllabi they have created in any way they choose.
- The College has the right to share syllabi with
- current students and employees of Allegheny College to support the operations of the College and for course planning,
- former students who are requesting syllabi for courses in which they were officially enrolled,
- accrediting agencies as needed to support the College’s accreditation
- other higher education institutions and external agencies with legitimate need to know
- other entities as required by law or government regulation.
2. Syllabus Content required to meet Middle States and Assessment Needs
All syllabi are expected to contain the following information. Faculty may elect to organize these elements as makes sense for their own courses:
- The course name, course number, section number (if relevant), academic program, official course description.
- The semester (e.g. Fall 2016).
- Instructor information including the instructor’s name, office hours, office location, and preferred means of contact.
- A list of any Distribution Requirements (DR) the course fulfills.
- Course learning outcomes, that is a statement of the skills and knowledge students are expected to demonstrate (e.g., critical thinking, analytical ability, mathematical or computational skills, forming and testing hypotheses).
- Courses that satisfy a Distribution Requirement (DR) should include a learning outcome aligned with the DR learning outcome as articulated by the Curriculum Committee along with relevant requirements.
- FS courses should include learning outcomes that are aligned with the FS global expectations and course-specific learning outcomes.
3. Recommended Syllabus Content
The following syllabus components represent good practice for most types of courses. Including these elements can eliminate or reduce time-consuming misunderstandings and the problems that can arise from them.
- Policies related to the conduct of the course. Instructors with questions about College policies related to instruction may wish to consult the academic policies page on the Registrar’s web site: http://sites.allegheny.edu/registrar/academic-policies/
- Attendance. Indicate whether it is required, counts toward the grade, how it is monitored (if at all), etc. Policies should be aligned with attendance policies in the Faculty Handbook (Section 9.9).
- Class participation. Describe expectations around class participation including whether it is graded, and if so, how.
- Required materials (textbooks, software, hardware, etc.). Clearly describe what materials students must have to be successful in the course and what optional materials are recommended.
- Expectations with respect to student conduct and alignment with the College’s Statement of Community.
- Academic integrity and the Honor Code. In particular, if students will be doing group or collaborative work, describe specifically what is considered to be fair and effective collaboration, as well as any behaviors that are not acceptable. In those cases where expectations for collaboration or compliance with the Honor Code may vary by assignment, it is sufficient for the syllabus to indicate that expectations will be provided with each assignment. In any case, students should be encouraged to ask questions if they are unsure about what is expected and allowed.
- Grading Criteria. Provide a clear description of how student work will be assessed and grades will be assigned. For example, let students know how much each component of their work will count in the final grade and whether revisions or extra credit are accepted or available.
- Late or missing assignments and exams. Describe under which conditions, if any, late or missing work will be accepted.
- Accommodations. Describe how students needing accommodations due to learning disabilities, religious practices, physical requirements, medical needs, or any other reason should proceed. The Director of Disability Services will provide recommended syllabus language upon request.
- Course Schedule. A description of what students can expect to be asked to do over the course of the semester noting, at least approximately, when major assignments or exams will be due, which will assist students with budgeting their time. Some instructors prefer to include a course calendar describing what is expected when, including in some cases a detailed day-by-day account of course requirements, but such details are not required.
4. Senior Project Syllabus
All departments and programs that offer a major must include on their website (or otherwise make broadly visible and distribute to students enrolled in that program’s senior project) the following:
- Senior Project Syllabus (Note: a syllabus can, in many cases, cover all the information below)
- Shared syllabus used by all program faculty OR
- A template on which all program faculty base their senior project syllabi, providing clear guidelines within which faculty have some freedom to tailor a syllabus to a specific student project but still ensuring consistency of the senior project experience
- Senior Project Learning Outcomes
- These should be identifiable as separate statements, perhaps listed as “Students who successfully complete XXXX 610/620 will be able to…” or something similar.
- Learning Outcomes should be measurable and at least some should align with the outcomes identified on the Senior Project Assessment. Alignment can be addressed in disciplinary language, but project readers should be able to identify the connection.
- Senior Project Expectations, which can take any/all of the forms below:
- Information about Comp proposals
- Style guides & required table of contents items (sections)
- Registrations & timelines (i.e. take 600 in fall; take 600 concurrently with 580, etc.)
- Identifying faculty reader responsibilities
- Other department/discipline specific information that is not a learning outcome or evaluation criterion
- Evaluation Criteria
- This can be in the form of percentages/total points or a general rubric (grid) that has language identifying what meets expectations, exceeds expectations, etc.
- Specific wording can vary by department/program.
- Language for evaluation criteria can often be directly related to the program’s stated learning outcomes.
- Evaluation criteria should identify the program’s expected balance between oral and written components of the senior project.
- Faculty within a program may vary in how they address grading and can do so on individual syllabi; however, there should be evidence that all program faculty agree what constitutes a great paper, a good paper, etc. (or an A paper, a B paper, etc.). This is akin to the expectation that all program faculty have a shared understanding of how they assess learning outcomes on the Senior Project Assessment.
(Approved 7 September 2017, Revised 20 May 2022)
9.2 Tests, Papers, and Examinations Policy
The Tests, Papers, and Examinations Policy is housed in the Academic Bulletin.
9.3 Exam Grades
It is an established tradition of the faculty that results of an examination will normally be available to individual students a week after the examination is given and shall be kept available until at least the second week of the next regular semester. Public posting of examination grades for individual students and public dissemination of other evaluations (e.g., leaving a stack of graded papers outside the office door) is not permitted due to Federal privacy law (FERPA).
9.4 Grade Reports
- Letter grades are reported on the following scale:
A Excellent 4.00 quality points/semester hour credit
A- 3.70 quality points/semester hour credit
B+ 3.30 quality points/semester hour credit
B Good 3.00 quality points/semester hour credit
B- 2.70 quality points/semester hour credit
C+ 2.30 quality points/semester hour credit
C Fair 2.00 quality points/semester hour credit
C- 1.70 quality points/semester hour credit
D+ 1.30 quality points/semester hour credit
D Passing 1.00 quality points/semester hour credit
F Failing 0.00 quality points/semester hour credit
- According to the College Attendance Policy, “Unauthorized absences may result in grade penalty or other consequences at the discretion of the instructor.”
- Credit/No Credit grades are reported as CR/NC. Credit, “CR,” will be awarded for course performance equivalent to, or higher than, a passing letter grade, D. No credit, “NC,” will be awarded for course performance equivalent to a failing letter grade, F.
- Faculty considering granting a grade of Incomplete (IN) or withdrawal (W) to a student should consult the Academic Bulletin and Section 8.10 (above) in the Faculty Handbook for rules and procedures related to such a grade assignment.
- Grades are entered by faculty via Self-Service. By Faculty vote, final course grades are to be reported to students by the Registrar’s Office, not by individual faculty.
- By Faculty vote, grade changes are allowed only: (a) in the case of a demonstrable mathematical error in the compilation or recording of a grade; or (b) in the case where documented, extraordinary, extenuating circumstances are brought to the instructor after the deadline for grade submission. Such circumstances brought to the instructor prior to the deadline for grade submission should be evaluated according to the policies for “Grades of Incomplete” or Withdrawal for Extenuating Circumstances.” All such grade changes must be made by the Provost.
A student with questions about their evaluation in a course is expected to consult with the faculty member instructing the course. If further consultation is necessary, the student may address the matter with the chair of the academic department or program in which the course is offered. If the faculty member instructing the course is also the chair of the academic department or program, then the student should contact the Provost and Dean of the College.
Grade changes must be requested within sixty days of the date that the final grade was posted to Self-Service. However, grades cannot be changed after a student’s degree has been posted and they have graduated.
- At the conclusion of the fall and spring semesters, course grades become available to students via Self-Service after all grades have been received and processed by the Registrar’s Office
- The cumulative quality point average (GPA) is calculated using all courses completed at Allegheny with the following exceptions: a) courses that do not carry academic credit (e.g., some labs) are not included, b) courses taken on a Credit/No Credit basis are not included, and c) when a course has been repeated, only the most recent attempt is included (exception: for courses such as Independent Studies for which credit may be earned more than once, all attempts are included in the GPA calculation). Calculation of the cumulative quality point average is done as follows: a) for each course to be included, multiply the number of semester credit hours of the course times the quality points for the grade shown in Paragraph 1 above; b) add the products in a to get the total quality points; c) divide the total in b by the total number of graded credits attempted.
The quality point average calculation is illustrated below:
Grade Credits Grade Value Qual. Points
A 4 x 4.00 = 16.00
B+ 2 x 3.30 = 6.60
C+ 3 x 1.70 = 5.10
Total 9 27.70
QPA = 27.70/9 = 3.08
- A cumulative quality point average of at least 2.00 in the major, the minor, and overall is required for graduation from the College.
- Students in their first semester at Allegheny College who receive a G.P.A. of 1.0 or below are dismissed from the College. Continuing students with two or more consecutive semesters with a cumulative grade point average below 2.0 are also dismissed unless they meet all of the following criteria for the current semester: 1) semester GPA of 2.0 or better; 2) course load of at least 12 credits; and 3) passing grades in all classes.
- Academic dismissals are initially determined automatically on the basis of academic performance as described in Paragraph 10 above. Students are encouraged to appeal dismissal if they can demonstrate the potential for success at Allegheny. To appeal, students must send statements specifically discussing recent academic performance, trends in grades, and any relevant personal circumstances to the Registrar’s Office. All materials related to an appeal of academic dismissal must be received by the date specified in the letter informing the student of the initial dismissal. Late appeals will not be considered. Appeals are reviewed by the Academic Awards and Standards Committee (see Section 3.1 above). Only the four faculty members of the Academic Awards and Standards Committee vote on whether to grant an appeal of academic dismissal. If one of the four faculty members is unable to be present for a vote, a vote by the Provost or Associate Dean of the College may be substituted.
- Dismissal is for a minimum of six months for first-year students dismissed at the conclusion of their first semester and is for one calendar year for all other students. Students who are dismissed are prohibited from taking Allegheny courses until they are readmitted to the College.
This policy is under the purview of the Academic Standards and Awards Committee. Changes are subject to a vote of the Faculty.
(11 April 2019)
9.5 Faculty Office Hours
Faculty are expected to post and keep regularly scheduled office hours so as to be available to students, advisees, and colleagues. These hours—at least six per week—must not all fall in the same class-hour sequence. Individuals not holding a full-time position will hold office hours proportional to their appointments.
(Revised 9 May 2014)
9.6 Copyright Policy
Note: Allegheny’s Instructional Technology staff maintain additional Guidelines for Classroom Copying online.
Policy on Fair Use of Copyrighted Works for Research and Education
It is Allegheny College’s intention to educate and inform its employees about their fair use rights within copyright regulations—all fair use of copyrighted materials will be in compliance with the federal copyright regulations in Section 107 of Chapter 17 of the United States Code.
Allegheny College will avoid forming or supporting policies that restrict fair use rights—As an educational institution Allegheny College is both a user and producer of intellectual property and is committed to complying with the laws that govern intellectual property. Inherent in that commitment is the full exercise of the rights accorded in the “Fair Use” provision of the law.
Allegheny College will develop tools and procedures to help employees comply with copyright policy—This document addresses the use of copyrighted materials in education and research, with coursepacks as its primary focus. The contents of this packet include tools and information to assist employees in their good faith efforts to exercise fair use rights in the scope of their teaching and research activities. (See Appendix II for resources on determining “fair use.”)
It is the responsibility of Allegheny College employees to comply with the College’s policies in regard to intellectual property—It is expected that all employees who use copyrighted materials will make every good faith effort to use those materials in compliance with federal regulations.
Additional information is available from:
Fair Use and Higher Education
The terms of the “Fair Use” provisions in the current copyright law have been debated, questioned, and occasionally challenged. The only thing that is certain in the determination of fair use is that reasonable people will differ in their interpretations of what’s fair use. The statutory language is vague and there have been no court decisions that have absolutely ruled on the fair use of copyrighted materials in higher education.
Until the matter has been decided through the courts or new legislation, educational institutions must maintain a balance between complying with regulations and making full use of the fair use provisions in the law. To do so calls for responsible decision making and an understanding of copyright law.
The issue of copyright is addressed in Chapter 17 of the United States Code. The two relevant sections that apply to the determination of fair use are in the first chapter in Section 106 (defines the rights of copyright holders) and Section 107 (provides for the fair use of copyright materials).
Fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis and balances the four factors set forth in the statute enacted by Congress. The four factors are:
- The purpose or character of the use;
- The nature of the copyrighted work being used;
- The amount and substantiality of the work being used; and
- The effect of the use on the market for or value of the original.
In the case of coursepacks, each item in the coursepack needs to be evaluated individually in light of these factors. It is likely that some items in a course pack will be fair use and others will need permission from the copyright holder. A more complete explanation of these factors is available in Appendix II.
In general, the courts have favored non-profit educational uses in the application of the four factors. Legal scholars, many colleges and universities, library associations, and other higher education interest groups believe that a robust interpretation and application of the fair use provisions is vital to the educational mission. On the other hand, the American Association of Publishers and other major distributors of copyrighted material have argued for a very restrictive interpretation of the statute.
As the law now stands, it is almost impossible to write a definitive policy for the fair use of copyrighted material. The only attempt to arrive at such a policy was the creation of the Agreement On Guidelines For Classroom Copying In Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions With Respect To Books And Periodicals.
The guidelines were read into the Congressional Record, but they are not the law. In a recent case (Princeton Univ. Press v. Michigan Document Services, 1996), the court opinion stated, “The publishers reliance on the Classroom Guidelines is misplaced.” The court refused to use the guidelines in place of the statutory language in Section 107.
Until the courts or Congress present a clear directive about fair use to the higher educational community, policies need to remain flexible and avoid unnecessary restrictions. The way most colleges and universities do this is to educate their employees about the nature of fair use and to allow them to make their own good faith judgments in their application of fair use.
Individual responsibility and decision making is highly compatible with the nature of the fair use language, which leaves room for interpretation on a case-by-case basis. This policy makes no specific recommendations about individual interpretations. It does require that each employee acts in good faith and with knowledge of the issues surrounding fair use.
To help assist with these decisions, the College will indemnify and hold harmless all faculty in the event of an infringement violation, provided that a “good faith effort” to comply with the conditions controlling a fair use analysis was made. In plain English, if you comply with the Allegheny policy, and someone alleges that you violated their copyright, the College will pay for your defense. The College or its insurers will provide the counsel of their own choosing.
9.7 Classroom Technology Use
Faculty are responsible for establishing a learning environment appropriate for the content and pedagogical design of the courses for which they are the instructor of record. This responsibility includes the structuring of classroom activities (lectures, discussion, collaborative work, etc.) and in-class assessments (examinations, projects, oral reports, etc.) and extends to the classroom use of technology (computers, hand-held devices, etc.). In particular, faculty have the right to set policies with respect to whether or how mobile computing and communication devices may be used in the classroom.
9.8 Recording Policy
Allegheny College values freedom of expression and respects individuals’ rights to privacy, the integrity of the classroom experience, faculty and College rights in instructional materials and applicable copyright law.
Both faculty and students have the reasonable expectation that class content is shared only with those who are members of the Allegheny College community; therefore, audio, video, or cell phone recording of any class at Allegheny is prohibited unless prior written permission of the instructor has been obtained and all students in the class as well as guest speakers have been informed that audio/video recording may occur. Recording of lectures or class presentations is generally authorized for the purposes of individual or group study, and whether recordings are retained after the conclusion of the course should be decided in consultation with the faculty member. The recording may not be reproduced or uploaded to publicly accessible web environments, nor may it be exchanged or distributed for commercial purposes, for compensation, or for any purpose other than individual or group study, except with the express written permission of the involved parties. Permission to allow the recording is not a transfer of any copyrights in the recording, and public distribution of such materials may constitute copyright infringement in violation of federal or state law, or College policy.
Classes may be recorded, however, if approved as an educational accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In such instances, the student would request the accommodation through the College’s Office of Student Disability Services. The faculty member(s) whose classes are sought to be recorded would be notified of/consulted in connection with the request to record the faculty member’s class. Conditions in connection with the recording of the class(es) will be established in writing on a case-by-case basis through an interactive dialogue among the student, the faculty member, and the Office of Student Disability Services. For further context, the Office of Student Disability Services has guidelines for students to record lectures as part of the accommodation for qualifying reasons. It is recommended that the policy be placed in course syllabi to provide clarity of expectations around recordings.
Audio, video, or cell phone recording of private non-class meetings pertaining to College business (including, but not limited to, one-on-one advising sessions or other private meetings between faculty members and students, faculty members and administrators/staff, or faculty members and their faculty colleagues) is prohibited without express consent of all of the participants in the meeting.
(4 October 2018)
9.9 Class Attendance Policy
The Class Attendance Policy is housed in the Academic Bulletin.
9.10 Students in Classes Taught by a Parent, Spouse/Partner, or Other Relative
A situation may arise in which a student wants to enroll in a class taught by a relative. “Relatives” are defined in the College Nepotism Policy (see Section 11.1 below) as spouses/partners, parents, siblings and their spouses, children, stepparents, stepchildren, domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, first cousins, nephews, nieces and their spouses, and in-laws, plus roommates and other persons with whom the employee may have economic and emotional ties. The policy states: “For safety, security, supervision and ethical reasons, except in extreme cases, these individuals will not normally be hired, transferred or otherwise placed into positions where they directly or indirectly supervise or are supervised by another family member.”
In keeping with this policy, faculty are strongly encouraged to dissuade family members from enrolling in their courses when other options – for example, a different section of the same course taught by a colleague – are available. However, when specialized courses are taught by a relative and the relative is the sole specialist in that area at Allegheny, taking a course with a relative may be the only reasonable option for a student to pursue his/her academic interests. In this case, it is incumbent upon the faculty member to avoid not only favoritism but also the appearance of favoritism. These circumstances are rare but can be problematic; therefore, faculty members should inform their department chairs when a relative enrolls in one of their courses. In turn, department chairs should alert the Provost. If the instructor is a department chair, s/he should inform the Provost.
(Created 6 December 2011)