The teacher clearly defines grading and attendance policies.

Research shows that clearly defining expectations play an important role in student motivation for learning (Ambrose et al., 2010). That is why explaining to students what is expected of them is of such critical importance, particularly with how they will be evaluated. Explaining to students what and how they will be evaluated provides guidance to students on how to be successful.

Do you clearly outline what is due and when?

Do you explain your grading criteria for assignments, activities, and/or class participation?

It can also be helpful to provide students with examples of good (and even less good) assignments. Be sure to instruct students on where and how you would like them to submit assignments—if you use Blackboard, it can be helpful to include a short tutorial on how to submit. 

  • Late Work (and Make-up Policies)

    Let students know if, and under what circumstances, you will accept late work. Will you allow a late submission for fewer points? Just as it does for us, sometimes other responsibilities compete with school responsibilities, consider allowing students to turn in an assignment late once. This is sometimes called an “oops token.” Rather than completely missing out on an assignment, this allows students the chance to demonstrate their learning and recognizes their lives outside of the classroom. An alternate that is commonly used is to allow a student to drop the lowest of a group of assignments (e.g., drop the lowest of ten problem sets). 

    Do you allow makeup work? If so, be sure to let the students know what steps they need to follow, like advance notice, or an alternate assignment to replace the grade. While many faculty request evidence of an excused absence for make-up work, consider if in the first instance (or in which situations) that requirement might be waived. For example, an instructor I know does not ask for evidence of class absences, but students who miss must submit an alternate assignment for the attendance points—basically, it’s more work to miss than come! 

  • Academic Integrity

    Academic integrity involves a variety of unethical behaviors, all of which must be taken seriously. We are introducing you to three different approaches to dealing with academic integrity in your courses. These approaches do not need to be discrete, and you may find tips from each of them that will work in your courses. Information from this section is adapted from, Cheating Reduction Strategies (Wa-Mbaleka, 2013). 

    1. Virtue Integration: From the beginning of your course, encourage your students to strive for academic excellence and integrity. This approach has an impact on students long after your course ends and promotes self-motivation. This approach may be difficult because it depends on student cooperation and may take extra time and effort. Some good practices that align with this approach: 
      1. Design assignments that focus on higher-order thinking skills 
      2. Talk about the relation of academic integrity to professional ethics and careers 
      3. Add a signed statement that certifies the originality of the work 
      4. Be sure your assignments are manageable 
    2. Prevention: In this approach, you are focusing on limiting opportunities for students to cheat. Like the virtue integration approach, this approach may require spending more time on your assignment and assessment design. This approach however can empower students, foster faculty-student relationships, and promote learning. It is important in this approach to make your students aware of the Student Code of Conduct, particularly Article 3 and Article 5. You may consider quizzing students on these policies or making them sign a conduct pledge.
      1. The most critical component of this approach is how you design your assignments and assessments. Here are some tips for doing this effectively: 
      2. Change your assignments/exams routinely 
      3. Create assignments that require connection to real-world/personalized examples 
      4. Require drafts or steps for writing assignments 
      5. Include statements about academic integrity on the top of assignments/exams 
      6. Use different versions of the same assessment 
      7. Create make-up exams that are perceived to be harder than the original 
      8. Use question pools  
      9. Use Blackboard to submit written assignments and use Bb Safe Assign to evaluate for plagiarized content (Blackboard Ultra Tutorial; Blackboard Original Tutorial
    3. Policing: This approach focuses on catching and punishing students who practice academic dishonesty. This approach gives you the most control/power, but that may have a negative impact on the relationship you have with your students and does little to empower students or teach them the value of academic integrity. Here are some good practices for the policing approach: 
      1. Maintain test security 
      2. Set a limited time for each question or for the test 
      3. Set test to present questions/multiple choice answers randomly 
      4. Report all cheating 
  • Attendance Policies

    Attendance policies are a way to provide structure and motivation, so students are present to learn and practice. However, it is important to consider how your policies support this goal. Best practices in attendance policies take into consideration two factors: 

    1. Recognize that our students have lives and responsibilities outside as well as inside the classroom—we want to uphold standards while supporting success. This can become an equity issue as well. Is the student late periodically due to oversleeping or because they don’t have reliable transportation? Sometimes attendance policies can end up as power struggles, or even a way to “punish” students who do not behave as we’d prefer. 
    2. It is also important to follow university policies regarding attendance. If you are not familiar, you can review the policy here. One key point is that if a student is absent due to an excused absence, the instructor is obligated to allow make-up work—excused absences can include illness, religious observances, and university-sponsored events like artistic performances or athletic competitions. 
  • Technology Policies

    Rather than approaching technology with a policing approach, consider a student-centered technology statement in your syllabus.

    Maybe this technology statement resonates with the environment you want to create in your classroom:

    • Technology can support student learning, but it can also become a distraction. Research indicates that multitasking (e.g., surfing the Web, texting, or using social networks during lectures) has a negative impact on learning. Because I value you and your classmates attention and learning, I have the following policy regarding technology in class: laptops may be used for class-related activities only; please close any other apps or tabs not related to the course. You looking at non-course information steals the attention of both you and your classmates. Please keep your cell phones in your bag and on silent; if you have an urgent or emergency issue that requires you to use your phone, please step out of class so as not to disrupt others. If I decide that these technology guidelines are not being followed responsibly, I reserve the right to revise the current technology policy at any point during the term.

    Or maybe you want to keep a statement more general:

    • Technology is encouraged for course-related activities. You are preparing to be a professional, please use technology in an appropriate manner. Do your best to limit non-essential technology use. If non-essential technology use becomes a problem, it will be addressed by the instructor.

     Some of these other resources may be helpful in helping you shape technology guidelines for your class: