Assisting Students Outside of Class
Office hours and availability
It is important to make yourself available to assist students outside of class. Individual contact with instructors is very important to students; in the fall of 1998 the General Assembly of the Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution urging instructors to schedule and publicize regular office hours. Of course regularly scheduled office hours represent only one of many methods for ensuring that students have the opportunity to meet with you outside of the classroom. Others include:
Whatever method or combination of methods you use, it is most important to be sure that students know how and when to reach you. Announce your availability at the beginning of the semester, and restate it as the semester progresses and students find themselves more likely to need your assistance. Office hours or appointment requirements, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses should also be included in your syllabus and posted outside your office door.
Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction
If you see students who are having difficulty with the course material, you may wish to recommend they seek tutoring. The Office of Educational Support Services (ESS) offers free tutoring for students enrolled in most undergraduate courses except ENGL 148 and 150. Students can avail themselves of several modes of tutoring. Individualized tutoring is available to students who prefer more personalized attention. Request forms for individual tutors are available from ESS in Kelvin Smith Library. Instructors must sign the student's request form before a tutor will be assigned; this is to ensure that faculty are aware of student difficulties and that students have taken all possible steps within the class before turning to the assistance of a tutor. Walk-in tutoring is available for students enrolled in the introductory math and science courses. The Walk-In Tutoring Centers are open weekday afternoons in Kelvin Smith Library and Tuesday and Thursday evenings on both North and South sides of campus. In addition, Supplemental Instruction (SI), a form of group tutoring and review, is also available for students enrolled in introductory math, chemistry, and biology courses. Educational Support Services is located in Kelvin Smith Library, 368-5230.
Tutors hired by ESS are required to obtain permission from the appropriate academic department, usually from the particular course's instructor, before starting to work. Instructors are encouraged to recommend outstanding students as tutors.
The Writing Center
The Writing Center, operated by the English Department, offers writing instruction free of charge to undergraduates in thirty-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions. Most tutoring is done on a weekly appointment basis, although limited walk-in time is available. Students may also have their papers for specific courses critiqued with the permission of the instructor. The Writing Center is located in Bellflower House, Room 100; the phone number is 368-3798.
Other forms of assistance
As an instructor you interact with students on a daily or almost daily basis, and have opportunities to notice changes in their attitude or performance. Students may trust you and come to you with problems outside of your area of expertise. The following campus services are available to help students through personal problems or academic problems beyond your assistance. Don't hesitate to refer students to the appropriate services; they may feel too proud to go without prompting or may be unaware of the resources available to them.
You should also be sure to contact the student's adviser or the Office of Undergraduate Studies if you have any concerns. The adviser can determine if the student is having difficulties in classes other than yours as well, and may be able to intervene more readily than you.
Office of Undergraduate Studies
The Office of Undergraduate Studies oversees all undergraduate academic advising, maintains the academic records of all undergraduates, and monitors and enforces academic regulations and standards. For questions and concerns about academic honesty and student performance contact the Office of Undergraduate Studies, Baker 102, 368-2928.
University Counseling Services
University Counseling Services (UCS) provides individual, group, and couples counseling for undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students and their spouses. The staff of psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists respect the student's need for confidentiality and, therefore, will not disclose information to any other person without the student's written consent except in cases of imminent danger.
Walk-in counseling is available every day at 3:00 pm.
Instructors who are concerned about a student's well-being are welcome to call UCS for advice on how or whether to approach the student. UCS is located in Sears 201, 368-5872.
Absences and excuses
Students are expected to attend class regularly. Each instructor keeps his or her own record of student absences and is free to determine the extent to which absences affect the final grades of students (source: General Bulletin). Each instructor should specify an attendance policy at the beginning of the semester and include it in the syllabus.
The most comprehensive method for taking attendance is to call roll. This can be time-consuming, especially for a large class, but it is important to have an accurate record of attendance for each student. Instructors may also take attendance by circulating a blank sheet on which students may sign their names, or by assigning seating and marking empty spaces on a chart, or by giving quizzes or quick response writings which students must hand in before leaving. The official class list distributed by the Registrar should not be circulated unless the Social Security numbers have been marked out; to circulate Social Security numbers is a violation of student privacy.
An instructor who feels a student is jeopardizing his or her class work by absence should report this to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies for such action as the dean considers appropriate. An instructor who judges a student's absences from his or her class to be excessive may exclude the student from class and assign a grade of F. Instructors taking such action must notify the dean in writing (source: General Bulletin, chapter on Undergraduate Studies).
Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs is excused from any such activity. The student will be given the opportunity to make up the examination or work that was missed, to the extent possible, at the discretion of the instructor (source: Faculty Handbook). Students should be requested to tell the instructor well in advance of such religious observances.
Documentation of absences
If you have any doubts about a student's explanation of his or her absence, you should request documentation. It may be wise to set a blanket policy of requiring documentation for excused absences, with the assumption that any absence left unexplained to the instructor's satisfaction will be treated as unexcused.
The University Health Service (UHS) does not issue class excuses. However, under certain circumstances and at the request of the student, UHS will provide written verification of the date of a student's visit, and with student permission will communicate with the appropriate dean's office in the event of hospitalization or prolonged illness.
In the event of a death in the family or other personal crisis requiring the student's absence from class, the student should notify the Office of Undergraduate Studies, 368-2928, which will provide documentation of such absences to instructors. In the event of such excused absence, arrangements should be made with the student to make up an exam or any other missed work within a period of time comparable to the period of the absence; for example, if a student must be absent for three days, work should be made up within a week.
Students who are involved in athletic or other extra-curricular activities may present written explanations of an event-related absence provided by the coach or sponsor. Such explanations are not automatically excuses for absences from class. Any such events are scheduled well in advance; students should let the instructor know about the absence ahead of time and make prior arrangements to make up work.
A student must explain immediately and in writing to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies an absence from a final examination. If the explanation is acceptable, the dean will authorize the assignment of the grade Incomplete and the administration of a make-up examination by the instructor. In the event of an unexcused absence from a final examination, a student should be assigned a final grade that assumes a grade of zero on the final examination and is otherwise consistent with the grading policy for the course. (source: General Bulletin, chapter on Undergraduate Studies).
Students who attend without being registered
Only students who are officially registered for a class are permitted to attend that class. Instructors may permit students to sit in on occasional classes at their discretion, but students who wish to attend class regularly without receiving credit should be advised to register as auditors. Any students who attend class but are not listed on the class roster should be directed to see the Registrar or the Office of Undergraduate Studies to resolve any registration problems they may have, and should not be admitted to the classroom until formally enrolled. Unregistered students should never be permitted to take part in laboratory activities.
Students who stop attending class
If a student is absent without explanation for more than a few class sessions, this should be reported to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The Dean's office will then contact the student to determine the reason for the absence and, if appropriate, assist the student to resolve problems keeping him or her from attending class. If the student fails to return, the instructor should note when the student last attended and report this to Undergraduate Studies; this information is crucial for federal financial aid requirements and must be noted as accurately as possible.
An instructor who judges a student's absences from his or her class to be excessive may exclude the student from class and assign a grade of F. Instructors taking such action must notify the Dean of Undergraduate Studies in writing. (source: General Bulletin, chapter on Undergraduate Studies).
Emergencies in the classroom
The following procedure is the official University response protocol. (High-risk learning environments such as laboratories may also have their own procedures which are to be followed concurrently with notification of Security.)
All emergency situations occurring within the University should be immediately reported to CWRU Security at 368-3333.
The Security dispatcher will contact the appropriate emergency response agency and Security personnel will coordinate response.
In the event of accident or illness of any sort (including mental health emergencies), observe the following procedure.
Security personnel will respond and coordinate the necessary emergency response. If the person is ambulatory, University Circle Police Department will transport him or her: if not, Emergency Medical Service will be notified.
Emergency response personnel will determine to which hospital the victim will be taken for treatment.
Depending on where you are located, it may be wise to send someone outside to wait for assistance and escort them to the scene while another person waits with the injured person.
You should also protect the student's privacy by clearing the area of others, and follow up by reassuring others that the student has been attended to and assisted.
Good Samaritan Law
According to Ohio law, no person shall be liable in civil damages for administering emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency at a place other than a hospital, doctor's office, or other place having proper medical equipment, for acts performed at the scene of such emergency, unless such as constitute willful or wanton misconduct.
Nothing in this provision applies to the administering of such care or treatment where the same is rendered for remuneration, or with the expectation of remuneration, from the recipient of such care or treatment or someone on his behalf. The administering of such care or treatment by one as a part of his duties as a paid member of any organization of law enforcement officials or fire fighters does not cause such to be a rendering for remuneration or expectation of remuneration.
If the fire alarm goes off, instructors should always lead their classes quickly and quietly outside of the building.
Unusual problems with the classroom
Occasionally a problem will arise with the classroom space during the semester. Please report the specific problem to one of the designated offices listed below. If the problem is not resolved in a timely fashion, please send a detailed e-mail message to email@example.com.
Plant Services Department, 368-2580
Disability Services, 368-5230
When is it appropriate to cancel class?
Time spent in class is very important to the success of the university's educational mission. Each class session is an integral part of the overall semester plan; when a class is cancelled, students and faculty alike find it difficult to compensate for that disruption. Most students pay more than $30 per class session in tuition, and should not have their time and money wasted with unnecessary cancellations. Classes should only be cancelled under the most compelling circumstances.
Conferences and travel
If you know in advance that you will be away from campus for a professional activity, make arrangements for a class activity which can be held in your absence, preferably with a colleague acting as substitute. Instructors should try to arrange their travels to minimize such absences.
In the event of severe weather, every attempt will be made to see that the University remains open for regularly scheduled classes, to provide food service and other residence hall support activities, to conduct continuing research activities, and to maintain normal office and business operations. Faculty, staff, and students should make every effort to fulfill their University obligations despite unfavorable weather conditions. However, good judgment should continue to govern decisions about specific activities.
In the unlikely event that the decision is made to suspend CWRU classes or other operations, official closing information will be broadcast on local commercial radio and television stations and on the University Cable Channel 26 "Info Board" and will be available by dialing 368-WARN (368-9276). Information may also be announced on the student-run campus radio station, WRUW 91.1 FM.
Instructors should assume that CWRU will remain open and plan accordingly.
Medical or personal emergency
It is sometimes necessary for an instructor to miss a class due to a medical or personal emergency. In that event, every effort should be made to notify students as soon as possible, either by sending a message to the course's e-mail alias or electronic roundtable or by asking a colleague or assistant to make a formal announcement to the class. Arrangements for making up the missed class time should be made as quickly as possible.
Maintaining an appropriate and civil educational atmosphere
As the instructor, you are responsible for the nature of the day-to-day interactions in your classroom and for establishing and maintaining a climate of respect and civility. The best way to lead is by example. In particular, instructors should never humiliate or ridicule students-what might seem like good-natured teasing among peers is completely inappropriate from one who has instructional power in the classroom. You are a member of the classroom community, but are also its leader. As its leader, you must take appropriate disciplinary action if students violate the University's Standards of Conduct (see below).
Appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the classroom
The formality of classroom proceedings varies widely from instructor to instructor, depending on the nature of the subject matter and its activities, the size of the class, and the personality of the instructor. Appropriate behavior must therefore be defined by the instructor so that students will understand the standards for each class.
Eating and drinking
State your policy on food and beverage in the classroom on the first day. Some instructors do not mind if students discreetly sip soft drinks or chew gum in class; others find it terribly distracting, and should not hesitate to prohibit the distracting behavior. In some class settings, such as laboratories, computer rooms, and libraries, food and drink are strictly prohibited.
Students should be alert and ready for every class, but many students will show up without having gotten enough sleep. When students sleep in the classroom, they not only miss the class activity, they distract other students and the instructor, who can't be sure if the student is overtired or simply uninterested. Some instructors suggest that students who fear they will fall asleep may stand at the back of the classroom to help keep awake; others prefer to speak to the drowsy student after class and help him or her find ways to keep awake in the future. Whatever the solution, you should not hesitate to make clear to your students that alert, wakeful attendance is a requirement for success in your class.
Respectful interaction with others
In many classes, lively discussion and even debate is a crucial element of the learning process. However, it is the instructor's responsibility to ensure that argument does not degenerate into incivility. Insist the first day that discussions, however vigorous, must remain respectful at all times. If personal attacks or inappropriate comments do arise, you should indicate your disapproval immediately and redirect discussion in an appropriate manner. Remaining silent when inappropriate remarks are made gives students the impression that you don't mind or even approve; students will not usually infer that the real reason for your silence is acute discomfort.
You also have a right to expect that students will behave respectfully to you. It is up to you to clarify what constitutes informality and what amounts to insubordination. If students persist in inappropriate interactions, remind them of the University's standards of conduct (see below) and tell them you will enforce this code of behavior.
Official CWRU Standards of Conduct (source: General Bulletin)
A student enrolling in the University assumes an obligation to behave in a manner compatible with the University's function as an educational institution. It is clear that in a community of learning, willful disruption of the educational process, destruction of property, dishonesty, and interference with the rights of other members of the University cannot be tolerated. The University retains the power to maintain order within the University and to exclude those who are disruptive to the educational process.
Conduct which is subject to University disciplinary action includes:
Harassment is a violation of the University's standards of conduct and should be dealt with as such. Although there are many possible kinds of harassment, there is a special policy governing sexual harassment, which is found in full in the Faculty Handbook and the Student Services Guide. The following is a synopsis of the University's policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment.
If you find yourself the victim of sexual harassment or become aware of a case of harassment among your colleagues, you must keep in mind the following rules.
Further details about the formal and informal complaint process, the rules for meetings, and the procedures for reporting and appealing findings may be found in the full Sexual Harassment policy printed in the General Bulletin, the Faculty Handbook, and the Student Services Guide.
To whom can you turn for assistance and advice?
Most of the time, if you have a problem with the interpersonal actions of your students or colleagues, you should be able to turn to your supervisor or department chair, according to your department's structure. However, there may be times when this person may not be an appropriate resource, either because he or she is part of the problem or because you are seeking advice and guidance beyond that person's immediate experience. The following are University programs and departments that may be able to provide support and advice for handling difficult situations.
Office of Undergraduate Studies
The Office of Undergraduate Studies oversees all undergraduate academic advising, maintains the academic records of all undergraduates, and monitors and enforces academic regulations and standards. Questions about academic honesty and student performance should be discussed with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Baker 102, 368-2928.
University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education (UCITE)
UCITE provides advice, support, and education in university-level teaching and can offer resources and techniques to foster an appropriate classroom environment. Contact the UCITE director in Baker 122, 368-1224.
Faculty Women's Mentoring Luncheon
On the first day of each month, new women faculty may meet in the Faculty Dining Room with experienced women faculty members for informal discussion of the special problems and opportunities faced by women in academia. This is an especially important resource for women teaching in traditionally male-dominated disciplines who may not have many female role models or mentors immediately available.
University Counseling Services (UCS)
Although UCS is primarily a resource for undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students and their spouses, counselors can offer one-time advice to faculty and adjunct instructors experiencing a crisis. Instructors who are concerned about a student's emotional state or behavior are also invited to call UCS for advice on how or whether to approach the student. Walk-in counseling is available every day at 3:00 pm. UCS is located in Sears 201, 368-5872.
Discipline and Judicial Board
Any member of the University community may notify the Office of Student Affairs of violations of the University standard of conduct. After review by the Assistant Vice President, the case is referred to the University Judicial Board, University Administrative Hearing, the Residence Life Judicial Board, or the Interfraternity/Panhellenic Board. Contact Clay Barnard, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, in Adelbert 110 at 368-2020 for more information.
Fostering Academic Integrity
Establishing ethical standards in your own class
CWRU has an official statement of ethics, but not an official university honor code. This puts responsibility on the instructor to explain and enforce ethical norms, both those of the campus and classroom environment and those of a particular discipline.
Most students are fundamentally honest. However, there are a few who do choose to violate the university's ethical norms, and it is important to recognize this and eliminate both the temptation and the opportunity to cheat. In so doing you are acting in good faith to majority of students who respect and value academic integrity.
On your syllabus and from the first day of class onward, state and demonstrate your ethical standards. This is crucial; many students believe that if an instructor is silent about ethical standards, it means he or she does not care about them. Put your protocol for exams and specific assignments on the syllabus, and review it as the exam or project deadline nears.
You must also present an appropriate ethical model for students by setting an example of fair and consistent behavior. If students think you are willing to bend the rules yourself, they will see no reason to behave more carefully themselves.
Fostering academic integrity on exams
In addition to explaining to the class that the University Statement on Ethics applies to the students in your course, you should take actions that indicate that you are serious about it.
One of the best preventive measures is getting to know your students well. Students will be more likely to cheat if they feel there is distance between them and the instructor or their fellow students, and large classes can give the illusion of anonymity. Students who feel they belong to a particular class and have obligations to its members, on the other hand, will be more reluctant to violate its shared trust by cheating.
The following are some suggestions that many instructors have found helpful in making cheating less tempting at various stages:
After the exam
Preventing Plagiarism at CWRU
Plagiarism is defined as the submission of work done by another with the intent that it be viewed and evaluated as one's own. Thus copying on an examination, turning in a term paper or homework assignment done by someone else, and making extensive use of sources without acknowledging them are all interpreted as acts of plagiarism.
Plagiarism can range from sloppy citation practices which obscure the line between a student's own ideas and those borrowed from others, to careless assumptions about what is and isn't common knowledge, to full-fledged presentation of borrowed, stolen, or purchased papers written by someone else.
Teach students about plagiarism
The best way to prevent students from plagiarizing out of ignorance is to teach them carefully what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Students frequently bring inaccurate assumptions about research, note-taking, and writing from sources into the college classroom. You will need to discover the extent of those misperceptions and deliberately challenge and replace them with accurate citation methods. It may be necessary to have students complete exercises or engage in discussion to be sure they understand what you've taught them. Require students to hand in drafts and, if possible, discuss them with you individually, and familiarize yourself with students' writing as early as possible.
You should clarify for students what sources are considered acceptable for research work (for example, if information downloaded from the World Wide Web is legitimate), and how those sources should be documented and cited. If your discipline has a particular style manual, require them to buy or borrow it and teach them how to use it. Teach them, too, about listing acknowledgements in their papers as well as citing literature; they may not be aware that constructive collaboration can and should be generously acknowledged, and may be afraid of collaborating with peers because they don't know how to attribute correctly the ideas thus gained. Instructors should be aware that as part of each year's Freshman Orientation (starting in 1998), incoming students have been advised to acknowledge any collaboration and assistance they have received on assignments.
Cultural issues regarding plagiarism and intellectual property
In the United States we tend to think that issues of plagiarism and cheating are fairly clear-cut. Unless there is some real ambiguity about procedures for a given assignment, we assume that work is to be performed by individuals and that writing should reflect one's own original ideas or give credit to sources. However, not all cultures share this individualistic perspective. In many countries, the mark of erudition is not one's ability to generate original ideas but one's ability to quote or otherwise demonstrate command of classically approved knowledge. Students may include ideas and information in their written work without giving proper credit to their sources. The students are not necessarily trying to cheat, but genuinely may be unaware of the fact that they are applying different ethical standards from yours.
You can avoid problems with different cultural attitudes toward intellectual property by discussing the issue openly in the classroom. Explain in clear terms what you mean by academic honesty, including the broader principles underlying any specific policies. Clearly delineate when students may work collaboratively and when work is to be the result of individual effort. Hold a discussion of what it means to be a learned person in American culture, and invite questions. If you suspect copying or collaboration, determine whether it is possible that the student doesn't realize which set of norms is supposed to apply before pursuing a charge of cheating. That said, once you have made it clear what your standards are, enforce them; you are ultimately obligated to uphold the standards which prevail in American culture, and should not allow students to use cultural difference as an excuse for not learning and applying them.
Setting fair standards for collaborative groups
Most graded assignments at the university rely on individual effort, but many courses rely wholly or in part on student group work in laboratories, writing projects, classroom exercises, or discussions. Students may take inappropriate advantage of study or lab partners to avoid doing work, or may make mistakes because they don't know how to make their groups function effectively.
If you use collaborative groups in your class, spend time teaching students how they are supposed to work. Outline the stages a project should follow through the group. Otherwise students will have to devise their own process, and without sufficient guidance they may make such missteps as dividing work without ensuring the group comes together again to review the finished project.
Check in with your groups frequently, and talk to the members individually as well. Build in meetings or deadlines for reporting or assessing progress. If problems arise, you can deal with them if you know about them as they occur; it's too late when the project is handed in.
Explain at the outset how individual contributions will be evaluated in relation to the group. Devise ways for students to evaluate the group themselves and to comment on the way in which their individual work built on the activities of the group. Some instructors find it useful to require each student to sign an ethics statement on the first page of the finished product indicating that each individual has contributed equal effort to the project and will assume responsibility for the final product.
However collaborative assignments are structured, instructors should be aware of any possible problems. Mechanisms should be designed to prevent individual students from failing to fulfill their share of the assignment; "freeloaders" should be made aware that attempting to take credit for the work of their classmates is as dishonest as copying on an examination. Individual students should also have means by which to resolve problems they encounter with other members of their groups. Evaluation of the assignment should include some method of measuring individual performance within the group. Instructors may wish to contact UCITE for suggestions about how to structure and monitor collaborative activities.
Identifying and addressing misconduct
If you suspect a student has plagiarized or cheated, arrange a conference with the student has soon as possible and give him or her an opportunity to explain what is questionable in the assignment or exam. Determine whether the problem is the result of a misunderstanding about the rules for the assignment or about standards of citation, or if the student has deliberately violated academic regulations. Give the student a chance to admit wrongdoing or explain what happened; but if once you have discussed the matter you are still sure the student has cheated, follow the procedures detailed below.
After conferring with the student, you are expected to consult with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Consultation with the Dean will still allow for due consideration of student confusion or naivete, and does not necessarily take resolution of the matter out of the hands of the instructor. Further, if the student has established a pattern of misconduct in other classes as well, this may indicate that the student needs special attention or is not being completely honest with the instructor.
Official CWRU Procedure for Academic Infractions (source: General Bulletin, chapter on Undergraduate Studies)
If a faculty member suspects that an undergraduate student at CWRU has presented the work of another as his or her own, or is otherwise guilty of academic dishonesty, the faculty member shall so advise the student and the departmental chair and consult with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies about the basis for those suspicions and appropriate disciplinary action. If the faculty member and the dean agree that the evidence is not adequate to support a complaint, the matter will be dropped, and the student will be so notified. If they do not agree to drop the matter, the following procedures will be followed.
If the infraction is a first offense, the dean and the faculty member may agree to leave the disposition of the matter to the faculty member. The student and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies will be notified in writing and a confidential record of the event and action shall be put on file in the Office of Undergraduate Studies.
Alternatively, following consultation with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, under any of the following circumstances, the faculty member will transmit a report of the infraction to the assistant vice president for student affairs or his/her designate for judicial action:
In the event of any of the circumstances listed above, the Dean of Student Affairs will convene a University Judicial Board to hear the case as promptly as is feasible and fair. When hearing a case with an academic infraction the University Judicial Board shall consist of a representative of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, a representative of the Office of Student Affairs, and one student and one faculty member qualified to serve as a result of their participation in the judicial board training program. Should the Board find there was insufficient evidence to support the charge, the faculty member will be so informed and asked to evaluate the student's performance for the assignment in question by his/her normal grading practices. If the Board upholds the complaint of the faculty member, the panel will transmit notification of its findings and action to both the faculty member and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies for implementation. The action taken by the University Judicial Board may include recommendations for a grade made to the faculty member and the imposition of additional disciplinary sanctions, as outlined in the Student Services Guide. In addition, the University is required to report to the funding agency the identity and misconduct of anyone, including a student, found guilty of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism in the performance of research that is receiving support from federal sources.
Chapter Two: The Beginning of the Semester
Chapter Four: Midterms and Semester's End
Table of Contents