FROM: Barbara Casey, Registrar
RE: Information on Selected College Policies and Academic Regulations
SUBMISSION OF COURSE SYLLABI
Once again the College Libraries are requesting copies of your syllabi in electronic form. Please e-mail your syllabi files as attachments to the College Archivist, Sylvia Kennick Brown (e-mail: Sylvia.Kennick.Brown@williams.edu).
PACE OF REQUIRED WORK AND EVALUATION
Students are greatly helped in planning work for all courses if professors clearly set out in advance their expectations about the nature and timing of required work. Students should receive course syllabi promptly at the beginning of the course, and any revisions should follow as soon thereafter as possible. The dates of in-term exams should be included if possible. In addition, please list any field trips or other special activities and inform Jon Bakija, Chair of the Calendar & Schedule Committee, of any such trips.
Students should receive periodic evaluation of their work during the semester. The evaluation can be in many forms: papers, quizzes, tests, graded laboratory reports, etc. In courses designed primarily for first-year students, some substantial part of a course's graded work should be scheduled and evaluated before warnings are due at mid-semester.
Occasionally, the Office of Academic Resources will request faculty members to modify course procedures in order to accommodate students with disabilities. These modifications are in almost all cases very minor, such as the provision of a note-taker or extended time on an exam. In the case of extended exam time, you will be given timely notice so that arrangements can be made. You should feel free to call the Director of Academic Resources if, for any reason, you feel the need for advice or information on this subject.
The College administers no general program to ensure class attendance. But the Catalog makes clear that "faculty may set standards of attendance as they feel are necessary for the satisfactory completion of the course," and that "students must assume the academic risks incurred by absences." Students have also been told that instructors may drop from their courses, or refuse to add, anyone who misses the first class meeting.
Because many of you, in some way, factor attendance into the calculation of final grades, I strongly recommend that you explain your attendance policy as clearly and specifically as you can, both on your syllabus and in class. Clarity of expectation is very important and helpful to everyone should problems arise in the course of the term. You should also ask your students to talk to you about any conflicts as early as they can, and never less than a week beforehand.
Students who repeatedly miss class are often experiencing a variety of academic and personal problems. If one of your students is repeatedly missing classes, please notify the Dean's Office so that we can offer the student help and advice.
Below is a link to the Chaplains’ Office listing major religious holidays. Members of the community who wish to celebrate such holidays would appreciate it if you would avoid scheduling required classes or exercises on those days. A Massachusetts law, included in the Catalog, stipulates that students who cannot meet course requirements at the appointed time because they are observing religious holidays must be provided the opportunity to make up the work--unless, in the words of the law, it creates "an unreasonable burden" on the school and the faculty. http://chaplain.williams.edu/religious-holidays/
"BUT MY RIDE IS LEAVING . . ."
Students are expected to attend classes even on days when there is an unusually strong desire to skip; e.g., the last day before spring break.
It may be helpful to know that informational material sent to students this summer included the following statement: "When planning your departures from the College at holidays or vacations, please bear in mind that you will not be excused (by your teachers or deans) from classes or exams to accommodate early departures."
TUTORING PROGRAM, THE WRITING WORKSHOP, and
THE MATH SCIENCE RESOURCE CENTER
Each year department chairs provide THE ACADEMIC RESOURCES OFFICE with lists of students (often majors in the field) who could serve as tutors for students wanting and/or seeking additional support in that department’s courses. If you think a student could be helped by a tutor, please refer him or her to the Office of Academic Resources for information. Tutors are provided to students without charge.
The Writing Workshop is a peer-staffed writing support service available to all students and is free of charge. Writing tutors are available most evenings in Sawyer Library and in Schow Science Library, as well as at the Drop-In Center in Paresky. At the Drop-in Center at Paresky students can get support from peer tutors without an appointment; drop-in sessions are best suited for students with less complicated writing questions. Appointments at Schow and Sawyer are in hour-long blocks and must be scheduled in advance using the online scheduler on the Writing Workshop webpage; scheduled appointments are more appropriate for students who’d like to do more focused work with the one-to-one guidance of a writing tutor. Sessions can focus on nearly finished essays or on essays at any stage of development. Tutors ask questions and generate dialogue, so they can help their peers with essays at the very earliest stages of composition and thought. Advice offered by writing tutors focuses on form and effectiveness of writing but does not address content directly.
The Writing Workshop also offers a Writing Partner service to support students who may need more attention and guidance than can be provided within a regular Writing Workshop session. A student who requests a Writing Partner is paired with a specific tutor who can provide specialized ongoing guidance on writing assignments throughout the semester. Working with a Writing Partner can be particularly helpful for students who are less experienced writers or concerned about meeting writing demands in multiple courses. Only a limited number of writing partners is available each semester, so students in need are encouraged to make requests early by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
The Math Science Resource Center (MSRC) is devoted to helping Williams students taking the following courses: in Mathematics (MATH 103, MATH 104, MATH 105, MATH 106), Biology (BIOL 101, BIOL 102, and BIOL 202), Chemistry (CHEM 151, CHEM 153, CHEM 155, CHEM 156, CHEM 251, and CHEM 256) and Physics (PHYS 131, PHYS 132, PHYS 141, and PHYS 142). Students enrolled in the courses listed above may drop by the Resource Center whenever they have questions for a student tutor or when they are looking for a place to study with others taking the same course. The Center, located in Thompson Physics rooms 113, 114, and 205 is staffed by FACULTY-NOMINATED Williams students and works in close COLLABORATION with the faculty. The Center is open Sunday through Thursday evenings, 8 p.m. until midnight. The schedule for support in specific classes may be found: http://www.williams.edu/resources/acad_resources/
Students are welcome at the Math Science Resource Center as often as they would like to come. This service is provided to students without charge. If you have questions about any of these Academic Resources, please feel free to call the Office of Academic Resources at x4672 or stop in at its new location, Room 202 in the Paresky Center.
ACADEMIC HONESTY AND THE HONOR CODE
If you have reason to believe at any point that a student has committed a breach of academic honesty, please contact the Faculty Chair of the Honor Committee, Cheryl Shanks, directly. Do not first discuss the matter with the student involved.
During registration in the fall, all Williams students agree to abide by an academic Honor Code, which is described in the Course Catalog and in the Student Handbook. The Honor Code covers all aspects of academic honesty, including the writing of papers and laboratory reports as well as all quizzes, hour tests, and examinations. Reports of violations of the Honor Code are reviewed by the Student Honor Committee, which is responsible for determining the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for recommending appropriate punishment to the Dean. A committee of faculty members sits with the Student Honor Committee in an advisory capacity.
The Honor Committee joins me in requesting that all your syllabi include an explanation of how the Honor Code applies to all aspects of evaluated work in your course, especially if you assign collaborative projects of any kind. As in the case of attendance policy, making your expectations clear is very important. Many instructors have found it helpful to include a sentence like the following on their syllabi: "If you are uncertain how the Honor Code applies to your work in this course, please ask me."
The Honor Committee has designed a web site with a wide variety of useful information about The Honor Code, procedures relating to it, definitions of plagiarism, and more. Information of special interest to faculty can be found at http://committees.williams.edu/honor-system
WITHDRAWALS FROM COURSES
A student may be permitted to withdraw once during the first year and once again during the upperclass years from a course (incurring a deficiency but no grade penalty) as late as the tenth week of the semester. A withdrawal, recorded on the transcript as a “W,” is granted only with the approval of the instructor and a dean when it is determined that despite conscientious effort to do the work, continuation in the course would be detrimental to the overall educational interest or health of the student. A student may approach a faculty member for the purpose of discussing his/her interest in withdrawing from a course, or may be referred to the instructor by a dean. In any event, it is necessary for the student to discuss the prospect of the withdrawal with both the instructor and the dean before a decision is reached.
Due to the confidential subject matter of such cases, medical withdrawals from courses are managed slightly differently and do not require the instructor’s approval. A dean may, at his or her discretion, and with a recommendation from a health care provider, withdraw a student from a course for medical reasons. The dean will inform the instructor. Medical withdrawals may be granted at any time during the semester.
EXTENSIONS OF DEADLINES
Deadlines for course work are set by the instructor with the following limitations:
· For courses with final exams, the latest that written work may be due is 5:00 p.m. on the last day of reading period.
· For courses without final exams, the latest that written work may be due is 5:00 p.m. on the third-to-last day of the exam period.
· If work is due before these deadlines, the instructor may grant an extension up to these deadlines solely at his or her discretion. Short extensions beyond these deadlines may be granted by a dean but only with the concurrence of the instructor. Therefore, if a dean believes an extension for a course is appropriate, he or she will contact the instructor to discuss the matter and set the new deadline before granting the extension to the student.
· If students contact you directly requesting extensions beyond the last day of the reading period for courses with finals, or the third-to-last day of the exam period for courses without finals, you may either direct them to the dean's office if you would consider approving an extension, or else tell them not to bother since you will not approve any extensions.
SCHEDULING FINAL EXAMINATIONS
Final exams may be given only in the period set aside for them at the end of the semester, and not during the semester itself or during the reading period. If you wish to have an exception to this rule, please contact me. Any other special arrangements for final exams, e.g., a final exam with both take-home and in-class components, also should be discussed with me in advance.
I would strongly discourage you from scheduling hour exams during the last week of classes. Exams in that week make it all the more difficult for students to comply with the faculty’s deadlines for the submission of final papers.
Students with three or more consecutive final exams are considered to have a hardship. In such cases, on request of the student, the Dean’s Office may ask the instructor to consider giving that student a make-up exam. We make such requests only after carefully considering the nature of the hardship for the student and for the instructor; and in no case will we ask for make-ups simply to permit an early departure or to accommodate a student’s travel plans.
INCOMPLETES AND PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS FOR COMPLETING WORK
The grade of "incomplete" is approved by the Dean's Office only in cases of serious emergencies. In such cases, a dean, an instructor, and a student may agree to defer dates for papers and exams until a specified time after the end of the semester.
Faculty should work directly with the Dean's Office if a student is in academic difficulty at the end of the semester. Faculty members should not enter into private arrangements with students for completion of work at the end of the term. Those students frequently are having difficulty in other courses, and private arrangements in one course often works to the detriment of the student and the Committee on Academic Standing when it reviews records at the end of each semester.
SUBMISSION OF TERM GRADES
By faculty vote, course grades must be submitted to the Registrar within four days after the final exam in a course, or, if there is no exam, within four days after the last day of classes or within four days after final written work was due, whichever is later. Noon on Friday, May 24th is the ABSOLUTE DEADLINE for reporting grades of degree candidates.
It is obvious why such a timetable must be observed for graduating seniors, but perhaps less widely understood why such promptness is needed in all other cases. At the end of every term, the Committee on Academic Standing meets to review the records of students in academic difficulty; it needs to have all their grades in order to decide whether students with deficient records will be required to resign, be placed on academic probation, or issued an academic warning. Committee members devote part of their time before and after graduation to this important work; that work is often hampered by missing grades. If decisions cannot be made because the records are incomplete, students cannot be notified, and those students who need to arrange coursework in summer programs cannot meet the deadlines they face.