ISU Writing Program Policies

ISU Writing Program: Practical Guidelines and Policies for Instructors & Students

The following list of policies is focused on those elements of ENG 101/101.10 courses that should be coherent across sections of the course. This does not mean that policies will be identical, since each instructor will be free to modify these policies in various ways. Please read the following policies carefully, noting both the basic, standard policies and the various ways instructors might modify them.

Course Design

There is no standardized course design that restricts instructor choice about course projects, grading and evaluation, or other classroom practices. Instead, instructors are asked to follow the general requirements for WP instructors, the particular course requirements for their course and to provide the Writing Program with copies (at the beginning of each semester) of their course syllabus and descriptions of their major writing projects.

Textbook Selection

The ISU Grassroots Writing Research Journal (a text which will include materials from students and instructors at ISU), is a required text for ENG 101/101.10 and for ENG 145 (145.13 does not have a required text). In addition, our online archives will include a range of articles, sample texts, genre descriptions, and definitions of terms and concepts etc. that instructors can use for their courses. In addition, Instructors may include a supplemental text (one that retails for $25.00 or less) but in general should not use a separate textbook. If you wish to use an additional text, you must first submit a rationale for your use of the text to the Writing Program Director. If you have excerpts of texts that you regularly use, please let us know, and we can arrange to have scanned versions of these texts (or links to library sources for the text) available in our online resources.

Program Learning Outcomes

We have developed a specific set of learning outcomes for ENG 101 and ENG 145. These outcomes articulate the skills and concepts we want students to be learning, and they also connect the course to the University Learning Goals for inner core general education courses. These learning outcomes will be used to guide course development, and to assess student learning and instructor efficacy. We ask that all instructors take both the writing program and university learning outcomes and goals into account as they design their ENG 101 and 145 courses. Instructors should feel confident that the projects they are assigning will (with student investment) result in students leaving the course with the skills and experiences outlined in the learning outcomes.


Our grading policies are designed to offer students feedback about the overall quality of their work in the course. While instructors will have a great deal of flexibility in how they design and enact grading policies, there will be certain basic policies that should be followed by everyone. While grades can be affected by extra-course issues such as attendance, tardiness, incomplete work, etc., here are the key points we want to remember at all times:

Grades should be primarily based on students’ ability to learn and to showcase their learning processes related to both producing textual artifacts and understanding how such artifacts are produced — this means that our goal is not to grade the quality of final productions, but the quality of learning as exemplified by students’ abilities to demonstrate/articulate what they know (and don’t know) about how to write in a particular genre/situation. This learning can (and should) be incorporated into their written productions, but grades should (as much as possible) be based in the authors ability to identify/articulate what he/she has done (because in some cases the ability to know how to do it is not directly tied to the ability to articulate what one has done (or ought to be doing — but can’t yet).

We do want students to attend class, so penalties for attendance/missed work are acceptable (see attendance policy below). However, we also want to make sure that we offer, in each class period, information and activities that lead in obvious ways toward the needed knowledge to produce the assigned work (and assessment/articulation of that work). So if you find yourself saying, “she got a B because she missed class, but all her writing was really A quality,” you may want to rethink either your grading practices or your classroom activities (or both).

A student who attends the course without excessive absences, participates in daily activities, completes original work in a timely manner, and does not turn in work that is drastically incomplete (i.e., it might be missing an element or two of the activities for the project, but enough is there to show that he/she definitely did the work), should NOT FAIL THE COURSE. If you have a syllabus that results in this kind of failure, then you should carefully review and change your grading policies.

Students should be able to understand the criteria being used to assess grades. From our genre perspective, this means that (whether you use student-grading or you assess grades) genre discussions are a critical means of creating the criteria through which student work is graded.

It is not acceptable for a course design to give final grades for significant projects that students have not had a chance to revise (with feedback). In addition, the program does not support a semester-based portfolio method in which students receive no grades until the end of the semester.

Course grades should reflect (as a whole) the Learning Outcomes appropriate to that course (101/145) and the specific course requirements.


The Grading Scale

The ISU Writing Program uses the following grading scale (without – or + grades)

90-100 = A

80-89 = B

70-79 = C

60-69 = D

0-59 = F

Instructors are not required to offer numeric scores for grades on either projects or portfolios, but offering numerical grades can be a good way to clarify achievement for students. If you are quantifying other aspects of course activities (class participation, in-class writing, etc.), then you should also quantify project/portfolio grades.

However, if you are using a portfolio system (see more on portfolio vs. project-based grading in the “Goals and Techniques section) with provisional grades, letter grades for provisional grades are often more appropriate than numerical grades because they represent a loosely defined assessment that is subject to significant change. In this case, assigning numerical value can create more rigidity than the instructor might want.


Attendance Policies (101 & 145)

Starting in Fall 2010, the ISU Writing Program instituted a standard, program-wide policy for attendance. Instructors still have flexibility in assessing penalties for attendance, but the basic policy should be the same for each course. The basic policy is as follows:

For a MWF course: Three absences are unpenalized

Each absence beginning with four receives a penalty of 1/3 of a letter grade. This means that whatever the FINAL letter grade in the course, it is reduced by the accrued absences. Ten absences is just slightly over 20% of the classes for the course, and thus results in an automatic failing grade for the course.

For a TR course: Two absences are unpenalized

Each absence after this results in a ½ letter grade reduction. This means that whatever the FINAL letter grade in the course, it is reduced by the accrued absences. Eight absences is just slightly over 20% of the classes for the course, and thus results in an automatic failing grade for the course.

For ENG 101.10 (two-days a week, M-W or T-R): Two absences without penalty:

Each absence after this results in a ½ letter grade reduction. This means that whatever the FINAL letter grade in the course, it is reduced by the accrued absences. Eight absences is just slightly over 20% of the classes for the course, and thus results in an automatic failing grade for the course. In addition, instructors in 101.10 should reserve a specific percentage of your course grade for student participation in consulting sessions. [NOTE: We recommend 5-10% of the grade]. You can determine this grade based on the midterm and end of the semester reports your receive from consultants, or you may choose to allow consultants to assign students this portion of your course grade.

First Day Attendance:

Since students often do not have their schedules completely fixed by the first day of class, it makes sense for instructors to exclude this day from their calculation of student attendance. Some instructors may even exclude the first two class periods if they choose. ISU policy does not allow students to add ENG 101 (in most cases) after the first week, thus excuses for non-registration are not valid after the first week.


Attendance Policy Flexibility

This basic policy should be the same for every course in the writing program. However, instructors can institute policies in other areas, which may also affect course grades. The spectrum of attendance-related policies and instructor uses should be designed to help students understand what their obligations are, and encourage them to attend regularly and turn in work in a timely manner. Instructors need to make sure that policies are reasonable and enforceable, and that a focus on attendance does not take precedence over the value of the content of class activities and assignments.

Policy areas are as follows:

Class Participation and In-Class Work: Instructors may include participation grades that are also affected by attendance. Instructors can also institute policies about credit for in-class work that are affected by absences (i.e., students can’t get credit for work on days when they miss class). In addition, instructors may assess penalties for late work on major assignments. Class Participation and In-Class Work may be weighted in various ways. However, the total value of these two categories should not exceed 20% of the student’s final grade.

Late Work Penalties: Instructors can have policies that penalize students for late work and these policies do not need to be identical across sections of the course. It is permissible to have a policy that indicates that late work is not accepted, but the language of the policy should indicate that exceptions can be made in extreme circumstances, especially if the student notifies the instructor in advance or has a documented medical emergency, for instance. If the policy states that penalties will be assessed for late work, the penalty should be clearly stated and reasonable, for example: one letter grade for each day the project is late. Remember, though, that a “day” might mean a class period to the student and a weekday to you. With that in mind, be sure to clarify such terms.

Excessive Tardiness: Instructors can also institute policies about excessive tardiness, but penalties should be assessed only for students who miss ½ of the class or more. Penalties for tardiness should not be assessed for students who are less than 10 minutes late, unless their lateness is habitual. Students who are habitually late should be warned before the instructor begins to assess absences for tardiness less than ½ a class period.

A Note On Overall Attendance Policies: An instructor’s overall policies should never be designed to fail a student who is participating in class, has a positive attitude, and is completing the majority of the course work at an above-average level. In other words, asking students to attend regularly is designed to help make sure they receive the information and practice they need to do the work well, and to make sure that they offer their expertise as writers to their fellow students. An attendance policy that routinely “catches” students who are otherwise performing well and penalizes them to the point where they are in danger of failing the course is not appropriate.

Working with Students: Instructors have some flexibility in working with students on late work/attendance issues. In other words, we expect that teachers will sometimes use their own judgment in deciding whether to allow students to do “make up” work or turn in work late. In general, only students who are in good standing at the time their attendance issues began, and who are frank and timely in bringing the matter to the instructor’s attention should be eligible as exceptions to the instructor or program policy. Students who have missed more than 20% of classes cannot be exempted from course failure unless the circumstances are truly exceptional. Writing program team members are always available to discuss these kinds of student issues with instructors.

Working with Student Athletes (and other school-sponsored activities): Student athletes will sometimes provide instructors with a letter indicating the dates they may be forced to miss class. Because we wish to treat fairly all students who are engaged in university sponsored activities, we encourage instructors to work to assist students who notify you in advance and in writing about school sponsored activities that require them to miss class. These absences can be assessed as part of the “unpenalized absences” allowed for the course, but school-sponsored absences beyond the 3-5 unpenalized absences allowed) can be negotiated so that students’ grades are not adversely affected — the instructor should use his/her discretion in negotiating make-up or additional work to replaced missed classes. It can be important when working with these students to have an explicit conversation with these students that explains that these activities are not a “free pass” to miss class. Instead, they will need to make sure they don’t have additional absences, because they’re, in effect, using up their free absences to attend these events. It is acceptable to penalize these students for additional absences that move them beyond the 2-3 allowed, but conscientious students who work with you in advance to make there they are getting the information they need (and getting the work done) should be accommodated when possible.

For a death in the immediate family: students can miss up to five consecutive days to attend to details related to their bereavement (that is not five consecutive absences in your class). They have to provide appropriate documentation and complete missed classroom work. If students must travel more than 150 miles from campus, they will be granted additional days of excused absences (1 to 2 extra days, depending on the distance). University policy supersedes what is on a course syllabus.   Here is a link to the policy:


Academic Honesty & Plagiarism

Essentially, our primary goal when faced with issues of potential academic misconduct are two-fold. Instructors must first assess the produced text to identify the type of problem they believe is occurring, and then decide what type of action is appropriate.

A document developed by the National Association of Writing Program Administrators can be useful to help in this first step:

If the instructor feels that the issue does not need to move forward for official review (because they feel that the student may be, at least in part, mis-citing rather than deliberately plagiarizing), they can handle the situation by requiring a re-write which both highlights the student’s new understanding of citation (i.e. having the student explain his/her mistakes) and then revises the project to reflect accurate citation practices. An excellent procedure in such a case is to notify the student, indicating that he/she is receiving an email because the instructor has found problems with the citation procedures in the student’s text. The student can be required to attend a face-to-face meeting. At the meeting, the student can be required to sign a document that indicates that he/she understands fully the problems the instructor has found, and is able to revise the text appropriately. In such situations, the instructor has the option of lowering the final letter grade for that project by 1 full letter grade (but no more).

If the instructor feels that the penalty for the inappropriate activity should be more severe, then he/she must go through ISU’s Community Rights and Responsibilities office (which is under the Dean of Students). Their website offers an explanation of the process and provides forms that both the instructor and student must sign. The procedure for assessing this kind of penalty varies, depending on whether the student admits he/she has plagiarized or wishes to contest the instructor’s assertion. If the student admits he/she has plagiarized, then the instructor must decide what penalty he/she will assess. Students can fail the project or fail the course. The Writing Program administration team is happy to help in situations of plagiarism–whether with general advice or meetings with the student–but please familiarize yourself with both the ISU policy on academic dishonesty and the procedures for reporting breaches of conduct to the CCR:

Please remember: If a situation of plagiarism or missed-citation may result in a failing grade (rather than a grade penalty and rewrite) for a Unit — and especially in situations where the student’s course grade is drastically affected, instructors MUST go through the CRR procedure.


ISU’s Code of Conduct / Academic Dishonesty.

Students are expected to be honest in all academic work. A student’s placement of his or her name on any academic exercise shall be regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student’s own thought, effort, and study. Violations include but are not limited to:

  1. possessing or utilizing any means of assistance (books, notes, papers, articles, etc.) in an attempt to succeed at any quiz or examination unless specifically authorized by the instructor.
  2. taking any action with intent to deceive the person in charge as to the student’s acting without honesty to complete an assignment, such as falsifying data or sources, providing false information, etc. Students are prohibited from conversation or other communication in examinations except as authorized by the instructor.
  3. appropriating without acknowledgement and authorization another’s computer program, or the results of the program (in whole or part) for a computer-related exercise or assignment.
  4. plagiarizing. For the purpose of this policy, plagiarism is the unacknowledged appropriation of another’s work, words, or ideas in any themes, outlines, papers, reports, speeches, or other academic work. Students must ascertain from the instructor in each course the appropriate means of documentation.
  5. submitting the same paper for more than one University course without the prior approval of the instructors.
  6. willfully giving or receiving unauthorized or unacknowledged assistance on any assignment. This may include the reproduction and/or dissemination of test materials. Both parties to such collusion are considered responsible.
  7. substituting for another student in any quiz or examination.
  8. being involved in the unauthorized collection, distribution advertisement, solicitation, or sale of term papers, research papers, or other academic materials completed by a third party.

NOTE: This excerpt on academic dishonesty can be found in the Student Code of Conduct: Instructors should include this excerpt in their course syllabi.


Student Behavioral Issues

Student behavioral issues are also covered in the Student Code of Conduct. There are two main categories that can become important for instructors who are dealing with student behavioral issues in the classroom. The first is under the section of the Code that deals with the university’s expectations for students:

  1. Disruption. This policy is not intended to hinder organized, peaceful and orderly protests. Violations include but are not limited to:
  2. disrupting or obstructing teaching, research, administrative, or other University functions, including its public service functions on or off campus, or other authorized non-University activities when these activities occur on University property.
  3. leading or inciting others to disrupt scheduled and/or normal non-academic activities associated with the operation of the University.
  4. creating an intentional obstruction which unreasonably interferes with freedom of movement, either pedestrian or vehicular (p.9)

The second involves the threat of bodily harm:

  1. Misconduct. Engaging in conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person, or creates in such person a reasonable fear that such a result will occur, including but not limited to:
  2. threatening to subject another person to physical harm or unwanted physical contact.
  3. engaging in any action which is unwanted and results in a reasonable fear for imminent bodily harm and/or the emotional/mental disruption of a person’s daily life or educational environment.
  4. following another person in or about a public place or places such that it creates in such person a reasonable fear for their health or safety.
  5. inflicting bodily harm or unwanted physical contact upon any person.
  6. taking any action for the purpose of inflicting harm upon any person.

Instructors can list these excerpts specifically in their syllabi or simply refer to expectations for student behavior in the classroom and then refer students to the Conduct Code.


Sample Syllabus Statement for Classroom Behavior (provided by CR&R):

Students are expected to behave in a manner consistent with being in a professional environment. Open hostility, rudeness, and incivility are discouraged and will result in appropriate action. Mechanical disruptions (cell phones, pagers, electronic toys, music players, etc.) are also strongly discouraged.

Students acting in a disruptive or uncivil manner may be dismissed from the class for the remainder of the class period. If necessary, referrals may also be made to Community Rights & Responsibilities for violations of the Code of Student Conduct.

If you feel you may have a serious behavioral issue, you should (a) document carefully your interactions with the student, referring to the specific behavior and your requirements for change; and (b) contact the Writing Program administration team immediately (even if just to give us a heads up that something may be going on). If you feel you can handle the issue on your own, that’s fine, but please do let us know so that we can be available to assist you should you need us.

A Note on Less Serious Behavioral Issues


Instructors can institute course policies dealing with more minor behavioral issues, such as inappropriate use of the internet, inattention, cell phone or mobile devices, etc. However, a student’s course grade should not be lowered as the result of misbehaviors that fall into this category unless they are egregious. For example, it’s inappropriate to fail a student, or even to give a student a zero for the day’s work unless the student has been warned and has failed to respond. However, if the student has repeatedly been asked to refrain from certain kinds of behavior and he/she becomes belligerent, abusive, or refuses to refrain, the misconduct then shifts to the more serious category. Penalizing student grades should not be the primary way that an instructor controls his/her classroom, and yet instructors sometimes do need to deal with serious issues of misconduct. Use your judgment, but let us know if a situation arises where you feel the student’s grade will potentially be affected, or if you feel that you or any of the other class members are in danger, and/or you feel the other students in the class are being hampered in their ability to learn.

Please keep in mind: You do NOT (in general) need to get permission from us for the way you deal with students in your class, although you should take care to stay within our general guidelines. We simply ask that if you encounter a situation in which potential grade penalties or even removal from the class might be an issue, you document the situation with an explanatory email to use as soon as possible. This is for your protection, and not because we feel you necessarily need our oversight. However, please feel free to call on us if you need advice about a situation, or just want to talk things over. That’s what we’re here for.


Contacting Students with Failing Grades

In keeping with university policies, we ask instructors to contact all students in their course who are receiving a failing grade during the week prior to the final drop date for the course. Instructors can use email to notify the student that they are currently on track to fail the course and explain that the drop date is approaching. In addition, instructors in may want (but are not strictly required) to notify students when their absences have begun to impact their course grade. We recognize that it can be difficult and time-consuming to offer students constant updates on their status — so the frequency of these updates should be at the instructor’s discretion. See the section on “communicating bad news to students” (section 6.1, Effective Communications) for a more detailed discussion of the rhetorical complexities of these types of communications.


Syllabus Language for Students with Disabilities and other Student issues

We’ve been asked by the university to include language in our syllabi about both Students with Disabilities and about Student Counseling Resources. Following are samples of the language that you can use in your syllabi:

Counseling Services:

Student Couseling Services at ISU provides students with a variety of support systems to manage everyday life issues. Students can receive help from trained professionals on topics such as individual and group counseling, self-help and assessment, career and life choices, sexual assulat, outreach workshops, and help for friends and family. Emergency walk-in service is also available.

Student Services, 320 309-438-3655.


Disability Services:

The Office of Disabilty Concerns at ISU provides a welcoming atmosphere for individuals with disabilities by assisting each individual with being able to function independently within the university community and providing equal access and opportunity in accomplishing educational, professional and personal goals. The Office of Disability Concerns obtains and maintains documentation of disability, certifes eligibility for services, determines reasonable accomodations, and develops plans for providing such accomondations to those in need such services. Fell Hall, 350 309-438-5853.


Student Questions and Complaints

Although we work very hard to protect and support the instructors working for the Writing Program, we do take student questions and complaints seriously. We find that complaints fall into several categories (see below). When we receive a complaint from a student, we can proceed in several ways, depending on the nature of the complaint/question. Our options include asking the student to come to meet with either the program director or assistant director, or sending an email with a more detailed description of the problem. When complaints are made, we will contact the instructor and (generally) ask him/her to clarify the issue with any necessary details. Our goal is to work with both students and instructors to resolve issues any issues that occur.

Categories of complaints/questions:

  • Grade complaints: We have a standard policy for grade complaints which asks the students to send detailed information regarding the nature of his/her complaint, along with all the relevant course materials. Once the student has done this, either the director or the assistant director will review the materials, and then contact the instructor to get his/her feedback regarding the grade. Although it is possible for a student complaint to result in a changed grade, this is a rare occurrence, and generally receives the support of the instructor for the change.
  • Complaints about clarity and/or feedback: We do receive occasional complaints about the clarity of assignments or the clarity/comprehensiveness of instructor feedback. In these situations our first goal is to help resolve the issue through mediation with both the instructor and the student.
  • Complaints about professional behavior: Complaints about professional behavior can include demeanor, abusive language in the classroom, failure to hold regular classes, among others. These complaints are (fortunately) very rare. When we receive such a complaint from a student we’ll contact the instructor immediately. Complaints of this nature can often be diffused by the instructor who has kept records of difficult or disruptive students, which is why documenting disruptive behavior (see above) can be critical.

Cancelled/Alternative Class Meetings

There are a variety of purposes for which an instructor might decide to hold an alternate class period. The following are pre-approved alternative class periods:

Library Work: This can include an official library visit in collaboration with an instructional librarian, or a work day in which the class meets at the library to complete research or to learn researching skills. In general, instructors should have no more than three (approximately) library days, and instructors should “lead” (be present) on those days. In plain language: Don’t cancel a significant number of classes to go to the library, and don’t cancel class and send students to the library without your supervision. If you wish to use the library as a tool/location for class work, that’s great (within reason).

Work Days: Instructors will occasionally wish to provide a work day for students to complete a major project or portfolio. In general, the policy for such a day is that the instructor should arrange to be available to work one-on-one with students on that day. In other words, the class should “meet” but attendance is not required. This is a bit of a grey area, as instructors should certainly not make a policy of optional attendance without a very good cause. If the instructor has had to have other absences (for illness, family issues, or attendance) then, in general, work days should not be used.

Conferences: Instructors can cancel up to two weeks of class (maximum) throughout the semester for student conferences, although we recommend only one week if you are combining conferences with other alternative days. If you have a course plan that calls for more conference days than this, you should specifically clear it with program administration.

Field Trips/Outside Days: Instructors may sometimes choose to meet in alternative locations (a different room, or to meet outside) or move the class to another location during the class. This is not really a problem unless it results in confused students who don’t know where the class is meeting. Instructors should always make sure that ALL students know about alternative meetings, and they should send a note to the WPA-notify listserv to alert the writing program that they are meeting in an alternative location. Instructors do not have to receive prior approval for alternative class meetings (as long as these are reasonable in number), but they should notify the listserv as a precautionary measure. Again, we don’t feel the need to directly supervise instructors in these situations, but in an emergency situation, we should be able to find you and your class.

Off-Campus Field Trips: Off-campus field trips or course meetings are possible, but they do need prior approval from both the department and the university. Don’t plan an off-campus class field trip without approval. You can start by notifying the Writing Program Administration (Nancy McKinney or Joyce Walker) and we’ll help you through the process of getting approval.

Conferences/Social Gatherings Off Campus: Sometimes instructors like to have a final class meeting in a different location, or meet students for conferences off campus (at the Coffee Hound, etc.). In general, this is OK… but you MUST make sure that students will not have a problem getting to the location. If you have students with mobility issues, moving the class to any distance from the original class is not a good idea, and in general, it’s best when conferencing off-campus to allow students the opportunity to indicate that they would rather meet on-campus. Instructors should not penalize students for be unable/unwilling to attend an off-campus meeting, unless it is a pre-approved field trip. In the case of conferences, the option for on-campus meeting should be given, and students can then be penalized for non-attendance, of course.

Instructor Absences/Cancelled Classes

Occasionally an instructor must be absent from or cancel a class period as the result of illness, family emergency, or professional development (conferences, job visits, etc.). This is acceptable, as long as it is reasonable. In general, (excepting serious emergency situations) an instructor should not have to cancel class more than 1-3 times a semester. The following procedures should be followed in relation to canceling classes.

Advance Absences: If you know about the absence in advance (for a conference presentation, for example) and you can design an alternative day that incorporates work for the writing project in progress, simply alert the writing program by contacting Nancy McKinney via email — Let her know the date of the cancelled class, the reason for your absence, and the activity you’ve asked students to complete.

Emergency Absences: If you are ill or have an emergency, and time is short (i.e., you only have several hours before your class meets) use the WPA-Notify list to alert the Writing Program and also contact the English Department office Staff by both phone at 438-3667. Be sure to leave details such as your name, the class (e.g., ENG 101) and the classroom number. If you have to leave a message (rather than talking to a staff member in person), please always follow up with a 2nd phone call so that you are able to talk to someone directly.

You should also email/call Nancy McKinney or Joyce Walker as soon as possible.

Please note: Contacting the office staff by phone is the only way to ensure that a physical note will be placed on your classroom door when you have an emergency cancellation of your class.  If you reach the WPA folks, we can contact the department for you, but it’s best to contact the department directly.

Emergency Absence Contact for Students: Whenever possible, students should be notified via email about a cancelled class. The Writing Program cannot do this for you, and we recognize that in some special emergency situations this may not be possible. But whenever possible, please make sure to use email to notify your students.

Substitutions (informal): Sometimes when instructors must be absent from class, they will arrange for a colleague (peer instructor) to handle the class. Simply send an email to Nancy McKinney to notify her of your plans.

Substitutions (formal): If you would like the Writing Program to help you to find a substitute for your course, you can send a request to Nancy McKinney, and she will send out a call for a volunteer. We will always attempt to find an instructor to handle your class, but it’s not always possible. Last-minute emergencies may be difficult to cover, but with advance notice we can usually find someone to help.

A Final Note on Absences, Class Trips, and Alternate Classes: The procedures we’ve designed here are intended to protect both instructors and students. In the event of an emergency, we may need to quickly discover if a class is meeting or not, or where it is meeting. And although we expect instructors will act in a professional manner to discharge their duties as graduate teaching assistants, we also need to be aware of how often instructors are absent or are holding alternative classes. Ultimately, failure to hold classes regularly can be grounds for dismissal, so helping us to keep track of what you are doing protects you.

Adding Students and Switching Sections

At the beginning of each semester, we often experience a high volume of students who want to switch sections of ENG 101 or ENG 145. Following are some rules of thumb that will help you to avoid complications and also avoid making extra work for our program advisors (who have to do all the computer switching):

If your class is full — it’s full. Do not allow students to add the course or promise them that you’ll try to add them to the course. If they want to add a section (or switch sections) they need to do this through the registration system and/or with help from their advisor.

Often students are enrolled and do not show up for class the first week, that doesn’t mean they don’t plan on attending so instructors should check their class roster to determine if their section is full.  We often get e-mails from GAs saying they have room because they have empty seats in class when, indeed, the enrollment is full.

We do NOT allow students to switch sections after the first week of class. If students approach you about adding or switching sections in the 2nd week, please refer them to Nancy McKinney (who will work with our program advisors). Don’t promise students that you’ll allow them to add.

If there is a very special situation (usually this involves a student you know well or some other special circumstance) you can speak to Nancy McKinney about adding a student in the 2nd week or allowing a student to switch into your section. But please speak to Nancy before making any promises to students.