Recommended Policies for Syllabi in the College of Health and Human Development

Instructors should include several University and Department/School policies on their syllabi, whether syllabi are printed or on-line. The intention is to be explicit about expectations concerning classroom conduct, academic integrity, and course policies. Instructors may modify or edit the guidelines in accord with the nature of the course or their teaching styles. For severe and repeated problems with student disruptive behavior see the Senate Committee on Student Life policy on managing classroom disruption: http://www.sa.psu.edu/ja/pdf/classdisrupt.pdf.

Note that all syllabi must also include the University policy on academic integrity, which is provided below. It is strongly recommended that clear information about types of violations of academic integrity and the range of sanctions possible be provided on syllabi, so that there is no confusion about what plagiarism or other violations are. Violations of academic integrity policy should be reported. Academic Integrity Forms for reporting violations are available in the department’s main office. If instructors do not submit these forms following a decision that academic dishonesty has occurred, the Department will not be aware of these violations.

Knowledge of students’ histories in this area can help us better advise them. It is critical that instructors specify on syllabi what the academic sanctions will be for particular violations of academic integrity. For instance, instructors differ on the consequence of plagiarism, with some failing students for a particular assignment and others failing students for the entire course. Letting students know what your policy is will provide a strong deterrent, so this should be done on syllabi and noted in early classes. Our goal is to discourage violations of
the policy by being very clear that the Department will not tolerate academic dishonesty.

Also, if instructors decide that the violation of academic integrity merits failure of a course, but do not complete an Academic Integrity Form, the student can drop the course. If the Academic Dishonesty Form has been filed, the Registrar’s Office will not allow a student to drop a course in which the student has been accused of a violation of academic integrity. It is essentially impossible to reinstate a student in a course to provide a failing grade if the course has been officially dropped. Syllabi must include an explicit statement of your attendance policy. There are many ways to encourage students to attend classes, and it is up to individual instructors to design a system that is consistent with their teaching philosophy. It could be argued, however, that by not making attendance mandatory that we are communicating that attendance is optional.

Other policies need to be explicit as well. The instructor’s permission to hand in an assignment late or to take an exam at a different time than scheduled is required. There should be a clear policy for make-up exams for students who have been excused from scheduled times. It would also be useful to include on syllabi the Educator’s Code of Ethics, which appears below, so that students understand that ethical issues extend to instructors as well as to students.
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Attendance Policy

All syllabi must have an explicit statement of instructors’ attendance policies. The consequences of not attending classes must be clear to students. Instructors have different philosophies about attendance and the department does not have a specific policy, but it would be best to communicate the view that students are expected to attend every class unless they have an approved absence. Instructors can have an incentive system for attending (e.g., a certain percentage of the grade is devoted to attendance) or a disincentive system for not attending (e.g., pop quizzes). In addition to class attendance policies, it is important to be explicit about policies about making up quizzes and exams and turning in assignments (e.g., assignments cannot be sent via email).

Educator’s Code of Conduct

A useful set of ethical guidelines for teaching (“Statement on Teaching Ethics”) was developed by The Graduate School and later modified by the College of Medicine/The Hershey Medical Center. The Graduate School version can be found at http://www.gradsch.psu.edu/reseasrch/ethics.html#teaching. For the complete Hershey modification, which is partially reproduced below, go to http://www.hmc.psu.edu/college and search for “educator’s code of conduct.” I would ask that you consider adding this important material to your syllabi to communicate to students that the educational process has responsibilities for instructors as well as students. The inclusion of the material would covey a commitment to an education that involves mutual respect and ethical responsibility. It also provides students a general framework for registering concerns about instruction. The version suitable for syllabi is at the end of this document.

HDFS Policy on Student Responsibilities and Classroom Conduct

The following material can be copied directly onto syllabi and/or put on ANGEL with any modifications you would like to make. (NOTE: This policy was adopted by HDFS faculty, but it could be used by any instructor.)

  1. Students are responsible for attending all classes, taking notes, and obtaining other materials provided by the instructor, taking tests, and completing assignments as scheduled by the instructor.
    1. Requests for taking exams or submitting assignments after the due dates require documentation of events such as illness, family emergency or a university sanctioned activity.
    2. Conflicts with dates on which examinations or assignments are scheduled must be discussed with the instructor or TA prior to the date of the exam or assignment.
  2. Students are responsible for keeping track of changes in the course syllabus made by the instructor throughout the semester.
  3. Students are responsible for monitoring their grades.
  4. Students must contact the instructor as soon as possible if they anticipate missing multiple classes due to events such as chronic illnesses, travel related to team sports, or other university activities. The instructor will determine the minimal attendance and participation required in order to meet course responsibilities.
  5. If extra credit assignments are offered, they must be offered to all students and should not be used to boost the grade of an individual student.
  6. Behaviors that disrupt other students’ learning are not acceptable (e.g., arriving consistently late for class; cell phone use, reading non-course related materials, or social conversation during class), and will be addressed by the instructor.

University Statement of Academic Integrity (Policy 49-20)

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Violations of Academic Integrity Policy

Violations of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy include the following:

Cheating: using crib sheets of any kind, preprogrammed calculators or cell phones, use of notes during a closed book exam

Copying on tests: looking at other students’ exams, copying with a plan with another student, passing notes during exams; exchanging exams with another student

Plagiarism: fabricating information or citations; copying from the Internet of submitting the work of others from journals, articles and papers, or books; submitting other students’ papers as one’s own. Any material, regardless of length, that is the work of somebody else and who is not given explicit credit by
citation, submitted as one’s own, is plagiarized material.

Tampering with work: changing one’s own or another student’s work; tampering with work either as a prank or to sabotage another’s work

Acts of aiding and abetting: Facilitating academically dishonest work by others; unauthorized collaboration on work; permitting another to copy from one’s exam; writing a paper for another; inappropriately collaborating on home assignments or exams without permission or when prohibited

Unauthorized possession: Buying or stealing of exams or other materials; failing to return exams on file or reviewed in class; selling exams; photocopying exams; any possession of an exam without the instructor’s permission

Submitting previous work: Submitting a paper, case study, lab report, or any assignment that had been submitted for credit in a prior class without the knowledge and permission of the instructor

Ghosting or misrepresenting: Taking a quiz or exam or performing a class assignment in place of another student; having another student do the same in one’s place; signing in as present in class for another student or having another student do the same in one’s place

Altering exams: Changing incorrect answers and seeking favorable grade changes when instructor returns graded exams for in-class review and then collects them; asserting that the instructor make a mistake in grade. Other forms include changing the letter and/or numerical grade on a test.

Computer theft: Electronic theft of computer programs or other software, data, images, art, or text belonging to another.

NOTE: The information below is specific to HDFS and describes the precise procedures for violations of academic integrity. It should be modified for individual departments.

If a student is considered as having violated the academic integrity policy, the instructor will inform the student and will meet with the student to discuss the allegation. The Undergraduate Professor-in-Charge is available to attend this meeting at the request of the instructor. At the end of the meeting, the instructor
decides whether or not a violation has occurred. In the event of an instructor deciding that a violation has occurred, an Academic Integrity Form will be completed and signed by the instructor. The student can acknowledge the violation or contest it; in either case, the student also signs the Academic Integrity Form.

A copy of the document will be given to the College, and the University’s Office of Student Conduct. If the student contests the sanction, further hearings will be held with the student to resolve the matter. If an instructor recommends that a student be given a failing grade in a course, the student cannot drop the course. The instructor informs the Registrar’s Office that a failing grade has been recommended for the student. If the student does drop the course before a final decision is made about sanctions, the failing grade will be reinstated by the Registrar’s Office.

University policy allows considerable flexibility to instructors in the determination of sanctions for violations of academic dishonesty. There are two types of sanctions an instructor can recommend— academic and disciplinary. Academic sanctions range from a warning or reduced grade on a single assignment to the student’s removal from his/her academic program following guidelines from the College’s Academic Integrity Committee. Disciplinary sanctions, although recommended by the instructor or the College, are assigned only at the University level, by the Office of Student Conduct.

Disciplinary sanctions can range from disciplinary warning to permanent expulsion. The student may also be assigned the XF grade, which is reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity. There are different sanctioning guidelines for minor, moderate, or major offenses of academic integrity. Detailed information about procedures and sanctions can be found under Academic Integrity at the website of the Office of Student Conduct: http://www.sa.psu.edu/ja/conduct.shtml

Educator’s Code of Conduct: Four Norms to Govern Teaching

Honesty

Honesty and integrity must be practiced during all aspects of the education process.

Promise-Keeping

Promise keeping requires the educator to fulfill the “promises” made at the beginning of the semester or any other learning activity. Syllabi, assignments, grading principles, and class and office hour schedules each involve promises that are made to students and that must be adhered to under normal circumstances.

Respect for Persons

The educator must approach the learner with personal respect. In addition, the educator ought to encourage mutual respect among students. In particular, respect for race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, age, marital status, cultural differences, and political conviction should be supported and encouraged in all aspects of the educational process. Additionally, educators ought to show respect and common courtesy for students both during interpersonal interactions and in responding promptly to students’ need for guidance and feedback. An environment free from harassment and discrimination, verbal abuse, physical violence, and intimidation in any form must also be provided for all learning activities.

Fairness

Recognizing the inherent subjectively involved in grading, an educator ought to ensure that their grading practices are as objective as possible by creating and adhering to unambiguous criteria.

Principles of Ethical College and University Teaching

Content Competence: An educator maintains a high level of subject matter knowledge and ensures that the content of the educational experience is current, accurate, representative, and appropriate to the position of the learning
experience within the students’ program of study. The educator must be capable of approaching each learner with a commitment to meeting his or her educational needs.

Pedagogical Competence: A pedagogically competent educator communicates the objectives of the educational experience to students, is aware of alternative instructional methods or strategies, and selects methods of instruction that
are effective in helping students to achieve the course objectives.

Dealing with Sensitive Topics: Topics that students are likely to find sensitive or discomforting are dealt with in an open, honest, and positive way.
Student Development: The overriding responsibility of the educator is to contribute to the intellectual development of the student, at least in the context of the educator’s own area of expertise, and to avoid actions such as
exploitation and discrimination that detract from student development.

Dual Relationship with Students: To avoid conflict of interest, an educator does not enter into dual-role relationships with students that are likely to detract from student development or lead to actual or perceived favoritism on the part of the educator. The establishment of a romantic/sexual relationship between an educator and a student should be reported to the immediate supervisor of the educator. Such relationships should be dealt with consistent with Penn State Policy on Sexual Harassment (AD41): http://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD41.html.

Student Confidentiality: Student grades, letters of evaluation, attendance records, and private communications are treated as confidential materials and are released only with student consent, for legitimate academic purposes, or if
there are reasonable grounds for believing that releasing such information will be beneficial to the student or will prevent harm to the student or to others.

Respect for Colleagues: An educator respects the dignity of his or her colleagues and works cooperatively with colleagues in the interest of fostering student development.

Valid Assessment of Students: An educator is responsible for taking adequate steps to ensure that the assessment of a student’s performance is valid, open, fair, and congruent with the course/educational experience objectives. An educator must be aware that such assessments are important in students’ lives and in the development of their careers.

Respect for Institution and Profession: In the interest of student development, an educator is aware of and respects the educational goals, policies, and standards of the institution in which he or she teaches and the profession which he or she represents.

Citing Sources of Educational Material: An educator acknowledges and documents, as appropriate, the sources of information and other materials
used for teaching.

Violations of the Educator’s Code of Conduct: Should a learner experience conduct that is inconsistent with the Educator’s Code of Conduct, he/she is encouraged to first address the issue with either the educator responsible for the inconsistency or the director of the course in which the educator teaches. Should this attempt to resolve the problem fail, or if the nature of the inconsistency is such that the learner does not feel comfortable addressing the issue with either the educator or the course director, the student may consult other individuals. These individuals may include but are not limited to: the student’s academic advisor, faculty advisor, director/professor-in-charge of the undergraduate program, and the department head. The decision of who to contact may be dependent on the educational program of the learner and/or type of violation that was encountered. Students should go to the department’s website to locate appropriate individuals but are encouraged to begin with their instructors and their instructors’ supervisors if the instructor is a graduate student.