Instructional Faculty Handbook policies

The Faculty Handbook contains the policies of Virginia Tech that relate to employees, including faculty and GTA. One of the chapters (number 9) is specific to instructional-related policies. Below are some relevant points for GTA from Chapter 9 of the faculty handbook. Note that this is paraphrase of excerpts with some direct quotes from the FH for clarity and simplicity.  Please see the original, full Faculty Handbook for complete information on any topic.

Textbooks or other instructional materials

Instructional material should be place at the University Bookstore for sale to students. Faculty members should not engage in direct sale of instructional materials to students. Some faculty have written textbooks or created other instructional material.  In order to have these items be required for purchase in their class, it either must be sold for the direct cost of the production of the material or for royalty or profit by the faculty member only if the material that has received an independent external review, has been copyrighted, and a portion of the copyright is owned by a publisher other than the author.

Grading

The instructor of record has sole responsibility for assigning final course grades and may not delegate the task to other colleagues or teaching assistants. Instructors are expected to adhere to principles of professionalism, fairness, and clear communication when assigning grades. This includes consistent treatment of all students in the class; clear criteria— communicated directly to the class—about the basis on which course work is evaluated and grades are assigned; timely return of graded work to the student; sufficient feedback through the grading process for the student to improve performance on future assignments; and attention to fair and reasonable measures of course content and student performance. Students have the right to see their grades for a course and to lodge a grade appeal if they believe a grade was assigned unfairly.

The posting of grades using even a portion of the student identification number, is considered a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Faculty may not post any grades as a class listing using any portion of the student identification number, either via paper or electronically.

Syllabus and Performance Expectations

Each semester on the first day of classes, faculty are expected to provide students with a course syllabus that includes course objectives, topical outlines, expected performance for which grades will be assigned, and the instructor’s attendance policy, if any. The syllabus should also include a statement on the honor system and its application to the course, reference to accommodations for students with disabilities, and information regarding office hours and how the instructor can be reached directly or through the departmental office during normal working hours. An explicit statement concerning prerequisites for the course must be included on the course syllabus or assignment sheet. The instructor should call attention to the prerequisites during the first week of classes.

The syllabus is a very important document because it provides explicit information to the student about course content, schedule, grading scale, and expectations of the instructor. The instructor should design the syllabus as a useful means for setting the tone of the course. Substantial changes in the syllabus constitute modifications in the structure or content of the course, which should be communicated clearly and in writing to students in a revised syllabus. These might include changes in the grading scale, significant departures from the schedule, or modifications of assignments. All written work, with the exceptions noted below, should be given at such time that it may be graded and then returned during a regularly scheduled class meeting. To the extent feasible, instructors should not schedule major assignments or tests for the last three calendar days of scheduled classes or reading day. Students should be allowed time to prepare for their final exams and benefit from feedback on material relevant to exams.

Class Attendance

Both faculty and students are expected to meet at all regularly scheduled times, except for cancellations announced on a university-wide basis by appropriate authority. If a faculty member cannot meet a class, it is his or her responsibility to follow departmental  procedures so that appropriate measures are taken to provide for the missed class. When students cannot attend a class, it is their responsibility to make arrangements for any work missed as soon as possible. In cases of prolonged absences, students may ask their  academic deans or the Dean of Students to notify their instructors of the reason for their absence. Staff members from the Office of the Dean of Students may verify absences from class for students who have documentation to support an absence beyond their control. The staff members send an absence verification notice to the college dean, who then forwards the verification to faculty members. A staff member from the Office of the Dean of Students reinforces with the student that he or she is responsible for contacting the faculty member to arrange make-up of any missed work.

Final Examinations

Instructors must adopt an appropriate means for evaluating and measuring student performance relative to the course objectives. A final examination schedule is displayed on Hokie SPA and Faculty Access in the timetable of classes for each academic term and final exams, if used, must follow this schedule unless the dean of the college has granted special permission. The method of evaluation must be made known to students in the course syllabus at the beginning of the term. A student with conflicting examinations or with more than two examinations within 24 hours may reschedule an examination with permission of the student’s college dean at least 10 days before the beginning of the examination period and by arrangement with the appropriate instructor. [Students may come to you to request rescheduling of the final exam.  If you agree, complete the form the student provides with the date and time for the rescheduled exam.  The student will submit the completed form to their college academic dean’s office]

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