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Policies and Procedures

Faculty Responsibilities

Guidelines for Teaching

Responsibilities of Faculty

The overall responsibility for a course rests with the faculty member in charge. This responsibility includes planning and developing the course, leading class sessions, and participating in the grading of papers, examinations, and class exercises. (Regarding exams, faculty members are expected to adhere to the final examination schedule as published by the Registrar. Any changes must be made in consultation with the Registrar's Office.) Faculty members should also hold office hours for students to discuss issues and questions relating to the course (the norm for office hours is approximately two hours per week). The ultimate teaching and assessment of the students is the responsibility of the faculty member, and thus it is critical that the faculty member be integrally involved in all aspects of the course.


Because teaching is fundamentally an active process necessitating close interaction between faculty members and students, it is assumed that faculty will need and want to gauge the progress of their students as their courses proceed. Faculty members have ultimate responsibility for the assessment of students: no matter how a faculty member chooses to approach grading, he or she has final responsibility for grades assigned and for making formal grade changes. (Cf. Faculty Rules, Version 2.1, Section 9.I.1.) Even with TAs or graders, a faculty member should share responsibility for participating in the grading and evaluation of students. There is no expectation that the faculty member will necessarily grade all students in all assignments, but if there are TAs involved in the course, the faculty should take care to at least monitor the TAs' grading to assure that standards for grading and commenting on papers and exams are uniformly applied, that the quality of grading meets the faculty member's standards, and that the faculty member can adjudicate any grade appeals from the students. There are several ways in which faculty may participate in grading. As examples, faculty may choose to grade the exams or papers in those sections of a course which they themselves teach, or, alternatively, they may choose to participate in a sufficiently large cross-section of the grading, and review a sufficient amount of the students' work, to be able to teach the course effectively and to make adjustments to the course if necessary in response to needs suggested by student work.


Under normal circumstances, if a course has two hours of lecture and one hour of section per week, the faculty member would usually assume responsibility for teaching one of the sections. Exceptions to this practice may occur in large courses with many sections or laboratories in which the faculty member often has scheduled weekly hour-long (or longer) meetings with the TAs to plan sections. If the professor puts in time equal to a section meeting in training and supervising TAs on a weekly basis, then he or she may choose to substitute this activity for teaching a section.


In addition to their teaching responsibilities, faculty have a responsibility to their teaching assistants. Close interaction with and supervision of TAs is required as part of their training as apprentice teachers; moreover, the relationship between the professor and the TA offers an excellent opportunity for mentoring. The professor as instructor and scholar has the responsibility to prepare the apprentice faculty, the TA, for a life as instructor and scholar, and every such opportunity should be fully utilized. Faculty should discuss pedagogical issues with TAs, and should also provide them with a critical assessment of their performance.


As noted above, the professor in charge of a course has final responsibility for assigning grades. TAs typically participate in the grading of exams, homework, papers, and other student work. The TA should have adequate supervision regarding standards for grading, the sorts ofcomments that would be helpful, and so on. However, the instructor should play at least a supervisory role in determining final grades, as well as grades for major milestones in the course.

Responsibilities of Undergraduate Teaching Assistants

The following guidelines concerning responsibilities of undergraduate teaching assistants appear in the Faculty Rules (pp. 95-96):


Evaluation and Grading Evaluation (and hence all grading) is the exclusive responsibility of appointed faculty members. Recommendations on evaluations and grades by undergraduate assistants may be appropriate, provided these recommendations are adequately reviewed and judged by the responsible faculty members. The faculty member should re-evaluate work appraised by undergraduate assistants if asked to do so by any student.


The class hours required for any course should not be taught by undergraduate assistants. Supplementary classes, such as voluntary discussion sections or tutorial work, may be taught by undergraduate assistants who are directly supervised by the faculty member in charge of the course. Such supervision shall usually consist of frequent meetings with the undergraduate assistants to discuss pedagogical matters and/or occasional attendance at discussions led by undergraduate assistants. The direction of laboratory sessions, field trips, and projects by undergraduate teaching assistants is permissible, provided such individuals do not bear primary responsibility for any formal instruction.

Other responsibilities

Effective teaching practices as well as Federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) require that professors provide "reasonable accommodations" for students with physical disabilities or learning disabilities. The Office of the Dean of the College, in conjunction with appropriate professionals, is responsible for certifying a student's disability and working with the faculty members to determine accommodations needed for individual students. Questions about academic accommodations for disabled students may be directed to Dean Robert Shaw.

Insofar as they occupy positions of authority and power, all individuals involved in the teaching or grading of a course must refrain from romantic or physical relationships with students.