1.1 Conduct of Courses
Please consult the Course Catalog for the complete Academic Policies and Procedures presented to the students.
Effective teaching in the classroom, the laboratory or studio, and the office is the first duty of faculty members and is the chief criterion for reappointment, promotion and salary adjustment.
(See section 2.4.2, Criteria for Evaluation.) "Effectiveness" is difficult to define, but includes the generally accepted standards of scholarly competence, thoroughness of preparation, ability to gain the interest and respect of students, and willingness to listen to students and to encourage their individual development. In general, courses must be conducted with appropriate respect for colleagues and students of differing views. Students are guaranteed the appropriate forms of academic freedom, so that they may make their views known, confident that these will be judged by their instructors with regard only to their academic merit.
Amended March 2013, edit July 2015, edit Jan. 2019
So that students may plan their work for each semester, instructors should provide at an early class meeting a syllabus clearly stating the goals of the course and its requirements. The syllabus should specify the attendance policy of the instructor, and the number and anticipated due dates of major tests, papers and other significant assignments. (See section 1.1.7.)
The instructor should explain how final grades will be determined, specifying the relative value of performance on the final examination, papers, tests, etc. The instructor should also explain to what degree the final grade will be influenced by participation in class discussion, class attendance, and the like. The instructor should include the policy on late work (See section 1.1.12.), a policy on academic honesty and a statement on accommodations for students with disabilities. In making assignments, instructors will have in mind the accessibility of materials or equipment.
Amended 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013, Oct. 2015, 2018
The College requires all faculty members to conduct student-rated course evaluations in every course they teach.
The College Form
Course evaluations will consist of several standard questions. Responses to the questions will be tabulated and included in the dossier of the faculty member's next review. Those charged with conducting summative reviews of faculty members will see the responses to the College Form. Summaries will also be made available to mentoring committee members, in the case of first and second year faculty, and to department chairs, in the case of visiting faculty.
The College Form will also include an open-ended comment box where students can share constructive feedback with instructors. Responses in the comment box will not be included in the dossier of the faculty member’s next review but instead will be made available only to the respective faculty member, as is the case with supplemental questions designed by the faculty member, departments, or programs.
The College Form will be administered electronically via an online course evaluation system, outside of class, that will be accessible to students during the last week of classes up to the first day of exams. Students will respond to questions by choosing from a scale of five responses the one that best represents their opinion. The Provost will produce an electronic report that displays the range and frequency of the responses. The report will be added to the dossier for the faculty member's next review. The faculty member will have access to the report shortly after final grades are due. Faculty members will be able to access the individual forms filled out by students, except courses with enrollments of five students or fewer, in which faculty members will have access only to the histogram of the scaled responses and a compendium of the narrative responses. The College will postpone for a reasonable period of time students’ access to grade reports for classes for which those students did not complete the College Form.
Any changes to the College Form itself must be approved by a majority vote of the faculty.
For purposes of assembling a faculty review dossier, the College will not include as part of any individual faculty member’s course evaluation report an average number for the responses to individual questions or an average of the averages. This legislation strictly forbids officially assigning a single number to characterize the evaluation of a course or faculty member.
Supplemental Course Evaluations
In order to provide formative information on teaching, faculty members are strongly urged to administer discursive or narrative course evaluations in addition to the College Form. Departments and programs might well want to develop and administer their own systems of discursive course evaluation. Such course evaluations will not become part of the official review dossier used by department chairs, the Provost and Tenure and Promotion Committee. However, individual faculty members have the right to collect the results of supplemental course evaluations and place them on reserve in the library to be read by colleagues preparing letters for the faculty member's review. In addition, new faculty members may share the results with the members of their mentoring committee.
Reviewers' Access to Course Evaluations
At the time a faculty member is under review, the Provost will produce the report containing the results from the faculty member's course evaluations covering the period of the review. The report will be included in the dossiers compiled for the Tenure and Promotion Committee, and will be sent to the department chair to be placed on reserve in the department. Departmental colleagues and others asked to write a letter of evaluation for the member will have access to these course evaluation summaries.
Amended Nov. 2016, Feb. 2019
Faculty members are responsible for announcing their attendance policy at the first meeting of the course or including such a statement in the course syllabus. Students are subject to attendance regulations as determined by the instructor of each course. Excessive absence is a valid reason for an instructor to expel a student from a course. Students receiving financial assistance from the Veterans Administration are required by law to attend all classes unless excused. Students are expected to attend all lectures, laboratories, and other scheduled course meetings. Faculty members are expected to monitor the regular attendance of first-year students and those on conditional enrollment. Absence from a class meeting is inevitably a loss both to the student and to classmates. Students who are absent from a class meeting bear full responsibility for minimizing such loss.
It is especially important for students to attend classes in a regular manner for the first two weeks of each course; during this period instructors must develop accurate class rosters in order to allow additional interested students into their courses. Students who do not attend classes during the first two weeks may be expelled by the instructor (see Expulsion). Instructors will define "regular attendance" to suit their individual circumstances, and faculty have the right to remove students from the class roster who have excessive absences in the first two weeks. Students who have been so removed from a course roster will still need to drop the course from their schedule as they add another in its place at the registrar's office.
Absences. Policies and practices with regard to class absences are generally defined, communicated to students, and enforced by individual course instructors. Instructors will receive notification of student absence due to the following reasons: 1) curricular or extracurricular activities sanctioned in advance by the College, 2) infirmity as determined by the College Health and Counseling Center, 3) compelling and unavoidable personal circumstances as determined by the Dean of Student Development or the Dean for Academic Advising or 4) chronic illness or other disability as determined by the Director of Student Accessibility and Support Services that may occasionally impact a student’s ability to attend class. In these cases, students may not be penalized for the absence, but they should be held responsible for all course assignments. The rescheduling of examinations or assigned work must be initiated by the student. Students with a suspected concussion should refer to the Concussion Policy.
Absence due to illness. Absences for reasons of illness are not ordinarily excused: only when a student is declared by the College physician to be infirm (in a hospital or at home) will a health report be sent from the Health and Counseling Center to the Dean of Student Development, giving the days when each patient is judged infirm and recommending that the student's class absences be excused. When released from confinement, the student is expected to resume regular required attendances unless otherwise advised.
Although students may not be penalized for being absent from a class that has been excused, they are held responsible for all course assignments. The rescheduling of examinations or assigned work must be initiated by the student and arranged by the instructor.
Instructors may grant other excuses for absence according to their own judgment. Ordinary ambulatory illnesses such as colds are subject to the mutual understanding of individual students and instructors.
Excused absences for religious observances. As part of Kenyon College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the College will support students who observe religious and faith holidays. At the start of each semester, students should notify faculty members of any scheduled class meetings, assignments, or examinations that may conflict with their religious observances. Students will not be penalized for observing the holiday(s), but they are responsible for making up any missed work and for making the necessary arrangements to do so with their faculty. Coaches and athletes are expected to make similar arrangements concerning religious observances as they relate to athletic contests and practices.
Though students may not be penalized for individual excused absences, minimal standards of attendance are usually necessary for students to achieve a class's essential learning outcomes. Unless the instructor provides their own policy on the maximum number of allowed absences in the course, the following policy applies: in order to meet the minimal academic standards of a class, a student may not miss more than 25% of class meetings, through any combination of excused and unexcused absences.
Depending on the number of excused and unexcused absences in a given case, the instructor should either initiate the procedure for expelling the student from the course, or instruct the student to petition for a withdrawal for illness or incapacity (WI.) A student who has reached the maximum number of absences may also choose to use a WL, if it remains available, to withdraw from the course.
Instructors who wish to set their own thresholds for course attendance (other than 25%) should state their policy on total permitted absences in their syllabi. When determining the maximum number of absences, instructors will consider at what point absences prevent a student from meeting the course requirements and achieving the essential learning goals of the class. Instructors therefore may allow different rates of absence (somewhat less or more than 25%) before a student is considered unable to achieve the class’s essential learning goals.
The cap on total absences can be waived only with the approval of the instructor, the Dean of Academic Advising and Support, and the Dean of Student Development.
All classes and laboratory sessions are scheduled both in hours and rooms by the Registrar. Instructors wishing to arrange special times or places must receive the approval of the Registrar. Once the schedules of class meetings have been announced, no change in time may be made without the approval of the Registrar. Even though the students in the class may agree to a change, as from a morning to an evening hour, the instructor must not make a change without the Registrar's approval.
Faculty are expected to meet their scheduled classes, and to inform the students and the department chair, if illness or other cause makes it impossible to meet a class.
No classes may be scheduled between 4 and 7 p.m.; these hours are reserved for sports and extracurricular activities.
It is important that instructors and students respect the class schedule, and particularly on days before and after vacation(s), when an instructor's failure to schedule a class may affect attendance in others' classes.
The President may alter the usual schedule of classes on special occasions and on certain special days, such as Founders' Day and Honors Day.
Although faculty members may request particular classrooms, the responsibility for assigning courses to meeting rooms is the Registrar's. Each assignment lasts only for the duration of the semester.
Instructors have the right to require examinations and quizzes during the course of the year that are most appropriate for the course and in accordance with the description distributed in the first week.
However, the faculty has adopted some restrictions of this freedom, described below.
Amended April 2016
The College provides grace periods during the year to ensure that 1) students have adequate time, free from extraordinary pressures, to prepare for final examinations, 2) students have winter and spring breaks free from substantial assignments, and 3) the routine work in classes during the final week of the semester is not disrupted. During grace periods, instructors may not offer final examinations. Also, instructors should not require assignments beyond what is necessary for normal daily participation in classes, seminars and laboratories during grace periods. Instructors may only schedule more ambitious assignments during grace periods if there is a pedagogical rationale for doing so, and they must inform the class of these assignments at the beginning of the semester. The grace periods are seven calendar days before the beginning of the final examination period in each semester and two days following winter and spring vacations.
Amended March 1997, June 2008, April 2016
The College provides reading periods at the end of each semester prior to final examinations. The dates of the reading periods are part of the official College calendar established by the Calendar Committee and supervised by the Registrar. The purpose of reading periods is to provide time for preparation for final examinations. Instructors may not hold required meetings of classes, give tests, assign work, or schedule alternative final examination times during these periods. An exception is made in the case of honors examinations, which may be scheduled during reading periods.
Amended March 1997, edit July 2015, amended April 2016
Final examinations in semester courses are typically two or three hours in length. Examinations may be three hours in length if the instructor has specified such at the beginning of the semester. Final examinations in year-long courses are given in the spring and are three hours in length.
Instructors may not accept for credit work submitted after the last day of the semester unless the student has been granted permission by the dean for academic advising and support for an incomplete. The last day of the semester is specified on the College calendar.
Scheduling of final examinations. When an instructor examines all members of a class simultaneously, he or she must do so at the time and place announced by the Registrar, except by permission of an associate provost. If an instructor wishes to cancel the original time of the examination and substitute another time, even if the entire class agrees, the permission of an associate provost must be obtained.
Instructors may schedule an alternative final examination time for the entire class as long as it falls within the final examination period, excluding reading periods. In such cases, the instructor must give the examination twice, at the time originally scheduled and at another time. Instructors who wish to schedule alternative final examinations are encouraged to indicate this on the course syllabus. If an instructor chooses to allow one student to take the examination at a different time, the entire class should have that option, even if the rescheduling occurs late in the semester.
Rescheduling examinations for health or personal issues. The dean for academic advising and support, in consultation with the course instructor, may reschedule examinations for individual students in instances involving the health of students, personal or family crises, or other extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis. However, the examination schedule is published well in advance so that students may plan accordingly. Therefore, problems arising because students plan travel without accounting for the examination schedule are not sufficient grounds for setting special examinations. If the dean for academic advising and support, in consultation with the course instructor, gives a student permission to take an examination at an irregular time in accordance with established guidelines, there is no obligation on the part of the instructor to offer the option to the entire class.
Failure to appear for a final examination. When a student fails to appear for a final examination, the instructor may prepare and administer a special examination. In such cases the instructor is obliged to exact a grade penalty on the examination, unless the absence is excused by a dean for extenuating circumstances.
Take-home final examinations. When an instructor requires a "take-home" examination, it must be due at the scheduled time of examination set by the Registrar’s Office. Instructors who wish to reschedule the due date for a take-home examination must follow the procedures described above under “Scheduling of final examinations.” As is the case for other examinations, instructors may offer alternative due dates in addition to the time scheduled by the Registrar’s Office. Take-home examinations may not be due during grace periods or on reading days.
Other assignments during examination week. Instructors may assign work other than examinations and take-home examinations (such as papers, projects, or presentations) during examination week, but these assignments must be due at the scheduled time of examination set by the Registrar’s Office. In instances where the scheduled three-hour time slot is not sufficient to accommodate a final assignment (such as presentations, performances, and individual oral exams and critiques), instructors may schedule additional times without obtaining permission of the associate provost so long as they avoid creating conflicts with the regularly scheduled exams of students in the class. As is the case for examinations, instructors may offer alternative dues dates in addition to the time scheduled by the Registrar’s Office. As is the case with all other paper and project assignments, instructors may also grant extensions to individual students where appropriate and fair.
Multiple exams or assignments on the same day. Students who are scheduled for three or more examinations on the same examination day (or two examinations at the same time) are entitled to relief. Students who have three or more total assignments (exams and/or other assignments) on an exam day may be entitled to relief. In both cases, students should first notify their instructors at least two weeks in advance of the conflict to make arrangements. For additional assistance, they should contact an Associate Provost.
Professors grade all students who are enrolled for credit in their courses and report grades to the Registrar. The grading code is alphabetic, with grades A, B, C, D, and F, and includes the use of plus and minus signs. For purposes of calculating grade averages, "A" equals 4.0 quality points. Plus or minus add or subtract .33 quality points, except that A+ still equals 4.0 quality points.
The faculty does not feel it appropriate to specify a set distribution of grades in a course. Courses may vary in composition: a survey may mix students of varying interest and ability, whereas a senior seminar may have a majority of students capable of honors-level work. Norms may, in fact, discriminate against a very talented class. On the other hand, there may well be classes where no "A's" are given. New faculty especially are urged to consult with their chairs about grading practices within the department and the College.
The Registrar makes all official statements to students about their final grades and their status. It is the official policy of the College that professors not inform students of their final grades in their own or others' courses.
It is important that grades be reported on the forms provided by the Registrar and by the deadlines provided. The work of the Registrar, other administrators, and the Committee on Academic Standards of the faculty depends upon the timely recording of grades for all students.
Tentative grades are submitted at the end of the first semester for students in year courses. These serve as indications of students' performance in a course but are not part of their permanent records. However, under unusual circumstances, such as when a student leaves the College during the second semester, the tentative grade submitted for the first half of a course will be made a final grade and part of the permanent record. Instructors may require additional work such as a final examination. The Committee on Academic Standards does consider tentative grades during its mid-year evaluation of students in academic difficulty. Professors should therefore treat tentative grades as if they were permanent.
Fairness to other students demands that an instructor exact a penalty, ordinarily a lower grade, from any student who is late with a paper or other assigned work. Instructors should announce their policies regarding late work in the syllabus distributed at the beginning of the course.
College policy requires that instructors not accept for credit work submitted after the official end of the semester, unless the student has been granted permission by the Dean of Academic Advising in writing, most commonly by means of an “Incomplete” form. The time of the official end of the semester is specified in the College calendar.
Edited July 2015
Instructors submit progress reports throughout each semester for students with excessive absences, delinquent work, and/or academic deficiencies. An academic deficiency is defined as a level of performance at C- or below. At the end of each semester, instructors are required to comment in cases of academic deficiency. Progress reports are also submitted at mid-term and the end of the semester for students on Conditional Enrollment to provide regular feedback on academic progress, even when academic performance is not deficient. Improvement and exceptional work by any student can also be reported.
Progress reports are sent to the student's advisor, the dean for academic advising, and additional sources of support. The advisor and/or dean for academic advising use these reports to counsel the student. Progress reports are reviewed by the Committee on Academic Standards and considered in its deliberations at the end of each semester.
Amended Feb. 1998, March 2013
In order to encourage students to experiment with disciplines and courses which they might not otherwise try, the College provides the opportunity to enroll in courses outside the declared major on a Pass/D/Fail basis, with the permission of the advisor and the instructor. A maximum of three units toward the sixteen required for graduation may be earned as a Pass.
Professors assign a normal final grade, and the Registrar converts the letter grade to P/D/F, as appropriate. All grades of C minus or higher are recorded as P.
Students may enroll in a course on the basis of auditing only. Audit is reported if the students are properly enrolled and have met the requirements set by the professor. Ordinarily, auditors attend class meetings regularly but do not write papers and take examinations. However, requirements for auditors are set at the discretion of individual instructors.
With the advisor's approval, students doing passing work are allowed to withdraw from the second half of any year course at the end of the first semester with a WP. A student not doing passing work is allowed to withdraw from any year course at the end of the first semester with an F for that semester.
Instructors may expel a student from a course at any time provided that, a reasonable time beforehand, they have given the student written warning and have, by copy of the written warning, informed the Dean of Student Development, the Registrar, the Dean for Academic Advising and Support, and an Associate Provost. Valid causes include excessive absences and disturbances in class. If a student is expelled from a course, "X" is recorded on the permanent record, and it is considered as an "F" in calculating credit and grade averages.
An incomplete is a postponement of the deadline for completion of a course. It is available only in cases of extreme hardship. Ordinarily, students must request incompletes from the Dean for Academic Advising, who may grant the request, often after consultation with the instructor. Ordinarily, incompletes are justified in the cases of serious illness or personal crisis. Faculty members do not grant incompletes.
The student granted the incomplete must complete the work of the course by the date specified by the granting dean. Only the Dean for Academic Advising may grant extensions. The instructor is required to submit a final course grade within 7 days of the student's deadline for submitting the completed work. If the student fails to submit the completed work by the deadline, the instructor so notifies the Registrar, and the incomplete is converted to the default course grade. When the student completes the work for the course by the deadline and the instructor subsequently submits the final course grade to the Registrar, the incomplete is changed to the appropriate course grade.
Edited July 2017
If, after an instructor reports a final grade, an error in calculation or reporting is discovered, the instructor may ask the Associate Provost for permission to change the grade. Such changes must be requested before the end of the fourth week of the following semester. Changes after the fourth week can be made only through a petition to the Committee on Academic Standards.
Students who believe their grade in a course has been unfairly assigned, after a written appeal to the instructor has failed, may carry that appeal to the chair of the instructor's department and, if the disagreement is not then resolved, to the Associate Provost, who will present it to the Committee on Academic Standards. If a majority of the committee agrees that the students' petition is just, the Associate Provost will direct the instructor or the Registrar to change the grade.
Occasionally, students may encounter situations in which a policy in a course is apparently in conflict with the academic policies of the college. In some of these circumstances, students may be permitted relief from the course policy. For advice about these situations, students should consult their faculty advisors and/or the Dean of Academic Advising. When students believe that a course policy is not in compliance with the academic policies of the college, they should discuss the matter with the instructor first, then the chair of the department or program that lists the course, and finally a member of the administration (an Associate Provost or the Provost).
Because Kenyon is a small institution with a tuition benefit, there may be occasions when an instructor has a close relative, spouse, or domestic partner in his or her course. Such instances can create the perception of unfairness. Thus, departments and instructors are encouraged to avoid them by strategically planning course schedules and teaching assignments as well as by encouraging students to take alternative courses or alternative sections when possible. When a close relative, spouse, or domestic partner does take an instructor's class, the instructor and department chair must consult with the Provost within the first two weeks of class to develop a written plan to be sure the situation is handled fairly. The plan should address the following issues: who grades the student’s assignments, who assigns the student’s final grade, and what records should be kept.