Instructors are generally expected to keep at least three office hours a week but check with your department for guidance. Students should be advised of your office hours, and, obviously, you should be in your office during those hours. Best practices call for keeping your office door open when you are meeting with students. Please include your office hours on your syllabus. Always notify the office staff if you change your office hours so that they can inform your students if the need should arise. You should also notify your students.
Add/Drop and Census Date
The university has an official Add/Drop period that generally lasts through the first week of classes. Students may add or drop classes during that time as long as there is space available in the sections they plan to add.
After the add/drop period, students may drop without penalty until Census Date, which is generally during the third week of classes. Please think carefully before allowing students to add after Census Date.
Grades are A, B, C, D, F, I, P, R, Q, P, Z. Please make sure the grades you assign for course work during the semester reflect department and college grading philosophy. For example, if you use number grades, make it clear that any number grade less than 70 is considered a failing grade. If you use letter grades, you might consider using A, B, C, or F grades only. When you are making decisions about grading practices in your course, think through what you want to communicate to students with the grades you assign. For assistance in posting grades, see this guide in Office of Records and Registration.
Students have the right to appeal their grades if they feel that they have earned a higher grade than an instructor assigned. They should begin by talking to the instructor, asking for an explicit justification of the grade. If they fail to reach a satisfactory result, they should take their grievance to the Department Chair. If the instructor, student, and the Director fail to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, the Director will direct the student to the next step in the grievance procedure. For student complaints or academic grievances, please direct students to the Dean of Students’s process for filing a complaint.
Instructors are required to submit three grade reports each semester through MyMav: one early in the semester (for all students with fewer than 30 credit hours), one at midterm, and one at the end of the semester. By the first reporting period (4th week grades), be sure you have evaluated enough work that you can communicate an accurate picture of the student’s progress or the danger of failing the course. Instructors are not allowed to enter an I grade for the first or second grade reports. It is imperative that grades be submitted by the deadlines. The Provost has stated that instructors jeopardize merit pay if they fail to submit grades on time.
A grade of Incomplete is appropriate only when students have been making satisfactory progress (a grade of “C” or better) and experience difficulties that could not have been anticipated or prevented such as an extended illness, documented family emergency, etc. Instructors who give students Incompletes are obligated to follow through with the student until he or she completes the course and should draw up Incomplete contracts with the students that outline the assignments the student must finish and the timeline for completion of the work.
Questions from Parents
From time to time, you may be contacted by parents asking you to report on a student’s progress in your course or inquiring about why a student received a failing grade. Because of the Privacy Act (FERPA), we are not allowed to reveal grade information without permission regarding students who are over the age of 18. I typically tell parents that we can’t release grade information without a student’s permission, but that I am happy to talk to the student himself or herself about a grade or progress in the class.
Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct
Plagiarism is a very complex term, the meaning and significance of which continue to be debated within academe. In writing classes, plagiarism tends to refer to the use of material written by others but submitted by the student as though it is his or her own work. Under this general definition, any of the following could be considered plagiarism:
- submission of a complete text not written by the student, which may have been downloaded from the Internet or taken from other sources such as student paper files;
- liberal cutting and pasting of sources into the student’s text without attribution;
- liberal cutting and pasting of sources, which may include close paraphrase or adoption of whole sentences, mixed with the student’s own language, with attribution but without the use of quotation marks to indicate language borrowed from other sources;
- occasional misuse of sources, with or without attribution, for example, occasional sentences that do not “sound” like the student writer’s typical prose that may include citation at the end of the paragraph but no quotation marks indicating a direct quote;
- work done by the student for another class but passed off as new, original work.
In general, programs and departments such as the English Department make a distinction between cases of academic dishonesty in which students intend to deceive by submitting material they have not written as though it were their own (numbers 1 and 2) and cases that involve the misuse of sources (number 3 and 4). At the same time, the English Department’s First Year Writing Program recognizes that such distinctions are not easy to make. Please follow the procedure below if you receive an assignment from a student that you suspect includes unattributed material not written by that student.
- Photocopy student materials, making one copy for yourself, OR submit a copy of the Safe Assign report from Blackboard.
- Consult with your department chair, if needed, to decide on a plan of action to address the particular case. A case of academic misconduct is most easily proven if you can find the source the student is borrowing from. Finding borrowed sources is not as hard as it once was:
- Use Google.com and type in the exact words of a sentence that does not sound like the students’ language. Try this on a few sentences in case the student has altered the words of some sentences.
- Check the students’ Internet sources to see whether portions have been cut and pasted into the student’s draft without attribution.
- Check the UTA library catalog to see if the sources the student used are owned by our library.
- Ask teachers in your Program or Departmentif they have received a paper on the same topic.
- If you do find the source (or sources), highlight the borrowed passages that have not been attributed on both the source and the students’ text.
- Refrain from accusing the student of plagiarism prior to a scheduled conference with a witness present. You may give back other students’ papers, letting this student know that you can’t return his or her work until you have a conference about it.
- During conferences with students to discuss incidents of possible academic misconduct, present the student with evidence and ask the student to explain the use of sources, etc. Generally, if the student admits to academic misconduct or if adequate evidence is present (e.g. copies of the paper or the misused sources indicating that the work is not the student’s own), the minimal penalty will be an “F” for the assignment.
- During the conference fill out and submit the Student Conduct form for plagiarism, which is available online at http://www.uta.edu/studentaffairs/conduct/faculty.html, and have the student sign it.
Students who admit to plagiarism must be made aware that the form will go on file with the university and that a second penalty will likely result in suspension from the university for one year. The form should be submitted to Student Conduct with the student’s essay and evidence within two weeks of the conference with the student.
If the student does not admit to plagiarism, you have the responsibility to persuade Student Conduct that the student’s work is plagiarized. Be careful to provide all documentation and to submit the essay and paperwork to Student Conduct immediately. You cannot give the student a grade on the assignment until Student Conduct meets with the student and resolves the issue. In this case of suspected plagiarism that happens at the end of the semester, you must give the student an incomplete until Student Conduct makes a decision.