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Is Your Syllabus Breaking The Rules?

With a new semester comes a new set of syllabi, and therefore new syllabi that are breaking university policy. As much as it may not seem like it, professors are required to follow certain rules when creating syllabi and class structure, as set by the Faculty Senate.

There’s a website that outlines a number of the most commonly violated Academic Rights, but here are three of the most prevalent.

Grades: Each course’s grading criteria must be outlined for you in the first 10 calendar days of the semester. Nothing can be left nebulous.

Syllabus: A written syllabus must be provided to you in each course within the first ten calendar days of a semester or its equivalent.  A syllabus must contain information on the following subjects: course content, expectations, course examination policy, basis for grades, and academic integrity policy for the course.  Any and all changes made to the syllabus must be given to you in writing, not just thrown up on ANGEL or mentioned in passing in class.

Exams: Professors must give you written notice of exam procedures in the first 10 days of the semester. No more than 10% of a semester’s grade may be assigned to you in the week before finals (this is probably the single most violated academic policy university wide). If you have no final exam in a course, any whole semester integrative assignments must be due before the first day of final’s week.

No more than four evening exams per course may be assigned. Evening exams must be announced to you by the first week of the semester. If you have more than one exam scheduled in any one evening, you may reschedule one as a conflict exam.

If your professor is breaking any of these policies, then you can do something about it. The first step however is to talk to your professor. It’s most likely that the professor didn’t know about the policy or thought they were being helpful by scheduling a huge test the week before finals.

If that doesn’t work, contact a department staff member, and they will point you to an administrator who will help resolve the solution.

If you need any other help, feel free to contact your academic student council of your college or academicrights@psu.edu to ensure the proper policies are being followed.

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