Faculty Reminders: Guidelines, Requirements, Best Practices for a Successful Semester

Updated for fall 2017

Please consider the following topics that might be useful to your upcoming semester preparation.

Important Dates

  • Monday, August 21 - Faculty Convocation, 8:30am - noon
  • Wednesday, August 23 - First day of instruction
  • Monday, September 4 - Labor Day; No Classes; Offices Closed
  • Tuesday, September 12 - Last day for faculty to drop a student without a “W” grade
  • Wednesday, September 13 - Last day for students to drop a class without a “W” grade
  • Friday, September 29 - Deadline to file graduation application
  • Wednesday, October 18 - Last day for students to change grading option
  • Friday, November 10 - Veterans Day; No Classes; Offices Closed
  • November 20-25 - Fall Recess (Thanksgiving)
  • Tuesday, December 12 - Last day of classes
  • December 13-19 - Final Examinations
  • Tuesday, January 2 - Grades Due

Course Syllabi

Academic Senate Policy #F14-257 requires that you provide students with a syllabus (electronic or hard copy) at the beginning of the semester that clearly states the course requirements, in particular those assignments on which you base the final grade. What must be included in the syllabus is detailed in the policy. Academic Senate Policy #F14-257 online.

  • Academic Senate policy #S07-244 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu).”
  • Academic Senate Policy #S15-257 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Dean of Students. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:

    The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208; SAFE Place website
    Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208; Counseling and Psychological Services Center website
    For more information on your rights and available resources see: Title IX at SF State

  • If you make any substantive changes to the syllabus during the semester, Senate policy requires you to distribute a written description of the changes to your students. We recommend that you provide your Department Chair or Program Director with a copy of this description.
  • Final grades may be based only on student work clearly described in writing, and it must be clear to students what that grade is based on, particularly when activities such as group work are involved.  In all cases, the instructor of record is responsible for assigning grades and for being able to explain the basis of those grades.
  • If your course meets general education or graduation requirements, you should note which of the requirements it meets on your syllabus, as well as the learning objectives associated with that requirement.

Reducing Grade Grievances

Although we cannot control whether or not a student will file a grade grievance, there are a few actions we can take which may reduce the likelihood one will occur, which is useful since they are time-consuming and disruptive to faculty, students, and others who work to resolve them. The suggestions below are consistent with Senate policy and considered best practices:

  1. Be very clear about your criteria for assigning grades.
  2. Provide grading criteria that are easy to understand.
  3. Provide timely feedback multiple times throughout the semester.
  4. Indicate whether or not work submitted in another class may also be submitted to you.
  5. Specify your policies regarding attendance, plagiarism, and cheating.
  6. Describe the impact of missing assignments or failing grades, recognizing that in some systems an F may be the equivalent of zero to fifty-nine points out of a hundred and that variation could impact the final grade.
  7. Provide the above information in writing to students and your Chair/Director, preferably by the first day of class, and post it electronically, if you are using an electronic resource.
  8. When a student indicates they may want to grieve a grade, explain your criteria for the assigned grade and refer them to the Senate’s grade grievance policy.

Academic Ethics

Please make your expectations about academic ethics clear (e.g., appropriate use of quotations and citations, the types and amount of collaboration that are and are not acceptable in the class you teach, whether work used in another class may be submitted in your class, etc.). What seems self-evident to you might not be clear to students or may/may not be the practices in other classes. Consider providing students with a statement about the academic ethics you expect in the class you teach. Information about the College of Liberal & Creative Arts policy and procedures regarding plagiarism is available online.  A link to a PDF or Word copy of the form for reporting instances of plagiarism is located at the bottom of the LCA website faculty page.

Use of Paper and Supplies

Wherever appropriate, please consider reducing your use of paper and supplies. Each photocopied page cost the college 4 ½ cents per copy, beyond the paper costs. We significantly reduced our costs in recent years (thank you!) and we  hope to do the same this year. Reductions we make in supply and photocopying costs benefit us in other ways (e.g., offering more classes or making other purchases). Every copier in the college has been set-up to scan, which costs us nothing and scanned files can be shared electronically, obviating the need to produce hard copy. Also, reducing our use of paper and supplies is ecologically sound. If you wish, you can let students know whether you will accept work on re-used paper.

Adding Students

Instructors of courses that are not fully enrolled may distribute permit numbers to students, up to the limit of the course classification or room capacity, whichever is smaller. Questions about course classification should be addressed to your Department Chair or Program Director. Room capacity limits are posted in each room. For the purposes of class size, it is probably best to assume each enrolled student is in your class, at least until the second class session, even if the student is not present at the first class meeting. There are a number of reasons students might miss the first class that would be beyond their control.

Wait Lists

These lists are used during the registration process to replace students who were enrolled but drop.  Once a class meets, it is within the instructor’s discretion to determine which student(s) to add to the class roster. Information about how to secure your class roster and other information in Campus Solutions can be found online.

Dropping or Withdrawing Students and Warning about WU Grades

Through the third week of classes, students may drop a class or faculty may drop students “who do not attend the first class meeting or do not meet the course criteria” as specified in the Bulletin. Please be aware that a WU grade is counted as an F for GPA purposes; encourage students to drop before the end of the third week if they don’t want the class to avoid a WU. After the third week of classes, faculty may withdraw a student who requests to be withdrawn for serious and compelling reasons. Faculty members enter their approval of such withdrawals in web grades, where the proposed withdrawal will be reviewed at the program and college levels. The Academic Senate passed several rules regarding withdrawals. We encourage you to include the following statement on your syllabus: “Students need to drop classes they don’t want by the end of the third week. Otherwise you might receive a WU (unauthorized withdrawal) which is equal to an F for GPA purposes. You also should be aware of the university’s and college’s rules on withdrawals which you can find at the Academic Senate website and at LCA's Advising Resource Center website.

Office Hours

Faculty are expected to keep regular office hours. Check with your department or program for more specific expectations. If you must miss a posted office hour, please leave a note stating that you will not be there so that students do not wait unnecessarily.

Class Sessions and Final Examinations

Do not schedule required attendance beyond the official classroom meeting times, additional time specified in the official class schedule, and final-examination schedule assigned by the University.  To require attendance outside of those official designations is not permitted, and doing so might interfere with other classes or other commitments students have made.

Independent (Special) Studies

To enroll in special studies (699 or 899), a student must have the following cumulative grade point averages: 3.00 for undergraduate students and 3.25 for graduate students. Graduate students may not include more than a total of 6 units of special studies (699 or 899) as part of their Graduate Approved Program. Students should have demonstrated their ability to work independently and must have the approval of their Instructor and the Department Chair or Program Director. Transcripts must be attached to signed forms before they are delivered to the Dean’s office.

Classroom Etiquette

Please be considerate of the students and teachers using the room after your class is over. Return chairs and tables to their original position, clean the chalkboards, and relinquish the classroom when your assigned-time ends. Please do not permit students to move chairs from one classroom to another.

Confidentiality of Records

Useful information on protecting student’s privacy can be found online. To avoid violations of FERPA regulations, DO NOT:

  • ever link the name of a student with that student's Student ID or Social Security Number in any public manner
  • leave graded tests in a stack or envelope outside your office for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
  • circulate a printed class list with student name and student ID number or grades as an attendance roster or for any other purpose
  • discuss the progress of any student with anyone  (including parents) other than the student without the consent of the student
  • provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose
  • provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university employees in finding a student on campus