Classroom policies regarding technology, academic honesty, and behavior help students form initial impressions of the tone and expectations for a course. Research into the impressions of classroom policy on students is ongoing, but suggests that students perceive instructors to have significant control over the fairness of classroom policies (Dykstra, et.al, 2008, and Duplaga, et. al, 2010). Instructors can meet that expectation by crafting policies for behavior that maximize student focus, inclusivity, and fairness.
Yale does not provide a syllabus template or sample language tailored to instructor use. However, the Recommendations below provide internal and external links to many sample policy statements. The Handbook for Instructors of Undergraduates in Yale College also provides guidance for many typical policies, as does the Yale CTL resources page on crafting a syllabus.
The instructor’s policy on academic integrity can be an effective place to infuse a dynamic tone of expectation, honesty, and care. The following language is adapted from the Chicago Center for Teaching’s sample Classroom Policies language guide:
The best learning occurs in environments that cultivate honest thoughtfulness, civil debate, and original creation. This means that we must identify when our work is distinct from the labors of others. To that end, all sources used in written or formal oral work should be properly cited. Yale’s statement on academic integrity defines plagiarism as “any misrepresentation of others’ work as one’s own, such as unacknowledged paraphrasing or quoting, use of another student’s material, incomplete acknowledgment of sources (including Internet sources), or submission of the same work to complete the requirements of more than one course,” and makes clear that the penalties for plagiarism include “two semesters of suspension.” In this class, the penalty for plagiarism will be a failing grade. In the unfortunate event that a student is suspected of plagiarism, I will follow the guidelines set forth in Yale University’s Handbook. Go to http://catalog.yale.edu/handbook-instructors-undergraduates-yale-college/teaching/academic-dishonesty/ for more information. If you are concerned as to what precisely constitutes plagiarism, please ask me.
Further sample, adaptable language created by Yale CTL faculty can be found here.
- Sample Language - Yale CTL provides sample syllabus language that can be adapted for individual use.
- Syllabus Policy: Use of Electronic Devices in Class - A body of literature in psychology research suggests that the usage of electronic devices in class can lead to a distracting learning environment.
- Syllabus Policy: Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism - Includes resources for understanding common knowledge, paraphrase, and common citation systems.
- Syllabus Policy: Civil and Earnest Dialogue - American college and university campuses face increasing incidents and scrutiny over racial violence, sexual harassment, free speech issues, and the roles of religious organizations on campus. Instructors should develop strategies for addressing and managing discussion about such ideas (Derek Bok Center’s “Hot Moments in the Classroom,” and UM CRLT’s “Handling Controversial Topics in the Classroom”).
- Syllabus Policy: Grading and Related Policies - Grading encompasses a host of behavioral activities including participation, attendance, and extensions. Effective grading policies provide consistent treatment of these overlapping concerns.
- Strategy: Make the Syllabus Intentional - The syllabus impacts student impressions of an instructor and degree of engagement with the material. Writing intentional, inviting language of care can introduce vital classroom policies as an agreement and collaboration, rather than a contract or authority structure.
- Strategy: Understanding Yale’s Shopping Period - During the first ten days of the semester, students “shop” various courses before registering their finalized course schedules. Instructors should anticipate this short period while planning the first two weeks of courses.
- Strategy: Solve a Teaching Problem Resource (Carnegie Mellon University, Eberly Center) - Modules for resolving issues in the classroom.
Duplaga, E., and Astani, M. (2010). “An Exploratory Study of Student Perceptions of Which Classroom Policies are Fairest.” Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 8.1: 9-33.
Dykstra, DV., Moen, D., and Davies, T. (2008). “Student Perceptions of Appropriate Classroom Policies of College Professors.” Journal of College Teaching & Learning 5.4: 13-22.