Syllabi Policy Statements

Op3.09 Course Syllabi/Policy Statements

Governing Policy G3.03 Faculty Handbook (Section 4.5.1.2) requires that all course syllabi/policy statements include statements on nondiscrimination, disability accommodation, cheating and plagiarism, attendance and a cell phone policy. The suggested wording for these statements, as well as several other recommended policy statements can be found on the Provost website. Faculty who wish to compose their own wording or to expand on these statements must comply with the Faculty Handbook, relevant University policies, and state and federal laws. All updates to syllabi should be made prior to the beginning of the semester. In addition to statements that are required by the Faculty Handbook, suggested wording about other university policies, including the University’s procedure for dropping classes is provided for faculty who might wish to include that information.

REQUIRED STATEMENTS

Sample syllabus template with required contingency plan for fall 2020

Consider adding information about Virtual Office Hours to Syllabus Contact Information

INSTRUCTOR CONTACT INFORMATION:

Instructor Name: [Your name here]
Email: [instructoremail@missouristate.edu]
Phone:
Office Hours:
Office Location: [physical office location AND/OR Virtual Office Meeting Room in Blackboard]
Communication Expectations: 
Sample Statement:
I will be available during my scheduled office hours either in my office on campus or through my Virtual Office meeting room in Blackboard.

Please use ONLY your MSU email when sending email correspondence to me in this course. As I teach multiple courses each semester, it will help me assist you faster if you include the course name and section number in the subject line of your email. It is also helpful if you include your Bear Pass student ID number. Not including this information could delay my response to you.

Emails sent during the week (Monday – Friday), will be responded to within 24 hours.  Emails received over the weekend or during breaks/holidays will be receive a response within 48 hours. I can be reached by phone Monday - Friday during designated office hours (except on when the university is closed). If you leave a message, I will return your call within 24 hours during the week. If you leave a message after 5:00 p.m. on Friday or on the weekend it will be the following Monday before I will be able to return your call.

Example of faculty plan for dealing with the continuation of class if the university experiences another shut-down and for dealing with high-absenteeism in the event of a COVID or other communicable illness outbreak.

COURSE PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED

The COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders we experienced during Spring 2020 reinforced the need to plan for the unexpected.  In our area we can experience inclement weather and influenza outbreaks that could prevent us from meeting on campus.  Below is how we will communicate and continue our work in this course should the unexpected occur.

 
Question Statement
How will our class meet? Sample Statement: If we are unable to come to campus to meet for class, I will post an announcement in Blackboard about how we will be meeting. Collaborate Ultra will be used for class meetings and class discussion will take place on the discussion board. Your attendance and participation will be expected regardless if we are on campus or in the online Blackboard course.
How will I meet with my Instructor?

Sample Statement:  I will hold virtual office hours using Collaborate Ultra during my designated office hours (except when the university is closed). Emails sent during the week (Monday – Friday), will be responded to within 24 hours. Emails received over the weekend or during breaks/holidays will receive a response within 48 hours.

For class related questions, there is a forum on the Discussion Board titled “Class Café”. I will check the Discussion Board daily and answer questions as needed. I also encourage students to read and respond to postings from their classmates.

How will instruction be delivered? Sample Statement: I will post readings and videos for some of our lessons as well asking questions through the discussion board or during our Collaborate Ultra meetings. As I stated earlier, your attendance and participation in these sessions will be expected.
How often do I need to go to the online course? Sample Statement: You are expected to participate in the online activities for as long as we are unable to meet on campus. This may be one day if we experience an ice storm or it may be several weeks if we experience something like COVID-19. You are expected to go to the course site every day. I will send Announcement emails throughout the entire time we are not meeting on campus.
Is it possible to receive course announcements as a text? Sample Statement: If you are using the Blackboard app, you can have announcements sent to you as a text message using the instructions in this step-by-step guide.
How will I turn in homework? Sample Statement: Homework and other assignments will be turned in using the Assignment Link in Blackboard.  The instructions for how to submit will be included in the assignment instructions.
What about exams? Sample Statement: Quizzes and exams will be taken through Blackboard.
How will I know what grade I received on an assignment or test? Sample Statement:  You can view grades and feedback in My Grades.

MISSING CLASS IF YOU ARE SICK

While missing class is usually not advisable, it is important to stay at home when sick to avoid the spread of communicable illness. If you are sick or not feeling well, please do not come to class but rather seek medical attention from your doctor or at Mager’s Health and Wellness Center. They can provide you a medical excuse and advise you when it is safe to return to class.  Contact your instructor to let them know that you are sick and will not be in class. By working with your instructor, you will be able to keep up with readings and assignments through the Blackboard course site.

Example statement about student requirements for technology.

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS FOR TECHNOLOGY

The use of technology is a part of our everyday lives at the university and there is important information  you should know about your own computer’s capabilities, Internet access, Blackboard, and other technology tools whether you are participating in a classroom on campus or taking an online class. The link below will provide you with the information you need to know.
[Computer Services webpage on required technology specifications]

Statement of attendance policy (required—different for every instructor, no suggested wording is provided)

Note to instructors: The university’s attendance policy can be found at Attendance Policy. As stated in that policy, instructors must provide students with a written statement of the specific attendance policy for that class. The instructor has the responsibility to determine specific attendance policies for each course taught, including the role that attendance plays in the calculation of final grades and the extent to which work missed due to non-attendance can be made up. The university encourages instructors not to make attendance a disproportionately weighted component of the final grade, and also expects instructors to be reasonable in accommodating students whose absence from class resulted from: 1) participation in university-sanctioned activities and programs; 2) personal illness; or 3) family and/or other compelling circumstances.

Statement of grading policy (required—different for every instructor, no suggested wording is provided)

Note to instructors: The university’s plus/minus grading system can be found at Grading and the Credit Point System

Faculty have the choice to utilize either the standard grade policy or the plus/minus grading option but are required to indicate their grading scale on their syllabus.

Suggested wording for required statement on academic dishonesty:

Missouri State University is a community of scholars committed to developing educated persons who accept the responsibility to practice personal and academic integrity. You are responsible for knowing and following the university’s academic integrity policy plus additional more-specific policies for each class. The university policy, formally known as the “Student Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures” is available online at Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures (Students) and also at the Reserves Desk in Meyer Library. Any student participating in any form of academic dishonesty will be subject to sanctions as described in this policy.

Note to instructors: Please be aware that the academic integrity policy requires that a student who is charged with academic dishonesty in a course be allowed to continue attending class and fulfilling course requirements while they exercise their right to appeal allegations of academic dishonesty. The student should receive a grade of “Incomplete” in the course if an appeal from an allegation is still in progress at the end of the semester, or if the allegation of academic dishonesty is brought forward at the end of the semester. The grade of “Incomplete” remains on the transcript until the appeal is resolved.

Note to instructors: Some academic programs, especially graduate programs, may have published policies regarding additional sanctions for academic dishonesty. All program-specific sanctions should be included in course policy statements.

Suggested wording for required statement of nondiscrimination:

Missouri State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution, and maintains a grievance procedure available to any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against. At all times, it is your right to address inquiries or concerns about possible discrimination to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance, Park Central Office Building, 117 Park Central Square, Suite 111, 417-836-4252. Other types of concerns (i.e., concerns of an academic nature) should be discussed directly with your instructor and can also be brought to the attention of your instructor’s Department Head. Please visit the OIEC website.

Suggested wording for required statement on disability accommodation:

If you are a student with a disability and anticipate barriers related to this course, it is important to request accommodations and establish an accommodation plan with the University. Please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at the Disability Resource Center website, Meyer Library, Suite 111, 417-836-4192, to initiate the process to establish your accommodation plan. The DRC will work with you to establish your accommodation plan, or it may refer you to other appropriate resources based on the nature of your disability. In order to prepare an accommodation plan, the University usually requires that students provide documentation relating to their disability. Please be prepared to provide such documentation if requested. Once a University accommodation plan is established, you may notify the class instructor of approved accommodations. If you wish to utilize your accommodation plan, it is suggested that you do so in a timely manner, preferably within the first two weeks of class. Early notification to the instructor allows for full benefit of the accommodations identified in the plan. Instructors will not receive the accommodation plan until you provide that plan, and are not required to apply accommodations retroactively.

Suggested wording on required cell phone policy:

As a member of the learning community, each student has a responsibility to other students who are members of the community. When cell phones or pagers ring and students respond in class or leave class to respond, it disrupts the class. Therefore, the Office of the Provost prohibits the use by students of cell phones, pagers, PDAs, or similar communication devices during scheduled classes. All such devices must be turned off or put in a silent (vibrate) mode and ordinarily should not be taken out during class. Given the fact that these same communication devices are an integral part of the University’s emergency notification system, an exception to this policy would occur when numerous devices activate simultaneously. When this occurs, students may consult their devices to determine if a university emergency exists. If that is not the case, the devices should be immediately returned to silent mode and put away. Other exceptions to this policy may be granted at the discretion of the instructor.

Suggested wording for emergency response statement:

At the first class meeting, students should become familiar with a basic emergency response plan through a dialogue with the instructor that includes a review and awareness of exits specific to the classroom and the location of evacuation centers for the building. All instructors are provided this information specific to their classroom and/or lab assignments in an email prior to the beginning of the fall semester from the Office of the Provost and University Safety. Students with disabilities impacting mobility should discuss the approved accommodations for emergency situations and additional options when applicable with the instructor. For more information, visit University Safety.

OPTIONAL STATEMENTS

Suggested wording on dropping a class:

It is your responsibility to understand the University’s procedure for dropping a class. If you stop attending this class but do not follow proper procedure for dropping the class, you will receive a failing grade and will also be financially obligated to pay for the class. For information about dropping a class or withdrawing from the university, contact the Office of the Registrar at 417-836-5520.

Faculty may also wish to include relevant drop deadlines. Drop deadlines for the courses you teach can be found at My Missouri State > Teaching and Advising tab > Faculty Services channel > Refund and Drop Deadlines.

Suggested wording on audio and video recording course activity:

Students who wish to record lectures or class activities for study purposes should inform the faculty member first. Distribution or sale of recordings or other course materials is prohibited without the written permission of the instructor and other students who are recorded. Distribution without permission is a violation of copyright law and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (Sections 4.6, 4.8, 4.9).

Suggested wording on religious accommodation:

The University may provide a reasonable accommodation based on a person’s sincerely held religious belief. In making this determination, the University reviews a variety of factors, including whether the accommodation would create an undue hardship. The accommodation request imposes responsibilities and obligations on both the individual requesting the accommodation and the University. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their sincerely held religious belief shall be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious observances on which they will be absent by submitting a Request for Religious Accommodation Form to the instructor by the end of the third week of a full semester course or the end of the second week of a half semester course.

Suggested wording on Mental Health and Stress Management:

As a student you may experience a range of personal issues that can impede learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance and may reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. You can learn more about free and confidential Missouri State University Counseling Center services available to assist you at counselingcenter.missouristate.edu.

Suggested wording on Title IX Policy:

Missouri State University has a Title IX policy that guides our response to instances of sexual violence. Sexual Violence includes: Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Discrimination, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, Sexual Harassment and Pregnancy issues. The Title IX policy can be located on the MSU Title IX website. This website is also a good resource for any questions or issues involving Title IX and contains contact information for the MSU Title IX Office and staff. Read an overview of the Title IX office.

If an MSU student discloses a Title IX related issue to a MSU faculty or staff member who is deemed to be a “Responsible Employee” under the policy, that faculty or staff member is required to report such disclosure to the Title IX Coordinator. A responsible employee includes any employee who has the authority to take action to redress sexual violence; who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate school designee; or whom a student could reasonably believe has the authority or duty to take action. Magers Health and Wellness Center employees and MSU Counseling Center Clinicians are not considered to be Responsible Employees under the policy, and therefore, are not required to report Title IX issues to the Title IX Coordinator.

Chosen Name Policy:

A student may choose a name other than their legal name to identify themselves at Missouri State University. A chosen name is different than the student’s legal name. Refer to the Chosen Name policy for more information. Students can provide their chosen first and middle names in the Profile tab of My Missouri State.

Suicide Prevention:

In accordance with Missouri law (Mo. Rev. Stat. §173.1200), the University has established a policy regarding Suicide Prevention, available Suicide Programs and Related Procedures.  The policy is available at the following link:
https://www.missouristate.edu/policy/Op1_08-suicide-prevention-available-suicide-programs-and-related-procedures.htm.

Online Test Proctoring and Security

To maintain the academic integrity of online testing, this course will require the use of a lock-down browser.  Some online exams may use an optional webcam features called Monitor to “proctor” or record the test session for later review.  Additional information, including how to download and install this tool, can be found at Respondus LockDown Browser.

Example Syllabus Statement

Test integrity and security is of the utmost importance at Missouri State University. This course requires the use of Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor for online exams. Monitor requires the use of a webcam. It is recommended that the webcam be the type that plugs in with a USB cable, not built-in to the monitor. Watch this short video to get a basic understanding of LockDown Browser and Monitor features.

Then download and install LockDown Browser. (Please note that the Lockdown Browser is not currently compatible with Chromebooks.)

When taking an online exam that requires LockDown Browser and a webcam, remember the following guidelines:

  • Ensure you're in a location where you won't be interrupted
  • Do not take an online exam in a public setting. This includes the Open Computer Labs. The Monitor webcam feature will note peripheral activities such as students walking by or other students’ voices and “flag” your test attempt for suspicious activity.
  • Turn off all other devices (e.g. tablets, phones, second computers) and place them outside of your reach
  • Clear your desk of all external materials not permitted - books, papers, other devices
  • Before starting the test, know how much time is available for it, and that you've allotted sufficient time to complete it
  • Remain at your computer for the duration of the test
  • If the computer or networking environment is different than what was used previously with the Webcam Check and System & Network Check in LockDown Browser, run the checks again prior to starting the test
  • To produce a good webcam video, do the following:
    • Avoid wearing baseball caps or hats with brims
    • Ensure your computer or tablet is on a firm surface (a desk or table). Do NOT have the computer on your lap, a bed, or other surface where the device (or you) are likely to move
    • If using a built-in webcam, avoid tilting the screen after the webcam setup is complete
    • Take the exam in a well-lit room and avoid backlighting, such as sitting with your back to a window

Remember that LockDown Browser will prevent you from accessing other websites or applications; you will be unable to exit the test until all questions are completed and submitted.