Faculty Handbook 2016–17
draft in progress

Planning the Course Syllabus

Academic Calendar | Course Syllabus | Student Absence Policy | Assessing Student Performance | Exam Week | Student Evaluations | Human Subjects Committee

Academic Calendar
The Purchase College academic calendar is based on two semesters, fall and spring. Each semester consists of 15 weeks of classes and a recess period. The fall semester typically begins on the last Monday in August and concludes in December. The spring semester typically begins after Martin Luther King Day in January with commencement in mid-May, usually on a Friday.

  • The current academic calendar contains information on class holidays, exam week, and academic deadlines (registration, add/drop, withdrawal, etc.), along with links to future academic calendars “at a glance.”
  • The winter session and summer session academic calendars are determined and published annually by the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education (by October for winter session and March for summer session).

Course Syllabus
Each student in a course must be provided with a written course syllabus at the first class meeting. A copy of the course syllabus must also be filed with the chair or director of the school or conservatory. If revisions of the syllabus become necessary, they must be written and circulated to all students in the course. The syllabus should contain at least the following:

  • the instructor’s contact information and, when required, office hours
  • a list of books and/or materials that students are required to purchase
  • the instructional objectives of the course
  • attendance and plagiarism policies
  • the grading policy, including a schedule for quizzes, papers, examinations, and the final examination, along with the relative weights that are assigned to each in determining the final grade
  • an outline of the subject areas to be covered

For related information, please refer to Accommodating Students with Disabilities in this handbook and Academic Credit and Student Workload in the Academic Policies section of the Purchase College Catalog.

Syllabus Template and Guidelines: PDF | .doc
Your chair, director, or colleagues will be happy to provide you with sample syllabi.

Student Absence Policy
Except in the School of the Arts where attendance is required and in College Writing courses, which have a common absence policy, the number of student absences allowed in a particular course is at the discretion of the instructor. However, faculty members are urged to encourage attendance, and the attendance policy must be clearly stated on the syllabus. Students absent from class for any reason are expected to complete all assigned work in the course.

  • Attendance on Religious Holidays
    In accordance with New York State Education Law, Section 224-a, any student who is unable, because of religious beliefs, to register or attend classes on a particular day or days will be excused from any examination, study, or work requirements [scheduled on that day]. It is the responsibility of the faculty to make available [to the student] an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements. The complete policy is available on the College Policies site.
  • Taking Attendance
    While the student absence policy is at the discretion of the individual faculty member, it is strongly recommended that attendance be taken at each class meeting. Federal financial aid regulations require the university to determine a student’s last date of attendance for each course. Consequently, a faculty member may be asked to certify (a) the last date of attendance on course withdrawal forms and (b) the last date of attendance for a student who informally withdraws.
  • Student Athletes
    Participation on an intercollegiate athletic team is a sanctioned college activity that enhances the student’s educational experience at Purchase College. It is a high-impact, outside-the-classroom learning experience that is credit-bearing and meets the health and wellness requirement in the core curriculum. Student athletes are required to meet with their professors before the start of their sport season to discuss any schedule conflicts and develop a plan to make up any missed work. The student athlete’s professor is required to sign the Intercollegiate Athletics Professor Acknowledgement form, which the student athlete must return to his or her coach before athletic competitions begin. From time to time, students participating in intercollegiate athletic competitions may provide a faculty member with an approved absence excuse letter, signed by the athletics director, explaining an absence due to a game or match (not a practice) that had to be rescheduled. The student athlete still assumes responsibility for all work missed. If the student is not doing well in the course, the faculty member has the right to tell the student that he or she cannot miss class.
  • Other Student Activities
    Operating on the same principles as student athletic participation, students involved in credit-bearing activities that include high-impact, outside-the-classroom obligations (e.g., internships, performing arts ensembles, etc.) are also required to discuss schedule conflicts with their faculty at the beginning of the semester. Students may not miss classes for rehearsals or practices, and should plan with faculty to make up work missed due to performances or tours required in another course. As with student athletes, if a student is not doing well in a course, the faculty member has the right to tell the student that he or she cannot be absent for such activities.

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Assessing Student Performance
Providing students with an assessment of their performance early in the semester is important to student retention. This is especially true for students who are new to the institution and for students who need to improve their academic performance. Because of the importance of early assessment and intervention, the college expects all faculty members to give students in undergraduate courses at least one major grade on a paper, examination, or other appropriate basis of evaluation early in the semester.

  • Faculty members in the liberal arts and sciences are required to file midterm warnings. These are filed online, starting around October 1 for the fall semester and March 1 for the spring semester, using the Faculty Feedback system on myHeliotrope (under “Quick Links” on my.purchase.edu).
  • Faculty feedback at the midterm point is essential for students enrolled in the EOP and MAP programs, whose progress is closely monitored by the EOP/MAP staff.
  • The athletics program sends evaluation forms each semester to each athlete’s instructors (in addition to the information requested for midterms warnings on myHeliotrope); responses are sent to the NCAA compliance officer and the Advising Center. Because these programs use the information received from faculty members to provide students with additional guidance and service, faculty cooperation in completing these evaluations is expected.

Exam Week
The last week of classes in each semester is commonly understood to be the exam period, and new work is not assigned during this time. The Office of the Registrar posts the exam week schedule at www.purchase.edu/departments/Registrar/FinalExamSchedule.aspx.

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Student Evaluations
Student evaluations of instruction are conducted toward the end of each term. For on-campus courses, evaluation forms are distributed by the individual schools and conservatories. A packet of these forms (with instructions) for each course is placed in faculty mailboxes, and students complete the forms during class. For courses that are delivered entirely online, students complete an online survey, which is sent to their Purchase College email accounts.

For in-class evaluations, faculty members are asked to have one or two students (depending on the size of the class) administer the evaluations. To assure the confidentiality of this evaluation process, faculty members must leave the classroom until the responsible student volunteer has administered, collected, and sealed the completed evaluations in the provided envelope. A student volunteer will return the evaluations to the school/conservatory office. Faculty members should not return the evaluations themselves. Students may not ask for an evaluation form at a later date (e.g., if they miss the class session) or ask to change their evaluation after the forms have been submitted.

These evaluations provide students with an opportunity to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of their courses. The evaluations also help instructors improve their courses and are used as one component in the reappointment process. For related information, please refer to Student Evaluation of Instruction in the “Evaluation, Reappointment, and Promotion” section of this handbook.

Human Subjects Committee
If a course requires research involving interaction with or the collection of data from or about living human beings, the faculty member must contact the Human Subjects Committee for applicable policies and procedures, which may include prior approval. Please refer to the Human Subjects Policy in this handbook; the complete policy and guidelines are available on the College Policies site.

Related Information:
Course Proposals and Curriculum Development
Health and Safety
Research Using Animals

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