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Princeton University
Office of the Dean of the Faculty

Rules and Procedures of the Faculty of Princeton University and Other Provisions of Concern to the Faculty

Last printed June 1994; Last updated May 2006

CHAPTER VI: CONDUCT OF UNDERGRADUATE COURSES OF STUDY

A. Undergraduate Course Mechanics

1. COURSE ENROLLMENTS

a. At the beginning of each term, every instructor in charge of a course receives from the Office of the Registrar a list of students enrolled in the course.

b. A student who wishes to enter or withdraw from a course does so through the Office of the Registrar under the procedures described in the issue of the Official Register of Princeton University which announces Courses Offered during the current term.

2. MEETINGS OF COURSES

a. Under the Faculty Committee on Schedule, the Office of the Registrar schedules the time and place of meeting for lecture courses and class meetings. Changes in either the time or place of meeting, if necessary, should be arranged through the Office of the Registrar.

b. Seminars, precepts, and small group sections may be assigned times and places for meeting in the same way, through the Office of the Registrar.

c. Out of respect for colleagues, as well as students, lectures and other formal academic exercises should end promptly. For many students the full 10-minute period between classes is required to stay on schedule.

3. STUDENT OBLIGATIONS TO COURSES

a. Undergraduate courses are offered on a term basis. Faculty members may set deadlines within the term for required essays or papers, but only the Office of the Dean of the College, acting for the Committee on Examinations and Standing, may authorize extensions beyond the stipulated University deadlines (see The Undergraduate Announcement: Academic Regulations).

b. Students are expected to participate fully in all aspects of University courses in which they are enrolled.

c. Cases of excessive absence from a course, failure to submit numerous or significant assignments in a course or unsatisfactory performance in course work as the term progresses should be reported promptly to the Office of the Dean of the College.

4. TERM TESTS AND MIDTERM GRADES

a. All quizzes and tests during the term, as well as final examinations, are conducted under the honor system (see Section VI.B.4 below).

b. Tests or examinations based on a significant section of the course should be indicated on the syllabus or announced adequately in advance.

c. Unless special provision is made by the Office of the Registrar, quizzes and tests during a term should be held during a class period regularly assigned to the course, and must end promptly.

d. If a student is absent from a test because of illness or equally compelling cause, the absence is not counted against his or her record. The instructor in charge of the course determines whether the test is to be waived or a makeup test given. If an absence is not of the above kind, the student's record is determined by the instructor in charge of the course.

e. In 100 and 200 level (underclass) courses, midterm grades are reported to the Office of the Registrar by a specified date shortly after the middle of each term. Departments may determine whether and how individual students shall be notified of their grades in each course.

f. There is no provision for formal reporting of midterm grades in 300 and 400 level (upper-class) courses. While the term is in progress, instructors are urged to report to the Office of the Dean of the College the names of any students whose standing is marginal.

B. Term Papers, Examinations, and Final Grades in Undergraduate Courses

1. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

a. An examination not to exceed three hours is normally required in each course at the end of the term.

b. All major requirements in a course should be clearly indicated to students at the outset. If there are changes, care must be taken to assure that all individuals enrolled in the course are informed.

c. When instances of suspected plagiarism occur on term papers or projects,
a report should be made to the Committee on Discipline through the Office of the Dean of Student Life.

d. Specific procedures covering late completion of work in a course because of medical or other compelling reasons are set out in full in The Undergraduate Announcement: Academic Regulations.

2. PREPARATION OF FINAL EXAMINATIONS

a. Final course examinations should be designed to enable a student to demonstrate a grasp of the subject of the course and thus should be based upon large parts of the syllabus rather than a restricted topic or special section.

b. In a course taught by several instructors, responsibility for the final examination rests with the individual in charge who should, in turn, consult with her or his colleagues in the course.

c. It is the obligation of those concerned with preparing an examination to ensure that copies of it do not fall into unauthorized hands in advance of the examination.

3. CONDUCT OF FINAL EXAMINATIONS

a. The examination should be held at the time and place designated in the official schedule of examinations. Any changes in time or place must be authorized by the Office of the Registrar acting for the Committee on Schedule and the Committee on Examinations and Standing.

b. The examination should begin promptly and end promptly at the designated times.

c. If a student arrives late at an examination, there are procedures through which he or she may apply for a postponed examination (see The Undergraduate Announcement: Examinations, Tests).

Alternatively the student may, if he or she chooses, undertake to complete the examination within the remainder of the time allotted to the examination.

4. THE HONOR SYSTEM

All written examinations and tests are taken in accordance with the provisions of the Honor System. (The constitution and a description of the Honor System are given in The Undergraduate Announcement.) The provisions which immediately concern an officer of instruction in charge of an examination are the following:

a. There shall be no proctorial supervision of examinations, but each student shall subscribe on her or his paper the following pledge:

"I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code during this examination."

b. Suspected breaches of this pledge which come to the attention of the Faculty shall be reported immediately to the student Honor Committee.

c. At the request of the student Honor Committee the following rules are to be observed at all examinations and tests taken under the Honor System:

1) Students may not take an examination or written test in any place other than that regularly scheduled for the examination or test, except at the Infirmary, unless the instructor has granted specific permission, which must then also be granted to any other student who makes the same request.

2) All students taking examinations should, as far as feasible, sit in alternate seats, refrain from bringing books and notes into the examination room, and avoid sitting near those with whom they have studied.

3) Each student taking an examination or test should indicate the number of the seat he or she occupies in the room.

4) The examiner shall insist that every student taking an examination or test write out the pledge and sign her or his name thereto.

5. DETERMINATION OF FINAL COURSE GRADES

a. The final standing of a student in a course should be determined in consideration of the quality of the student's overall participation in the course--not only on the basis of the final examination or other final exercise. The relative weight to be given to the elements is decided by the department concerned, except that in underclass courses the final examination may not be weighted more than fifty percent in calculating the final grade.

b. When more than one instructor has responsibility for a course, the final grade of each student is determined by the group of instructors and reported to the Office of the Registrar by the instructor in charge of the course.

c. In a course for which two or more instructors have responsibility, no final grade is to be regarded as definitely established until after consultation among the concerned members of the Faculty.

6. REPORTING OF FINAL COURSE GRADES

a. The final standing of each student in a course is reported to the Office of the Registrar, on a form provided for the purpose, as soon as possible after the scheduled final examination or, in courses that do not have final examinations, the deadline for submission of final papers or other final exercises, and in any case within the following limits: in courses involving less than twenty students the report is to be handed in within three days; in other courses the report is to be handed in within six days.

b. Only the final grade in a course is reported to the Office of the Registrar but term grades and the final examination grade should be available if the Committee on Examinations and Standing requests information about marginal or failing students.

c. If a student has been absent from the final examination or has not completed other major requirements, he or she is to be reported "Inc" (incomplete) only if the student has made arrangements through the Office of the Dean of the College to complete the course. Otherwise the student's final grade is to be computed assuming that he or she has a failing grade on the final examination or other missing component(s). (See The Undergraduate Announcement: Academic Regulations.)

d. When a student fails a course, the instructor submits to the Committee on Examinations and Standing a written report on the student's work. These reports are reviewed by the Committee before it places a student on academic probation or requires a student to withdraw from the University.

e. After a final grade has been reported to the Office of the Registrar, any request for a change in the grade shall be made by the instructor in charge of the course. A request for a change of grade must include an adequate statement of grounds on which it is made. The Committee on Examinations and Standing reviews all requests for changes of grade.

f. If a student so requests, an instructor should go over a student's examination paper with him or her so that the student may have a clearer idea of his or her strengths and weaknesses.

g. At the end of each term, the Office of the Registrar sends to each student a report of the student's final grades. Normally, another copy is sent to each student's parents.

h. The University considers the academic record of each student to represent highly personal information properly available for use within the University only by appropriate persons. For a full statement of the University's policies concerning the confidentiality of student records, see the "University Privacy Policy and Procedures" statement, available from the Office of the Secretary. Also see Section V.E. above.

7. RESCHEDULING OF FINAL EXAMINATIONS

a. The registrar, acting for the Committee on Examinations and Standing, may authorize a student to take an examination up to 24 hours before or after the scheduled examination time. Appropriate reasons for granting such requests are religious days, personal emergencies, and more than one examination scheduled in a single calendar day. Examinations will normally be rescheduled during the 24 hours after the scheduled examination time; examinations will be rescheduled during the 24-hour period before the regularly scheduled time only in the most unusual and compelling circumstances. In no such cases will a faculty member be required to administer the examination more than twice. This provision does not preclude additional administrations of an examination by the registrar or other responsible individuals designated by the registrar.

b. The Office of the Dean of the College, acting for the Committee on Examinations and Standing may authorize rescheduled final examinations beyond the 24-hour period on the basis of applications from individual students. (See The Undergraduate Announcement: Academic Regulations.) Responsibility for all arrangements connected with such examinations is taken by the Office of the Registrar. Postponed final examinations for the fall term courses will be scheduled during the third week of spring term classes, and for spring term courses, during the week preceding the beginning of the next fall term.

c. Final grades are normally reporting using the letters A, B, C, D, and F. Members of the Faculty may, at their discretion, report pluses and minuses with A's, B's, and C's. P's may be reported in courses offered exclusively on a pass/D/fail basis. (The Office of the Registrar will convert letter grades of C- or higher to P's in the case of individual students electing courses under the pass/D/fail option.) The A+ should be regarded as an exceptional grade reserved for work of extraordinary merit. A faculty member who awards the grade of A+ must submit to the Committee on Examinations and Standing a written report explaining how the student's course work or independent work meets the instructor's standards for truly outstanding work. A+ statements become a part of students' permanent records and will be made available to them as a matter of course. The statements may be reviewed by University committees making decisions about academic honors, awards, and prizes, and by administrators and faculty preparing institutional recommendations for applicants to medical school and institutional endorsements for candidates in national fellowship competitions.

d. When a postponed final examination has been authorized in a course, the Faculty member in charge of the course is notified of the fact and given a list of students who are entitled to take the examination. The instructor in charge prepares a question paper as soon as possible and sends it to the Office of the Registrar. At the same time the instructor informs the Office of the Registrar which member of the Faculty will read the completed examinations. If examinations are to be read by another member of the Faculty, the instructor in charge of the course provides a list of students expected to take the examination together with their grades in the course exclusive of the final examination.

e. Rescheduled final examinations are conducted under the supervision of the Committee on Examinations and Standing by the Office of the Registrar acting for the Committee.

f. Regular final grades are assigned to each student on the basis of the completed rescheduled examination. If not completed by the stipulated deadline, a failing grade is assigned to the examination and an appropriate final grade reported.

8. ACADEMIC WARNING

At the end of each academic term, the Committee on Examinations and Standing is responsible for issuing academic warnings to students whose records indicate either poor overall standing or particular weaknesses, e.g., in departmental independent work. Formal academic warnings are normally issued only at the end of a term. The record of a student who has received a warning will be reviewed by the Committee at the end of the following term, and its judgment reported to the student.

C. Departmental Concentration

1. A.B. CANDIDATES

a. Each program of concentration includes provision for a departmental examination (also known as a comprehensive examination) in the senior year. This examination provides opportunity to examine a student's ability to use knowledge intelligently. Departments determine whether to utilize written examinations, oral examinations, papers, or some appropriate combination thereof Departments may propose to the Committee on the Course of Study conditions under which a departmental examination will not be administered.

b. Departmental programs of concentration require a thesis, or several substantial essays, to be written during the two terms of senior year and to be submitted at a date to be specified by the department, in any case prior to the University deadline set by the Office of the Dean of the College.

c. If in the opinion of the department an extension of time for the submission of the thesis is clearly justified in any individual case, the department may grant a postponement to the University deadline. A postponement beyond that date may be authorized only by the Committee on Examinations and Standing, and only for compelling reasons.

d. Departments may set deadlines for the receipt of the paper(s) or independent reading project(s) constituting the independent work of junior year. However, junior independent work must be submitted no later than the deadline set for all written work of the term. A postponement beyond that date may be authorized only by the Committee on Examinations and Standing, and only for compelling reasons.

2. A.B. AND B.S.E. CANDIDATES

a. A department is under obligation to report to the Committee on Discipline a clear case of dishonest use of another's work in the senior thesis or any paper presented in connection with an independent program of study.

b. A copy of each senior thesis is permanently retained by the department and deposited in the Library.

c. The departmental standing of students is discussed in The Undergraduate Announcement Academic Standing.

d. At the close of each academic year departments certify to the Office of the Registrar, on report forms furnished for the purpose, the names and standing of those seniors who have satisfied requirements for the degree, and separately the names and standing of those who have failed to satisfy requirements.

e. For each senior who has failed to satisfy its requirements the department should send to the Office of the Dean of the College, for guidance in talking to the student, a confidential statement about the grounds for the failure as well as recommendation about whether and under what circumstances the student may attempt to qualify for the degree. These recommendations must be approved by the Committee on Examinations and Standing.

f. Honors are awarded at graduation by the various departments. See the current issue of The Undergraduate Announcement under the sections devoted to the Program of Study for the A.B. Degree end the Program of Study for the B.S.E. Degree.

D. Procedures for Setting Policy

The following are to be established policies in the making of decisions about the undergraduate course of study, and departmental Chairs shall be responsible for so informing the concentrators of their departments at the beginning of each academic year. However, any of these policies may be modified by agreement of the faculty and concentrators of a department, these modifications to remain in effect until changed by similar procedure.

1. In the election of student departmental committees, such committees and departmental Chairs shall be jointly responsible for adopting procedures that have these objectives:

a. It should be convenient for the students of the department to vote.

b. There should be an opportunity for any departmental student to place names in nomination.

c. It should be easy for relatively small groups of students to have a representative of their department's committee and difficult for an organized minority to capture a disproportionate share of committee positions.

d. There should be reasonable precautions against multiple balloting and reasonable measures to insure a fair count of the vote.

2. Student departmental committees shall be provided with a reasonable amount of secretarial assistance in preparing proposals, communicating with departmental majors, and conducting elections.

3. Departmental chairs shall be responsible for:

a. Referring all proposals for major changes in departmental undergraduate programs to their student committees before action on such proposals is taken by departmental faculties.

b. Inviting members of student committees to discuss proposals for major changes in departmental undergraduate programs with departmental faculties at or before any meetings in which departmental faculties take action on such proposals.

c. Scheduling at least two meetings each academic year with their student committees, one early in the fall term to work out plans for later consultation, and one in late spring to review departmental undergraduate offerings so that Chairs may take student views into account in preparing requests for new staff.

4. Student committees and faculty departmental committees concerned with the undergraduate program (in departments in which the latter sort of committee exists) shall normally meet jointly.

5. Student departmental committees have the following additional rights:

a. The right to attach comments, favorable or unfavorable, to all proposals forwarded by the faculties of their departments to the Committee on the Course of Study.

b. The right in certain circumstances to secure a departmental faculty's reconsideration of action taken on proposals regarding the course of study for undergraduate students. Specifically: Departmental faculties should seriously consider a second vote on any measure regarding the department's undergraduate program, when a second vote is requested by the student committee of the department. In any particular academic year departmental faculties should commit themselves to a second vote on such measures if a second vote is requested within one month by the student committee in a petition endorsed by two-thirds of the department's majors. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that the departmental faculty has rejected, a majority vote of the departmental faculty should reverse the previous decision. If the action being reconsidered is on a proposal that has been adopted by the departmental faculty, a two-thirds vote of the departmental faculty should be required to affirm the previous decision.

Departmental faculties should not be bound to reconsider the same action more than once in the same academic year.