Faculty Frequently Asked Questions
- Course Responsibilities
- Constructing a Syllabus
- Dropping and Adding Students
- Giving Exams
- Classroom Behavior
- Student Rights
- My Evaluation
Q. Where can I find out whether the course I'm teaching is required, is part of a major, is for freshmen and sophomores (lower-division), etc.?
A. Check the track sheets on the web or in the Department Office, college catalog, BSAC.
Q. What information should my syllabus include?
A. Refer to current syllabi on the web page of or a faculty member teaching the same course, ask in the department to see such a syllabus. The department can also refer you to an instructor currently teaching the same course.
Provide your students with a course description and learning objectives. The course description in the University Catalog is an excellent place to start, but elaborate on your particular approach to the course. Learning objectives are the four or five skills and areas of content that you want students to learn from the course.
Make grading requirements clear. Indicate which items will be graded, and what percentage weighting each item will receive when the overall course grade is determined at the end of the semester.
Describe graded items such as papers, projects, presentations, and the like, including your grading CRITERIA, so the students are aware of these in advance and can therefore attempt to meet them.
Provide due dates for graded items as early as possible in the semester, so students can schedule their work.
Q. How do I know what the course goals should be?
A. Check with the course coordinator or your department mentor.
Q. Do I have to use a certain textbook?
A. Check with the Chair, the course coordinator or the syllabi of other faculty.
In the Organization and Management Department, there are no textbooks that are required for a certain course. However, be sure to choose a book or books that will cover a significant amount of the material outlined in the catalog course description. It is inappropriate to teach material which has been designed into a different course, even if it just happens to be included in a textbook you adopt. Be sure to check the course description for related courses to see how various topics have been allocated across the courses.
Q. How do I order textbooks? Where do I get a copy for myself?
A. Student copies of textbooks are ordered on a form provided by the Spartan Bookstore. Your department keeps some on hand. The department has a list of publisher's representatives who can provide you with a copy of the book. You can order by telephone or by e-mail.
Q. How do I have a course pack of readings or cases duplicated for students to buy?
A. The Associated Students organization runs the AS Print Shop, which is located around the corner from the Market Place (across from the Student Union). Employees there will get copyright permissions, and make a table of contents and provide other options as well as sell students the course pack.
Q. Are there copyright laws I need to be aware of?
A. Yes. Refer to the material in the Department Faculty Handbook or in the information booklets provided by AS print shop.
Q. How much reading should I assign per week?
A. Check with the course coordinator or your Chair.
Q. How many assignments should I have for a semester?
A. As a guideline refer to current syllabi for the same course, your Department Chair or the course coordinator. The goal is to provide students multiple opportunities and methods for demonstrating their understanding of the material.
Q. Where do I find out the dates, including holidays, for the semester?
A. Check the Department Handbook or your on-line calendar under the Dean's Office web page.
Q. How do I order a film to show in class?
A. Call the Instructional Resource Center, the IRC, at 4-2888 with time, date, place and film number. Employees there will tell you how to use the equipment in your classroom to receive the transmission.
Q. How do I reserve a computer lab? How do I borrow a College laptop computer for a class?
A. For both, call Computing Services: 408-924-3451, Office: BC303.
Q. How many office hours am I supposed to have? Can I hold them in the classroom or online instead of in my office?
A. Please refer to the University policy on office ours found here (pdf).
Q. Can I require students to type their homework?
Q. Can I assume students have access to a computer and require them to do assignments online?
A. Yes. The college provides computer labs for students without other access to computer.
Q. Can I schedule a trip to the library and have a librarian teach the students how to research a certain subject?
A. Yes. Call the COB librarian Sandra Belanger at 4-2719 to make an appointment.
Q. How do I get my finished syllabus on the Web?
A. Check with your department at...provides Front Page for everyone to load, and a binder with text and visual instructions on how to create a home page, and syllabus and post course documents. You can also contact the webmaster for help, or Prabha Chandrasekar for help with WebCT.
Dropping and Adding Students
Q. How many students should I add?
A. Certainly no more than the room holds. Bus. 100W should have no more than 25; Bus. 189, no more than 35. You are not obliged to add more than the course maximum indicated on the roster, but you are expected to add up to the maximum if there is student demand for the course.
Q. How should I choose who gets to add?
A. Graduating Seniors have priority. Students from open university, those on academic renewal who are repeating the course should be last on the list. Some instructors do a lottery.
Q. During the drop/add period, I know I can drop a student who doesn't attend class. Can I drop a student for any other reason?
Q. Can I drop a student after the drop deadline has passed?
Q. Is it okay to have someone proctor an exam for me?
A. ONLY with permission from the Chair. Finals: NO.
Q. Must I give a final exam?
A. Exceptions are granted by the chair with final approval coming from the Dean.
Q. How do I know the date and time it is scheduled for?
A. The Schedule of Classes lists exam times.
Q. Can I count on students in an early section of the course not to tell students in a later section of the course what's on an exam?
Furthermore, counting on ALL students in a tightly packed classroom to avoid looking at a test or answer sheet that may only be located a mere six inches away is also naive. It is fairest to use different tests for different sections, to use multiple versions of the same test in each section, and to actively observe students while they are taking an exam. Note that copies of tests, and notes on test answers are likely to be retained on file in student living groups or friendship groups for the benefit of future students.
If you have questions concerning academic dishonesty and how to deal with it, contact the Chief Judicial Affairs Officer at (408) 924-5900. It is advisable to do this PRIOR to making your own judgement calls on how to deal formally with such a situation. For the sake of sanctioning repeat offenders, you are urged to report every instance of cheating that you know about even if you choose to have the judicial officer take no action.
Q. How much time does the department staff need to duplicate an exam or a handout?
A. 7 days.
Q. How many A's should I be assigning?
A. None, if no one deserves it. Your evaluation methods should be discriminating enough that all students do not earn A's. Beyond these extremes, it is difficult to generalize. Keep in mind, however, that C means "average". It makes sense that many students in most courses would be performing at an average level.
Q. Should I curve grades?
A. It is mathematically unsound unless you have a sample population in the course.
Q. When should I assign an I (incomplete) vs. an F (failure)?
A. An incomplete is assigned if the student is significantly through the course, is earning a passing grade, and has only a minimal amount of work to complete; it is usually given in emergency cases where the student misses a final or project due to dire circumstances. If the student has simply failed to complete the work or has failed to complete it at a minimum level of competence, an F is appropriate. Students who have stopped attending the course but whose names appear on the grade sheet should be assigned a U for unauthorized withdrawal.
Q. Do students have to maintain a minimum grade level?
Q. What should I do if a student pressures me about a grade?
A. Explain your policy and ignore the pressure.
Q. Am I allowed to downgrade papers that are late?
Q. Can I throw out the lowest grade?
A. Yes, if you wish to.
Q. Can I make the final exam optional.?
A. Not unless you have written permission from the Chair and Dean of the College with an acceptable replacement - project or presentations.
Q. Should I be grading students on their writing or speaking abilities as well as on the particular content of the course?
Q. Are there tutoring services available to students taking the course I'm teaching?
A. Yes. There are several services:
You may be eligible to take LLD 98 Applied Grammar and/or 99 Grammar for Writes. These
two courses are designed especially to assist students in improving their writing
skills and pass the WST.
The English Department offers Engl 096 Grammar, Punctuation, and Style, a course focused on teaching studnets concise, correct English.
For help in oral communications, Communication Studies offers not only Comm 020N Public Speaking for the Nonnative speaker but also a one-credit laboratory Comm 080 that can include a workshop on accent reduction.
Outside of SJSU, students can, of course, register for adult education courses offered at many local high schools or register for courses at community colleges.
Second, a new service:
Recognizing that some students speak and hear very little English outside of the classroom, COB is beginning an Intensive English program during spring 2001. Eligible students have been invited to apply.
Third, tutoring services:
COB operated a Tutoring Center, located in BC 008. Tutors are available to assist students writing problems. Students say the computer program AllWrite available there is an excellent tool to learn or review the rules of English usage.
SJSU has a tutoring center, located in the Student Services Center on Ninth and San Fernando streets, where tutors can provide assistance
Q. What's the policy on extra credit?
A. You can offer it or not, as you prefer.
Q. How do I change a grade after my grades have been submitted for the semester?
A. Fill out a Change of grade form, available in the Department office.
Q. Is there a time limit for making the change?
Q. Under what conditions can I change a student's grade after the grades have been submitted?
A. Grades can be changed only if a clerical mistake was made.
Q. Should I encourage students who aren't passing the course to withdraw?
A. Your course requirements and your expectations should be listed in your syllabus and emphasized in early classes so students understand what is expected of them in the beginning. The University approves late drop only for compelling reasons; failing a course is not considered a compelling reason.
Q. What should I do if I think a student is cheating?
A. Discuss the issue with the student. Report the issue to the university's Judicial Officer at 4-5900. You have the right to fail the student on that assignment or even for the course. (The department office can provide you with a copy of the Dishonesty Policy.
Q. Who can request summer teaching?
A. All faculty, part and full time. Speak with the department chair by early spring when schedules are constructed.
Q. Who is eligible for a summer grant?
A. Full-time faculty may apply for summer grants on a competitive basis.
Q. Who is eligible for lottery grants that the University provides?
A. All faculty, part and full time.
Q. Is there any way I can get a student to do a project for me?
A. Yes. Ask your department for the student & faculty Woelffel forms. After both have been completed, return them to the Dean's Office. Most requests can be accomodated.
Q. Are there any projects students are not allowed to do?
A. Students cannot grade exams or projects that count as a significant portion of the grade. They cannot proctor final exams.
Q. What elections can part-time faculty participate in?
A. Most by percentage of time taught: FAR/SSI, Academic Senate election, Chair Review Committee.
Q. Are part-time faculty expected to attend departmental meetings?
A. Yes, if they can make them. They are definitely invited.
Q. Are part-time faculty allowed to hold committee membership?
A. Yes, but they aren't required to. Some committees may be restricted to tenured faculty.
Q. What qualifies part-time lecturers for a raise?
A. Completing 24 WTU's. When you have taught 24 units, they should inform the Chair.
Q. What's the general wisdom on the best use of classroom time?
A. Use class time for activities, explanations, etc. that cannot be learned by students on their own. For example, don't read students the textbook.
Q. How many breaks should I give in a three-hour class?
A. The normal break for a night class of 2-1/2 hours is 15 minutes, somewhere fairly near the middle of the class. A single night class of 2-1/2 hours (plus a 15 minute break) is equivalent to two day classes of 1-1/4 hours each.
Q. How much control do faculty have over students who eat, enter the classroom late, leave after the break, etc.?
A. Faculty control the classroom. If they will not allow students to enter late, they shoud indicate this rule on the greensheet and announce it in class.
Q. What does the faculty member do if a student is eating or drinking something in the classroom building?
A. Tell the student to put the food away or take it outside the building.
Q. Are faculty allowed to bring a cup of coffee, etc. to drink in the Business Classroom Building?
A. No, water only.
Q. Can I control cell phones?
A. Yes, make an announcement that they must be turned off. It is a good idea to include this information on the greensheet as well.
Q. If students are whispering while I'm lecturing, what should I do?
A. Ask them to cease. If they don't, ask them to leave.
Q. Is it okay to let a class out early?
A. Now and then, yes. If faculty find themselves doing this regularly, they should reconsider their use of class time in educating students.
Q. Should I take attendance?
A. It is not required. In fact, University policy expressly prohibits taking attendance as a basis for grading. However, if "class participation" is chosen as one of the items being graded in a course, it is fair to remind students that "participation is not possible if they are not present in class." Grade on participation, not attendance.
Q. What should faculty do if they think a student is drunk or on drugs?
A. Call UPD. Dial 911 on a classroom phone. If the student is not disruptive, the faculty member may prefer to confront the student individually, recommending SJSU counselling services.
Q. What should I do if a student has a medical emergency in class?
A. Call UPD. Dial 911 on a classroom phone.
Q. Is it okay to give one student the phone number or email address of another?
A. Not without the student's permission.
Q. What is faculty's role in the case of a fire or earthquake?
A. Faculty are responsible for instructions to their classes. Evacuate students from the building in case of fire or an earthquake. Each semester guidelines for emergency procedures are distributed to faculty. Ask the department for a copy.
Q. What do faculty do if their car breaks down on their way to class?
A. Call the Department Office or UPD (924-2222).
Q. What do faculty do if they are sick and have to cancel class?
A. Call the Department. If they have an e-mail distribution of their class, they shoud notify students.
Q. What do faculty do the same thing if they know in advance they won't be able to make a class?
A. Notify the Department and students. Consider showing a film, or having a guest speaker in.
Q. Where can faculty see a copy of the Student Opinion of Teaching Effectiveness (SOTE) form on which students will evaluate the course at the end of the semester?
A. Department office.
Q. What SOTE scores are considered excellent?
A. 4 and above.
Q. What is the minimum SOTE score necessary to be rehired?
A. There is no minimum. Rehiring is at the discretion of the Department Chair based on all available information. If faculty wish to explain scores that may indicate poor teaching, they should contact the Chair.
Q. Do faculty need to have the SOTEs administered in all their classes?
A. Yes, except that tenured, full professors are required to evaluate only two courses per year.
Q. Is performance on the SOTEs the primary factor in faculty evaluation? Will good or excellent SOTEs be sufficient for a positive evaluation of performance?
A. No, SOTEs are not the primary evaluative tool. Discuss evaluation with the Chair of the department.
Q. If SOTEs are not the only factor used to evaluate my performance, what other factors are used?
A. As peer evaluations, grading standards, use of sufficient writing assignment, difficulty of exams and assignments, faculty tardiness or absenteeism, and course content are all examined.
Q. If faculty know things aren't going well in the middle of the semester, is there anyone they can talk to?
A. Department mentor, Department Chair, faculty member in the Institute for Teaching & Learning (ITL) at 924-3067.