No Weekend Homework Policy Syllabus

Course Policies and Statements

We encourage you to add the policies below to your syllabus (many of which are recommended by the CMU Faculty Senate). Under each policy, you will find a paragraph with prompts and suggestions, followed by one or more samples.

Academic integrity

One of the most important things you can do to promote your students’ academic integrity is to make it clear in your syllabus that you value academic honesty (and why). This naturally conveys that you take cheating and plagiarism seriously but does so from a positive perspective. In addition, it is important to explicitly define what behavior is and is not permissible in your class because these details often change from class to class and from instructor to instructor.

As you write your course policy, make sure to:

  1. Motivate the policy in terms of the positive dimensions of academic integrity (i.e. this is about enhancing your education and being a trusted member of the CMU community).
  2. Provide links to the University Policy on Academic Integrity and to the general student resource.
  3. Explain what is and is not permitted with respect to collaboration and/or outside assistance for each type of graded work in your course. Note that university policy is that no collaboration is allowed unless specifically permitted by a course instructor, so be sure to highlight where and how your policy departs from the default.
  4. Explain procedures for student acknowledgement of collaboration and/or assistance, when they submit graded work. Note that university policy states that assistance from campus resources (Academic Development, the Global Communication Center, and the Academic Resource Center at CMU-Q) is permitted and nothing else; as course instructor, you can choose to specify alternative boundaries for acceptable and unacceptable assistance. Just be sure to give students a method for reporting collaboration and assistance.

Sample 1: Academic Integrity

Any work that you submit should be your own work (i.e., not borrowed/copied from any other source, including our assigned readings and your classmates). When using other people’s ideas to substantiate your own, please properly cite the original source. We will review proper citation procedures in class, and you should ask for clarification whenever needed. I encourage you to rely on your classmates’ online posts posts – especially their primary sources – when writing your final paper, but you should be expressing your own ideas and not theirs.

Any act of cheating or plagiarism will be treated in accordance with Carnegie Mellon’s Policy on Academic Integrity, which can be found here: Depending upon the individual violation, students could face penalties ranging from failing the assignment to failing the class.

Sample 2: Academic Integrity

Honesty and transparency are important features of good scholarship. On the flip side, plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses with serious consequences. If you are discovered engaging in either behavior in this course, you will earn a failing grade on the assignment in question, and further disciplinary action may be taken.

For a clear description of what counts as plagiarism, cheating, and/or the use of unauthorized sources, please see the University’s Policy on Academic Integrity (revised in April 2013): Integrity.htm

I encourage you to work together on homework assignments and to make use of campus resources like Academic Development, the Global Communication Center, and the Intercultural Communication Center to assist you in your pursuit of academic excellence. However, please note that in accord with the university’s policy you must acknowledge any collaboration or assistance that you receive on work that is to be graded: so when you turn in a homework assignments, please include a sentence at the end that says either:

  1. “I worked alone on this assignment.”, or
  2. “I worked with ______

Sample 3: Academic Integrity

[Adapted from a Modern Language class] Integrity.htm

Sample 4: Academic Honesty & Rules of Collaboration

      Sample 5: Acceptable/Unacceptable Collaboration

      [Excerpted from Fundamental Data Structures and Algorithms]

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          Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

          Providing appropriate accommodations to students with documented disabilities is a requirement of federal law. Using our sample policy verbatim is a safe and easy approach. If you want to write your own policy on accommodations for students with disabilities, please be sure to include Catherine Getchell’s contact information and an assurance that you will work with students to accommodate their needs. 

          Sample 1: Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

          If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at 

          Sample 2: Statement of Support for Students’ Health & Well-being

          Take care of yourself.  Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

          All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

          If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

          [Optional additional language]
          If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:

          CaPS: 412-268-2922
          Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226
          If the situation is life threatening, call the police
          On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
          Off campus: 911

          If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know. Thank you, and have a great semester.

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          Support for Students' Well-Being

          Your syllabus can send a positive signal of your support for students' learning and well-being by including a section with recommendations and encouragement for students to take care of themselves and seek help when they need it. This section can also provide students with important information for getting help, including direct links and contact information for support services. And, if you feel so inclined, this section is also a place to directly invite students to reach out to you when they have questions or need help.

          Sample 1: Take care of yourself

          Take care of yourself.  Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

          All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

          If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at  Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.


          If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:

          CaPS: 412-268-2922

          Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

          If the situation is life threatening, call the Police:

                On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323

                Off campus: 911

          If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know.

          Sample 2: Take Care of Yourself

          Take care of yourself.  Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep, and taking time to relax. Despite what you might hear, using your time to take care of yourself will actually help you achieve your academic goals more than spending too much time studying.

          All of us benefit from support and guidance during times of struggle. There are many helpful resources available on campus. An important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Take the time to learn about all that’s available and take advantage of it. Ask for support sooner rather than later – this always helps.

          If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or difficult feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for assistance connecting to the support that can help. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here for you: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at  Over 25% of students reach out to CaPS some time during their time at CMU.

          If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call someone immediately, day or night:

          CaPS: 412-268-2922

          Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

          If the situation is life threatening, call the Police:

          •       On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
          •       Off campus: 911
          Contributed by Kasey Creswell and adapted by Kurt Kumler and others on the
          Task Force on the CMU Experience.

          Sample 3: Healthy Balance

          Universities are in general vibrant communities, places of tremendous vitality and richness that offer abundant opportunities for meaningful work and play. This abundance brings with it the challenge of maintaining a healthy, balanced life – a life characterized by productive tension among such competing needs as work and play, sleep and wakefulness, solitude and sociability. All members of university communities – students, staff, and faculty – have the responsibility to promote balance in their lives by making thoughtful choices.

          Balanced choices flow from an understanding that human flourishing requires the fulfillment of very real physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.

          Balanced choices flow from an understanding that failure is part of the road to success in all endeavors, whether academic, extracurricular, or social. The diligent pursuit of success in the long term will not preclude failures in the short term. Conversely, unrealistic expectations of success in the short term can compromise both health and long-term success if basic human needs are neglected.

          Balanced decision-making flows from an understanding that short-term imbalances are inevitable. Short-term decisions must respond to immediate context, but those decisions are forming longer-term patterns of healthfulness. Balance requires an ability to discern how long an imbalance may safely persist.

          Balance results from two skills: avoiding imbalance through careful planning, and managing and containing imbalance when it occurs.

          From John Paul Ito's website

          Sample 4: Basic Mental Health

          As a student, you may experience a range of challenges that can interfere with learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, substance use, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may diminish your academic performance and/or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. CMU services are available, and treatment does work. You can learn more about confidential mental health services available on campus at: Support is always available (24/7) from Counseling and Psychological Services: 412-268-2922.

          Adapted from University of Alaska Anchorage

          Sample 5: Signs and Resources

          The CMU community is committed to and cares about all students. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health problems can help you or others to consider seeking care that can help. These are some signs that may be reason for concern:

          1. Feeling hopelessness, worthlessness, depressed, angry or guilt
          2. Withdrawal from friends, family and activities that used to be fun
          3. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
          4. Feeling tired or exhausted all of the time
          5. Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering or making decisions
          6. Restlessness, irritability, agitation or anxious movements or behaviors
          7. Neglect of personal care
          8. Reckless or impulsive behaviors (e.g., drinking or using drugs excessively or being unsafe in other ways)
          9. Persistent physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain) that do not respond to routine treatment
          10. Thoughts about death or suicide*

          Treatment for mental health problems is effective. More information and resources are located at Immediate support is always available (24/7): 412-268-2922.

          * CaPS: 412-268-2922

          Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

          If the situation is life threatening, call the Police:

          •    On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
          •    Off campus: 911

          Adapted from University of Alaska Anchorage

          Sample 6: Personal Investment

          Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance. CMU provides mental health services to support the academic success of students. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) offers free, confidential services to help you manage personal challenges. In the event I suspect you need additional support, I will express my concerns and the reasons for them, and remind you of campus resources (e.g., CaPS, Dean of Students, etc.) that might be helpful to you. It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available. Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do --for yourself and for those who care about you.

          Adapted from University of Alaska Anchorage

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          Use of Laptops and Mobile Devices in Class

          Different instructors have different comfort levels regarding students’ use of electronics in class. A policy on laptops and mobile devices should communicate clearly to students what your expectations are and motivate those choices in terms of students’ learning. 


          As research on learning shows, unexpected noises and movement automatically divert and capture people's attention, which means you are affecting everyone’s learning experience if your cell phone, pager, laptop, etc. makes noise or is visually distracting during class.

          For this reason, I [insert the language that aligns with your sentiments]

          • ask you to turn off your mobile devices and close your laptops during class.
          • allow you to take notes on your laptop, but you must turn the sound off so that you do not disrupt other students' learning. If you are doing anything other than taking notes on your laptop, please sit in the back row so that other students are not distracted by your screen. 

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          Grading Policies

          Describe to your students your grading and re-grading policies. How many points are they eligible to earn if their work is late? What is the process to ask for an assessment to be re-graded? How will group work be assessed?

          Sample 1: Flexible Grading policy

          [George Duncan, Heinz School]

          Evaluation of Student Performance

          Students are expected to attend lectures and workshops, participate in class, complete memorandum reports on time, and take the examinations.  There will be one term examination and one final examination for each mini semester course.  There will be weekly assignments due.  These evaluative requirements allow the student to perform data analysis in two different circumstances; memorandum reports provide less structured problems with lax (1 week) time constraints.

          All scores on exams and assignments will be based on 100 points.  The final grade for each term will be determined by a formula chosen at the beginning of each mini semester by each student subject to the following constraints.

          • Class Participation                                                     5% - 15%
          • Memorandum Reports and Problem Sets                    15% - 30%
          • Midterm Exam                                                         15% - 30%
          • Final Exam                                                              30% - 50%
            • Total Percentage Must Be 100

          Final grades will be balanced between prior criteria and the Heinz School guideline grade distribution.  The following table specifies both the prior criteria, by the relationships between the numeric score resulting from the formula and the letter grade assigned, and the guideline grade distribution.  Discretion in balancing prior criteria and the grade distribution remains the prerogative of the instructor.  (Quality points refer to the Heinz School nine point grading scale.)

          Sample 2: Group Assessment

          [Frenkel Terhofstede, Tepper School of Business]

          A Model for Group Assessment

          “Free Rider” Problem.  In the business world you live and die by the results of your team as a whole.  We prefer to give a single grade to all members of a group, but understand they there may be substantial “outlier” behavior by particular group members.  Within 4 days after handing in the final report, hand in a peer evaluation form rating the contribution of each team member.  I expect that 90 percent of these memos will not lead to major changes in grades.  However, if there appears to be consensus that one group member did not pull his or her weight (or alternatively, that one member was crucial to the team’s success) I will adjust an individual’s project grade up or down according to the peer evaluation from.  Please be fair in rating others. A copy of the peer evaluation form is attached to the course packet (see Appendix 1) and can be downloaded from the course website.

          Sample 3: Late work and re-grading

          [Example from History Class]

          Flex Days/Late Work

          Due dates for every assignment are provided on the course syllabus and course schedule (and posted in Canvas). Unless otherwise stated, assignments are due on those days. However, I recognize that sometimes “life happens.” In these instances, you may use your allotted two flex days. These days allow you to submit an assignment up to two days late without penalty. You can use these days for any assignment and for any reason. You do not need to provide me with the reason: simply email me and tell me how many of your flex days you would like to use.

          Once you’ve exhausted your flex days, then point deductions will occur for any assignment submitted after the deadline. An assignment submitted 24 hours of the due date will only be eligible for 80% of the maximum number of point allotted. Assignments submitted more than 24 hours after the due date will not be accepted. If you experience extenuating circumstances (e.g., you are hospitalized) that prohibit you from submitting your assignments on time, please let me know. I will evaluate these instances on a case-by-case basis.

          Re-grade Policy

          If you would like me to review a graded assignment, I am more than willing to do so. All requests for re-grades must be submitted within one week of the graded assignments being returned. After requesting a re-grade, please schedule an appointment with me to discuss your assignment and grade. Please allow me a minimum of 48 hours between your request for a re-grade and our meeting. Exceptions to this policy may apply in the case of the final perspective paper due to deadlines for CMU grade submissions. 

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          Student Recording of Class

          If you do not want your classroom activities recorded, you should explicitly include this policy in your course syllabus with a reminder for students with disabilities that they may request accommodations with the Office of Disability Resources. If you want to allow students to record classroom activities for their personal educational use, you may still restrict further dissemination beyond members of the class.

          Sample 1: No Recording

          No student may record any classroom activity without express written consent from me.  If you have (or think you may have) a disability such that you need to record or tape classroom activities, you should contact the Office of Disability Resources to request an appropriate accommodation.

          Sample 2: Recording Allowed for Personal Educational Use

          Classroom activities may be recorded by a student for the personal, educational use of that student or for all students presently enrolled in the class only, and may not be further copied, distributed, published or otherwise used for any other purpose without the express written consent of [insert name of faculty member].  All students are advised that classroom activities may be taped by students for this purpose.


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          Attendance and Participation Policy

          To convey the importance of attendance and how attendance/participation contributes to the final grade, include this policy in your syllabus.

          A statement regarding how many class sessions a student is permitted to miss, including information regarding point deduction for absences (if applicable). 

          1. Frame your policy in a positive way, highlighting the value of attendance and participation for student learning
          2. Outline the circumstances in which an absence would be excused (e.g., religious holiday, college team event, medical or family emergency, etc.), and how unexcused absences will affect the final grade
          3. Explain how and when students should notify you of an absence.
          4. Clearly articulate your expectations around class participation and explain how participation will be assessed as well as how it will contribute to the final grade. A useful rule of thumb: Whenever class participation is worth more than 10% of the final grade, use a rubric for grading and feedback, and share it with students in advance.

          Sample 1: Attendance and Participation

          [Adapted from Frenkel Terhofstede, Tepper School of Business]

          Class Presence and Participation. Class presence and participation points are given to encourage your active class participation and discussion.  You will be rewarded with a perfect score as long as you frequently come to class and actively contribute to the class discussion during recitations and lectures.

          Presence:  Although it is not required, most students send their professor a brief e-mail to explain their absence in advance.  Students who repeatedly arrive late to the lecture or recitation will be eligible for 80% of the participation grade.  Please sign the attendance sheet when you come to the class.  Any false signatures will result in zero participation grades for all parties involved.

          Participation:  We will devote one entire session to the case discussion.  The instructor’s role during a case discussion is that of a moderator.  When the cases are discussed, we are less concerned with “right” or “wrong” answers than we are with thoughtful contributions which follow the discussion and either add to the debate or move it in a new direction.  If you find it uncomfortable to speak up in class, we encourage you to visit your professor in office hours and work on this skill.

          Sample 2: Attendance and Participation

          [Example from a history class]

          Within the first week of our course, please look ahead and see if you need to miss class for any excusable reason (religious observance, job interview, university-sanctioned event, etc.) and notify me as soon as possible. We may be able to make alternative arrangements for completing assignments. Everyone is permitted one absence without the deduction of points. If you do not use this absence, then the extra points you earn will be added to your lowest score when computing your final grade (i.e., extra credit). If there are extenuating circumstances that require you to miss more than one class session, please come and discuss this issue with me in advance of your absence(s).

          Sample 3: General Course Expectations 

          [Example from Mathematical Sciences]

          Finally, the following guidelines will create a comfortable and productive learning environment throughout the semester.

          You can expect me:

          • To start and end class on time.
          • To reply to e-mails within 24 hours on weekdays and 48 hours on weekends.
          • To assign homework that adequately covers the material and meets the learning objectives of the course while adhering to the time expectations for a 9 unit course.
          • To give exams that accurately reflect the material covered in class and assigned in homework.

          I can expect you:

          • To come to class on time.
          • To be attentive and engaged in class.
          • To refrain from using laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices during class.
          • To spend an adequate amount of time on the homework each week, making an effort to solve and understand each problem.
          • To engage with both the abstract and computational sides of the material.
          • To seek help when appropriate.

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          Study Tips

          We encourage you to share a set of study tips with your class. Consider addressing questions such as:

          1. What should students do to succeed in class?
          2. What help can they expect to get during office hours or by email?
          3. Can you provide a rationale (potentially even backed by research) for why your advice should work?

          In addition, at the end of the semester you can ask your students what study strategies helped them and then incorporate this input into your next set of study tips, explicitly stating that some tips came from former students of this class.

          Sample 1: Study Tips

          [From Joel Greenhouse, Statistics]

          Study Tips for Stats 201 or How to Use Your Study Time More Efficiently

          1. Read your lecture notes over within 24 hours of lecture (or at least once before the next lecture).
            • Highlight or make marginal notes for important words or concepts. This will help fix ideas and will help you to actively learn the material.  This review takes about 20-30 minutes and really yields a large return.
            • Re-do examples yourself, step by step, with pencil and paper. Examples often look easy when explained in class, but often turn out to be much harder when you do them yourself.
            • Write down questions about things you do not understand. Bring these questions to lecture, lab, and to office hours and ask them.
          2. Readings are assigned for each class.  Read them - if not before the class for which they are assigned then certainly after that class and before the next.  Also, as you read, highlight, re-work examples yourself, and write down questions, as suggested above.
          3. DO HOMEWORK PROBLEMS.  Actively doing problems is the only way to learn the material.  Exam questions will be similar to homework problems.
            • Start early. Do not leave assignments until the night before they are due.
            • Try doing the problems yourself before discussing them with other people.
          4. Use office hours productively.  Ask thoughtful questions about things that you do not understand.  In other words, if you do (1)-(3) above, it will be much easier to isolate what is giving you trouble.  Please take advantage of the availability of office hours.
          5. Review solutions to assignments and exams.  Just because you do not lose points on a homework question does not necessarily mean you fully understand the question and answer.  Also, the solutions should serve as a model for how to write, using proper sentences and paragraphs, discussions and interpretations of data analyses.
          6. We will make every effort to help you learn the course material, but you must also make an effort to utilize the resources that are made available to help you.  Please come talk to us – not only when you are having trouble but also when things are going well.

          Sample 2: Where to get Course help

          [Used in Computer Science]

          How to Get Help

          Since the teaching staff for this class is large, you might wonder who you should see about what.  Here are some general guidelines.

          • Clarifications on the homework: If the question does not give away any of the solution, you should post the question on the course discussion bulletin board.  Simply click on the Communication button and follow the link to the Discussion Board.  If you have the question, probably someone else in the class does too, so posting to the bboard will help everybody.  The course staff reads the bulletin board regularly and will try to answer your question as soon as possible.  It is also possible that a fellow student will have the answer and can respond.  If the question requires giving away part of the solution, send one of the TA’s email or see one of the course staff during office hours.
          • You need help on the homework or class material:  Talk with the member of the course staff in the cluster, send one of the TAs or instructors email, or see any of the TAs or instructors during their office hours.  Please don’t feel intimidated about going to office hours.  We are all here to help you.
          • Questions about your grade on a homework: See (or send email to) the TA in charge of the assignment.  Your recitation instructor will know which TA is in charge of which assignment.
          • Questions about your grade on a quiz or test: See your recitation instructor. You can send email or come by during office hours.
          • The course is taking too much of your time: This course is supposed to take, on average, 12 hours per week.  If on average you are spending significantly more than this, we want to know.  Please send one of the instructors an email message telling them.  Sometimes it is hard for us to judge the difficulty of an assignment and your message lets us know when there is a problem.
          • General academic questions: The course staff is happy to answer general academic questions, such as “is it worth it for me to take 15-212?” You should catch one of us after class or recitation, or see us during office hours.

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          Statement about Units

          You may want to include a statement explaining to students how many total hours of work you expect them to do per week in your course. If applicable, include lab and recitation sections in your calculations. (For full semester courses, the number of units should, on average, equal the total number of hours students spend on your course – both in and out of class. For mini-semester courses, the conversion from units to number of hours per week involves multiplying by 2, i.e., a 6-unit mini should take, on average, 12 hours of work per week in the mini.)

          Sample 1: Mini-Class in History

          Units and Quality Points

          Carnegie Mellon has adopted the method of assigning a number of “units” for each course to represent the quantity of work required of students. For the average student, one unit represents one work-hour of time per week throughout the semester. The number of units in each course is fixed by the faculty member in consultation with the college offering the course. Three units are the equivalent of one traditional semester credit hour.

          Hence, a 9 unit semester-long course should require 9 hours of student engagement, on average, including class time; if the instructor requires 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of recitation, they can expect students to spend 5 hours outside of class engaging in class work. For mini courses that run for only seven weeks, the conversion from units to number of hours per week during the mini involves multiplying by 2. For example, a 6 unit mini course should on average involve 12 hours of student engagement; if the instructor requires 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab, they can expect the students to spend 6 hours outside of class.


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          General Guidelines

          This class will be a challenging class, and operates under the assumption that you are serious graduate students. I'll attempt to treat you with dignity and respect ... if you feel you're being mistreated in some way, please let me know how you feel! In exchange for being treated as people worthy of respect, I have certain expectations, and policies.

          I don't take attendance in class ... I'm assuming that you can make your own decisions about class attendance and how it might influence your performance. I expect you to arrive on time for class and I'll dismiss the class on time. I don't want food or drink in the classroom, and if you engage in disruptive behavior (e.g., having a conversation during a lecture), you'll be asked to leave. Clearly, you're responsible for anything presented or assigned in class. Should you be absent, it's up to you (a) to obtain assignments and lecture materials from classmates and/or me, and (b) to make up anything missed. There will be no acceptable excuses for failing to make up anything missed as a result of your absence.

          Each class session will usually have two parts: a lecture, perhaps at the start of class, and a map discussion (see below). Given the limited time in class, those who are leading the map discussion should be prepared prior to the beginning of class ... there will be very little time available for preparation during the class time.


          Grades are determined by averaging scores and weighting the average in each of the following categories, according to the following:

          1. homework - 30%
          2. exams and quizzes - 25% (80% exams + 20% quizzes)
          3. class participation - 25%
          4. term project - 20%

          Extra credit problems will be offered occasionally ... these count as a "free" homework problem (any points earned will be added to the total for homework, but will NOT be included in the denominator when averaging the homework scores). Extra credit problems will be challenging and subjected to rigorous grading (including the "core dumping" policy described below). They'll be "due" no later than the last day of class, but can be turned in anytime prior to that.

          Since this is a graduate-level course, my policy regarding grades is simple: at the start of the course, everyone has a "B" ... you'll earn any grade you get, including keeping your "B" by the end of the term. Class attendance will not have any direct impact on your scores, but missing class and thereby doing badly on exams and homework (and, of course, class participation!) is going to result in a poor grade! I'll inform any student in danger of getting a "C" or worse about their situation as soon as possible ... if you don't hear from me, it's safe to assume that you're performing at a "B" level or better.

          Some "curving" of the grades is expected, but if no one is doing well enough overall to deserve an "A", the top of the curve might be set at a lower level. I'll give the benefit of any doubt to those who participate frequently, and to those who show improvement.

          I'll make an attempt to provide "answers" to all homework and exams/quizzes. Some open-ended questions may not have simple answers, of course, but I'l suggest what I was looking for in such cases. I'm much less concerned with whether or not you got what I was looking for in any answer than I am about the process by which you arrived at your answer. Obviously, that means you should be careful to show your work and/or explain clearly from where your answers came.

          If reading assignments are made, I expect them to be undertaken right away. Pop quizzes may well be administered if I have any doubts about the accomplishment of the reading assignments.



          I like to give homework problems. Since I don't waste my class time with deriving equations, you will be expected to know the derivations, or you'll be working on them at home. Some homework will be my way of "answering" your questions during class. You should begin understanding how to answer your own questions whenever possible. If you don't ask questions during class (to avoid getting homework, or for any other reason), you'll be getting a low class participation score (see below). I don't require that homework be done on a computer or whatever. Handwritten homework will be acceptable, but it should be neat and legible; I don't intend to work hard to read your chicken scratches ... if I can't read something, I'll consider it missing and your score will reflect that absence. I'll neither encourage nor discourage working together on homework, but working on homework together with your classmates will not be considered cheating. It's up to you to decide how much of your work should be your own; if you depend on someone else to get you through the homework, you probably will do poorly whenever you have to depend on what you've learned (e.g., exams). Going to someone outside of the class for help (including the Internet), however, will be considered cheating.

          Exams and quizzes

          There will be three scheduled exams:

          1. an in-class, closed-book, one-hour written exam;
          2. a take-home exam (probably over a weekend) to be done strictly on your own (no in-class cooperation); and
          3. a 30 minute oral exam.

          Don't bother asking me what is going to be covered on each exam, or what you are responsible for; you always are responsible for everything that has been covered or assigned -- and expected to be able to use what has been discussed in class to solve problems and answer questions.

          Make-ups for missed exams can be arranged, and there will be no problem with make-ups, especially if you have let me know you are going to miss the exam beforehand. Should you have an unanticipated problem that forces you to miss an exam without letting me know in advance, be prepared to document the reason why you missed the exam. I will not allow make-ups in case of undocumented absences from exams.

          Unannounced quizzes will be given whenever I feel like it, but especially when I think assignments are not being done or folks are skipping out on class. No make-ups will be offered for missed quizzes.

          Unless someone is foolish enough to insist on having a final exam (I do not recommend insisting on it!), the term project will substitute for the final.

          Class participation

          My lecture style involves asking a lot of questions during the class. I expect everyone to chime in and attempt to answer the questions. Being wrong is nowhere near as bad for your grade as being silent. Be aware that if you don't know the answer to a question and are trying to be inconspicuous to avoid being called upon, that makes you conspicuous. If you have questions or think I've made a mistake, I expect you to have your hand in the air asking your question or making your critical comment. During map discussions (see below), when you're not leading the discussion, I expect you to be able to ask hard questions and make critical comments. If you're leading the discussion and receive a critical comment, I expect you to react constructively, not defensively. This is a graduate class in a scientific subject, and being able to criticize and to accept criticism (both constructively) is an important capability.

          Term Project

          You'll do a term project in this course, preferably one of your own choosing. You must get my approval to begin the project. It's not a good strategy to begin your term project just before the end of the semester. You'll be far better off if you approach the term project by doing a little bit each week, instead of trying to cram it all in at the end. When you've completed the project, a written report is expected; no term project report will be accepted that

          • is handwritten, or
          • exceeds 15 pages of double-spaced typed text (not including references and captions), or
          • includes more than 10 figures

          The project will be due on the last day of class, and that deadline will be enforced in the standard way (see deadlines, below).

          The criteria for grading the project report (each accounting for 25% of the total) are:

          1. Creativity and originality
          2. Level of Effort
          3. Quality of the presentation
          4. Quality of the science

          If you have no clue about what to do for a project after six weeks of class, I'll suggest something, but you should come to me during office hours to discuss it before I make a topic assignment. If you have a topic in mind, please come to discuss it with me; I'll have to approve your topic before you can get credit for it.

          Assignment deadlines

          Unless you have a really good excuse (and are prepared to document it), no assignments (take-home exams, homework, term projects, extra credit, etc.) will be accepted that are more than 3 hours overdue (in such cases, your score will be a zero) by my clock. Generally, assignments will be due at the end of class on a class day (MWF); assignments turned in 1- 60 min late (by my timekeeping) will have a 20% deduction prior to scoring (if your score is 100%, it will be entered as 80%), assignments 61-120 min late will have a 40% deduction, assignments 121-180 min late will have a 60% deduction. Note that if you habitually miss class on days when assignments are due just so you can turn in the assignment just before class ends, I'm likely to give "pop" quizzes on such days.

          Map Discussions

          Map discussions are a very important part of the course, so they should be prepared for and given as professionally as possible. What I consider to be a map discussion is not a simple presentation describing the features on weather charts and diagrams. Such simple descriptions I consider to be briefings, not discussions. If you are slipping into a briefing rather than a discussion, I'll stop you and let you know that it is not acceptable. In a genuine map discussion, critical thinking is employed both by the presenter(s) and the audience of peers. Participation in the map discussions is not limited to those times when a student is leading the discussion (see below); failing to become involved in the map discussions on a regular basis will result in a low score for class participation (recall it is 25% of your grade!), no matter what else you do in class.

          Depending on the class size, there may be one or two persons leading the map discussion. Every student will be given the chance to lead the discussion several times during the semester. You will have a schedule for which days you will be leading the discussion ... this schedule will be followed without exception, unless an emergency demands your absence. In such a case, you'll be responsible for doing your best to (a) inform me of the situation, and (b) arrange for a substitute within your class.

          Map discussions should have some sort of focus, and I look favorably on discussions that explore topics from the recent lecture material. I also look favorably on tough, pointed questions from those class members not leading the discussion. The object is to learn, and to get used to thinking on your feet. And I look favorably on insightful and well-reasoned presentations from the discussion leaders, including good answers to any tough questions from the "audience."

          A forecast may or may not be an outcome of the map discussions. If a forecast is made, everyone in class will contribute their forecast (including the instructor!) and I expect a brief post-mortem evaluation of the forecasts at the next map discussion.

          Sit-ins Policy

          Generally, I do not permit sit-ins (those sitting in on the class, but not taking it for credit). Any benefits to being in the course accrue only to those who participate; passive observations are not very useful and represent a distraction to me and to the other class members. The only circumstances in which I permit sit-ins will be where I have obtained their prior agreement to participate fully in the class, including the examinations, homework, map discussions, and class participation in general. The only allowable exceptions to this agreement about full participation are the term project and the last, oral exam. I'll grade any contributions from sit-ins as if they were taking the class for credit, but obviously the grades will not count.


          There is no required text for the course. Recommended textbooks:

          • Saucier, W.J. (1955): Principles of Meteorological Analysis (I believe this can be ordered from Dover Reprints)
          • Holton, J.R. (1992): An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology (3rd Ed.)

          Departmental Seminars

          I'll expect all of us to attend the Tuesday afternoon SoM Departmental Seminars regularly. Following these seminars, we'll take some time on Wednesday for a critical discussion of them. This is a useful exercise in critical thinking, so as usual, I'll expect lots of participation from everyone in these discussions.

          Office Hours

          My OU SoM office hours will be announced on the first day of class, and I'll be available there for at least 3 hours per week ... more if needed. If, for some reason, you are unable to take advantage of my office hours, please let me know and I will make whatever arrangements are necessary.

          My office is on the 11th floor of the Sarkey's Energy Center, room 1150. My e-mail address is <> or <>. My phone number is 325-6093.


          Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible so we can discuss accomodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your education opportunities.

          It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required classwork that may fall on religious holidays.

          Anything that appears to be cheating (or other forms of academic misconduct) will not be tolerated. Apparent misconduct will be dealt with by immediate referral of the circumstances through the regular University channels.

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