Notes from Academic Affairs
December 2, 2021
Greetings from Academic Affairs!
For our last installment of the Fall 2021 semester, we want to address common questions. Toward the end of each semester as faculty are concluding the work of one term and beginning to plan the next, the Office of Academic Affairs typically receives questions regarding a number of policies, including the final exam and closed-week policies. We want to take this opportunity to address these and a few other faculty-developed policies, some of which have been recently updated.
Final Exam Policy: The ISU Final Exam Week Policy states that, if a class requires a final exam, the exam be held in its allotted time during finals week and that it be no longer than the scheduled time. Faculty may, however, work with individual students to provide a special exam time during finals week if there is a special circumstance, such as the student having more than two exams on the same day.
Closed-Week Policy: Although ISU previously had several rules regarding assigning exams during closed week, that is no longer the case. Faculty are welcome to introduce new material and give assignments, quizzes, or tests (except for final exams) during the seven days prior to the start of final exam week. Take-home final exams may be provided to students prior to final exam week as long as they are not due before the end of the scheduled final exam period for the course. As a reminder, there are several exceptions to this policy, such as laboratory and performance courses, as well as graduate courses.
Incomplete Grades: Students often ask about incomplete grades near the end of the semester. Incomplete grades may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor of a course, though students must meet eligibility requirements. In particular, a substantial amount of the course material must have been completed by a student in order to be granted an incomplete grade. If a faculty member wants to provide an incomplete grade to a student who meets this condition, then the instructor will work with the student to fill in a Course Completion Contract, which indicates the work that remains to be completed. Both the faculty member and student must agree to the contract and sign the form before the grade of I is entered as a grade.
Credit or Credit-Hours: At ISU we have seen more asynchronous courses since we transitioned to online courses in spring 2020. Consequently, we would like to provide a reminder about the university’s credit hour and in-seat policy for undergraduate courses. For a course offered over a full semester, for each credit hour in academic courses, fifty minutes are required in class each week and typically an additional 2 hours of work outside of class. For courses that are delivered in one of our online formats—asynchronous, synchronous, or blended—the same guidelines apply: about one hour of contact time plus two hours preparation time for each credit hour. On average, then, students should be expected to combine three hours of direct contact time with faculty with six hours of additional work each week for a typical 3-credit undergraduate course. Students taking their courses over a shorter period, such as 6 or 8 weeks, would still be expected to put in about 45 hours in-seat or direct contact time with faculty members.
All of the policies discussed here are available in their entirety in the Undergraduate Catalog. We hope these reminders help you navigate some of the questions you receive from your students during the remainder of the semester.
The Academic Affairs Team