Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Message Archive

Monday, April 30, 2012

 

This email is being sent to all members of the Baruch College faculty.

 

 

Eight items that relate to final exams and grading, as follows:

1. No finals outside the final exam period (Thursday, May 17 – Thursday, May 24)

2. Proctoring support

3. Creating and administering examinations: best practices in support of academic honesty

4. What should you do if you believe that one of your students has cheated or plagiarized?

5. “Negotiated” F (and other) grades

6. Requests for extra credit assignments

7. Changes to how final grades will be calculated

8. Webgrade (open May 17-29)

 

 

1. No finals outside the final exam period (May 17-24)

We send this reminder each semester at the request of students, the Faculty Senate, and other members of the faculty. Several problems arise when final exams are given outside the period scheduled for those examinations.

  • The NY State Education Department specifies the minimum number of contact hours per credit. We meet the minimum only by including the final exam period. Therefore, no final exams may be administered during regularly scheduled classes, including during the last sessions of the semester.
  • Students deserve the number of classroom hours they have paid for.
  • Students should not have to study for a final exam that will take place on days that they are still attending and doing assignments for other classes.

NB: a version of this message is being sent to students as well.

 

2. Proctoring Support

Students have made clear that faculty members who do not proctor their exams send a strong signal that they do not care about cheating. The Provost's office offers proctoring support to any member of the faculty (FT or adjunct) with more than 60 students in her/his class. There are two conditions: 1) that the instructor is not already receiving a proctor from another source (if other sources are available, they should be applied to first); and 2) that the instructor him/herself also must serve as a proctor for the exam. Instructors who qualify should contact their department chair to locate and arrange for an appropriate proctor. (The Provost's Office does not maintain a list of proctors.) Proctors will be paid $40 (this amount has been increased from $28) for final exams.

 

Chairs: To pay proctors, use the Baruch College Fund check request form. Fill in the person's name, address, social security number, and amount.  Check the box that says "Honorarium & Professional Fees."  Under "Description," write "Payment for proctoring exam." Bring the completed forms to the Provost's office. We will fill in the account number and complete the processing. The BCF check request form is listed in the index to the Faculty Handbook under "Check Request Form": http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/topics.htm

 

3. Creating and Administering Examinations: Best Practices in Support of Academic Honesty

The Academic Integrity Committee has outlined exam-related best practices in the following areas: writing the exam; classes leading up to the exam; before the exam begins; during the exam; if you suspect cheating; when the exam is over. A PDF version of the committee's brochure (only superficially out-of-date) is available at: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/documents/ProctoringBrochure.pdf

 

  • None of us likes to "police" exams. How or whether you carry out any of these suggestions is up to you, but all can be handled with sensitivity and good humor. The goal is fairness -- not a tense, suspicious atmosphere.
  • Open book exams or allowing students to bring and consult a page of notes can alleviate some of the pressures that lead to cheating.
  • In classes before the final, announce the rules (no cell phones etc. -- see below).

 

Here are a few suggestions for protocol during exams (Also see the Exam Proctoring webpage:  http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/ProctoringExams.htm)

  • Proctor carefully and make sure any assistants know the rules and procedures.
  • Disallow use of any electronic devices, including cell phones, which should be out of sight.
  • Ask students to use the restrooms before the exam begins.
  • Seat students apart (when possible).
  • Issue multiple versions of exams. The exams can have the same questions in different order, or, if multiple choice, with only the choices scrambled. Consider using different colored paper for the different versions, allowing you to see if students next to each other have the same exam. (Alternatively, exams of the same color make it impossible for students to know who else has the version they have.)
  • Do not recycle exams from class to class, semester to semester, year to year. (Some student groups maintain archives.) Consider posting or passing out previous finals as study guides for your new exam.
  • If you use blue books, hand out only as many as needed and be sure to collect extras. (Students have been known to take extras home and write in them as preparation for other exams.) Mark your blue books inconspicuously (perhaps on the back) so that a student cannot turn in a previously-prepared blue book. Do not allow students to remove pages from their blue books.
  • Consider asking students to sign a statement on each exam attesting to their honesty and recognition of the consequences of dishonesty (e.g., “By my signature below, I affirm that during this exam I will neither give assistance to nor receive assistance from anyone, and that I will not use any unauthorized notes or other aids. I am fully aware of the consequences of my behavior with respect to academic dishonesty.”).

 

4. What should you do if you believe that one of your students has cheated or plagiarized?

The short answer is to contact Ron Aaron for advice: Ron.Aaron@baruch.cuny.edu or 646-312-4577. (Dr. Aaron is in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.) The two principles that underlie our policies are: 1) faculty members are responsible for grades (potential penalties for academic dishonesty should be stated on the syllabus and reiterated in class); and 2) all incidents should be reported (the purpose of reporting is not punitive, although in some cases punishment, including suspension or expulsion, may follow; the purpose is educative; reporting is key to the process, so that a student cannot falsely claim never to have cheated or plagiarized before). For more detailed information, see http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/documents/Ac_Integr_Summary_Fall_07.htm

NB: The appropriate grade for an unresolved academic integrity issue is PEN.

For more information see the definitions of grades at http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/registrar.htm#grades

 

5. “Negotiated” F’s (and other) grades

Students should receive the grades they have earned. This is an issue of academic integrity: it is perfectly rational for our students to wish to take advantage of the university’s “F-replacement” policy (by which a certain number of failing grades can be replaced on undergraduate transcripts for GPA purposes if the student retakes the class and earns a grade of C or better), but to award an F if a student has earned a D is academically dishonest.

 

6. Requests for “extra credit” assignments

Requests for the opportunity to do extra work for a course when such work has not been an option for the entire class should be denied. A student’s attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other students is part of the college’s academic integrity policy.

 

7. Changes to how final grades will be calculated (as sent March 16)

Members of the faculty who would like to change the percentage that each course requirement contributes to the final grade should do so in written form such as an email to the entire class or via Blackboard as an announcement or an update: any such change needs to be made in writing. A written document provides clarity for the students as to how their grade will be calculated and it documents any changes that a professor decides to make. Students are permitted a certain number of excused absences and may be unaware of such changes if they are announced only in class. Therefore, these changes need to be memorialized in writing. Grade disputes will be resolved by looking at the most recent documentation that members of the faculty provide to students. Without written documentation of changes, the most recent document (the syllabus) will be used as a “contract.” 

 

8. Webgrade

Web grading will open on May 17 (first day of finals) and will close on May 29 (finals end on May 24).

 

 

 

Dennis Slavin

Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President

Baruch College, CUNY

646-660-6504 (phone); 646-660-6531 (fax)

Dennis.Slavin@baruch.cuny.edu

http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/provost/teaching_learning.htm