Part Four: The Academic Program
1. Course rooms
2. Class meeting time
2. Grading tracks and the meaning of letter grades
3. The Incomplete and No Credit grades and the IP designation
4. Grade reports
5. Change of grade
III. Academic Advising
Established in 1948 to promote personal responsibility and academic integrity, the Honor System is an essential part of life at Colorado College. Upon admission to the College, students commit themselves to comply with the requirements of the Honor System on all assignments completed for credit—tests, exams, papers, reports, and theses. Students are required to sign the Honor Code pledge on all written work to certify that they have received no unauthorized help on an assignment but have submitted their own work and have properly acknowledged the sources of information and ideas not their own.
Colorado College students administer the Honor System. Students elect the members of the Honor Council and are responsible for reporting suspected violations to a member of the Council. The Honor Council adjudicates cases of alleged violations and ensures that the Honor System constitution and a guide to source acknowledgement are made available to all students and faculty.
One member of the faculty serves as advisor to the Honor Council, but all faculty members share responsibility for the continuing effectiveness of the Honor System. Faculty members are expected to explain to students how the Honor System applies in a given course, report possible violations to the Honor Council, and cooperate in Honor Council investigations and trials; and faculty are strongly urged to accept any Honor Council recommendation regarding the course grade for a student found guilty of a violation.
1. Course rooms
The Registrar assigns course rooms for class meetings and laboratory sessions. Except when a morning and an afternoon class use the same room, each class has a course room reserved for its exclusive use. The Registrar may sometimes make a group of rooms available to a particular department, allowing the department to decide how to use them most efficiently.
2. Class meeting time
Unless students have been otherwise notified, the first class of each Block meets at 9 A.M. in the assigned course room. The course instructor has the prerogative of changing the class meeting time for the rest of the Block.
In order to allow students to participate in adjunct courses and co-curricular and other leisure activities, classes should ordinarily be dismissed by 3 P.M., but under certain circumstances (field trips, for example) dismissal by 3 P.M. will not be feasible.
Colorado College has no general class attendance policy, but students are nevertheless expected to attend class regularly, and they must meet their instructor’s stated attendance requirements. Students who miss an examination or a paper deadline because of illness or personal emergency are allowed to take the exam or submit the paper later. If unexcused absences are adversely affecting a student’s academic work, however, the instructor may inform the student that no further absences will be allowed. A student who ignores such a warning and continues to miss class may be dropped from the course with No Credit.
Because continued absence from class may indicate that a student has left campus or is in serious difficulty, faculty members are responsible for informing the Associate Dean of Students or the Associate Dean of the College when a student has been absent for three consecutive class sessions. If the student returns to class and provides a satisfactory explanation of his or her absences, the instructor may decide to excuse them. If the student seems hesitant to explain the reasons for his or her absences, a faculty member may urge the student to make an appointment with either Associate Dean for conversation or counseling. If either Dean determines that the excessive absences have been due to legitimate extenuating circumstances such as illness or family emergency, the instructor may excuse those absences. Faculty members should not contact Boettcher Health and Counseling center for information about students who miss class or about the reasons for their absences.
Colorado College courses normally end at noon on Wednesday of the fourth week of the Block. (The Dean’s Office publishes any exceptions in the academic calendar.) Although faculty members have wide discretion in organizing their courses and setting class time, they should not depart from the “Wednesday noon” rule. The College requires class attendance in the weeks of Block Breaks and holidays and regards “long weekends” (missing class on Mondays and Fridays) as an abuse of the Block Plan. At the beginning of each Block, course instructors should explain these features of the College’s attendance policy and possible consequences of ignoring them (grade penalties, for example).
Every faculty member decides what examinations are appropriate to her or his courses. Because all exams are given under the Honor System, instructors are present in the classroom only to make announcements and answer questions. When giving out an exam, instructors should explain how the Honor System applies and remind students to sign the Honor Code pledge. Students take in-class exams in designated rooms only. Take-home exams must be open-book.
2. Grading tracks and the meaning of letter grades
Colorado College provides students a two-track grading system. Students may choose either track for any course. The G Track allows students to be evaluated according to grades A through D (or No Credit); the P Track includes three options: S (Satisfactory), CR (Credit), and NC (No Credit). The “Academic Policies” section of The Colorado College Catalog of Courses provides complete information regarding the full range of grades and the grade equivalents of CR, the numerical value of each grade (for purposes of computing grade-point average), and the meaning of each letter grade at Colorado College.
3. The Incomplete and No Credit grades and the IP designation
If a student has a legitimate reason for not satisfying all course requirements by the end of the Block, the instructor reports a grade of Incomplete to the Registrar and provides an explanatory comment on a form provided by the Registrar’s Office. An Incomplete must be removed by the beginning of the fourth Block after the course ended unless the instructor requires that the course work be completed earlier. If the work has not been made up in the prescribed period, the Registrar’s Office converts the grade of Incomplete to No Credit.
The No Credit grade indicates that a student failed to complete all course requirements and provided no legitimate reason for that failure or that the student’s course work was clearly unsatisfactory and unworthy of College credit. The Registrar’s Office requires that instructors explain their reasons for any No Credit grade. Instructors’ explanations of Incomplete and No Credit grades are crucial for the Dean’s Advisory Committee as it deliberates academic suspensions and warnings. After an instructor has submitted course grades to the Registrar, a student cannot change a No Credit to a passing grade by, for example, turning in a missing paper or by taking a missed examination.
Students who wish to repeat a course in order to earn a higher grade must receive approval from the instructor who will teach the course and from that instructor’s department chair. No grade will be expunged from a student’s transcript. All courses taken and re-taken, and all grades in those courses, remain a part of the transcript. No course can meet graduation requirements more than once.
The notation IP (“in progress”) on a grade report indicates on-going study in courses of two or more Blocks that are not in sequence or in research courses that cannot be completed in one Block. Students must complete “in progress” work in no more than eight Blocks.
4. Grade reports
Except for Blocks 4 and 6, faculty members are expected to submit course grades within a week after a Block ends, on forms provided by the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar’s Office notifies students of their grades at the end of each semester.
5. Change of grade
An instructor who decides that he or she has made a grading error may request the Registrar to change a student’s course grade. Such requests must be made within two Blocks after the end of a course.
All faculty members are responsible for providing students the opportunity to evaluate course and instructor at the end of each course. The College gives serious attention to student evaluations because, as diagnostic instruments, they can contribute significantly to the improvement of faculty members’ teaching skills.
The College has an all-College course evaluation instrument that is administered at the end of each course. The primary aim of a course evaluation is to ascertain how effective a course was as a learning experience and how effectively a faculty member provided the opportunity for that learning experience, rather than how much students liked (or disliked) the faculty member.
At least once each year, each chair (or a designee of the chair, such as the mentor of a junior faculty member) reviews the course evaluations of every member of her or his department or program. These reviews can serve as a basis for constructive discussions between the chair and department members about ways to improve teaching effectiveness. As diagnostic instruments, course evaluations can contribute significantly to the improvement of faculty members’ teaching skills; as evaluative instruments, they can aid in decision-making about faculty members’ performance; and as research instruments, they can aid in continued efforts to provide fair and informed assessment of teaching.
Faculty members can find further information about the all-college course evaluation on the Colorado College Platform and Repositry for On-line and Web-based Learning (PROWL) site of the Faculty Executive Committee.
A student may undertake an independent study project in order to pursue in greater depth a subject previously studied or to investigate a topic not covered in a regular course. The level of work for an independent study must be advanced rather than introductory. Juniors and seniors are therefore more likely than first-years or sophomores to have the academic maturity and course prerequisites necessary for successful projects. No student may undertake an independent study without a faculty supervisor. Also necessary is the approval of the independent study proposal by a department or interdisciplinary program chair. The student’s faculty supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the independent study carries a workload at least as demanding as a regular course that earns the same credit. Before the study begins, student and supervisor should reach agreement about such features of the course as the schedule of readings, frequency of student/advisor meetings, and other course requirements.
One of the important responsibilities of all regular, full-time faculty members, after their first year at the College, is advising students on all matters related to their progress toward graduation. The Associate Dean of the College assigns every new student a faculty advisor, and faculty can play an important role in helping their first-year advisees adjust to college life. When students choose an academic major, they normally select an advisor in the department of their major. Faculty members should encourage all advisees to consult with them any time during the year about questions or problems related to the academic program.
The College requires returning students to confer with their faculty advisor during the two weeks of pre-registration in Block 7, and the electronic pre-registration process does not allow students to submit a course schedule without their advisor’s Personal Identification Number. Students “bid” for courses by using, in any combination, the 80 points allotted them; that is, they may bid from 0 to 80 points for any particular course so long as the total of points bid is exactly 80. (Half-block, extended format, and summer session courses do not require points.) Registration instructions from the Registrar’s Office explain that students must secure the consent (confirmed by PIN) of the course instructor for courses that have the prerequisite “COI,” and the consent of the department chair (also confirmed by PIN) for courses that require “COD.”
The Registrar’s Office makes every student’s course schedule available on-line by the end of the week following the pre-registration period. Thereafter, students may change their course schedule by means of drop/add forms in the Registrar’s Office.
The Registrar’s Office also provides reports of progress toward the degree to students and their faculty advisors. These reports indicate the total academic units earned to date; the units earned toward the 18 required outside the department of the major; and the student’s progress toward satisfying the requirements for graduation as described in the Colorado College Catalog of Courses: all-College, divisional distribution, Critical Perspectives, foreign language, major (and minor) requirements. During pre-registration, faculty members should review the Registrar’s reports with their student advisees as part of the advising process.
Information about the Colorado College Summer Session is available to faculty members and students in theSummer Session Bulletin and from the Office of Summer Programs.
If a faculty member gives a student incorrect information or advice about a College policy and the student takes legal action against the College because acting on that advice adversely affected his or her progress toward the degree, a court may rule in favor of the student on the basis of the “apparent authority doctrine.” It is imperative, then, that in fulfilling their advising responsibilities all members of the faculty be thoroughly familiar with the College’s academic policies, particularly all-College and departmental degree requirements. For faculty and students alike The Colorado College Catalog of Courses is the principal source of information about requirements for graduation, the necessary minimum progress toward the degree, registration and course changes, honors at graduation, academic warnings and suspensions, leaves of absence, and special programs and courses of study (for example, the Colorado College Teacher Education Program and programs of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest). Faculty advisors also have electronic access to relevant data about their advisees such as current academic schedule and degree progress.
Faculty members should consult with the Dean’s Office when questions arise because of special student needs or unusual circumstances. They should not agree to any student request for an exception to a College policy without the approval of the Dean’s Advisory Committee.
A faculty member who wishes to offer a new departmental course presents a proposal, including the rationale for the course, to her or his department. After discussion, possible revision, and approval of the proposal, the department submits it to the appropriate Divisional Executive Committee. The DEC may reject the proposal outright, send it back to the department for modification, or forward it to the Committee on Instruction with comments or questions. After discussing the proposal’s educational merits and budgetary implications, the Committee on Instruction decides whether to recommend faculty approval. No course becomes part of the Colorado College curriculum without faculty approval.
Departments may submit proposals for new courses to their Divisional Executive Committee any time during the first semester but no later than the end of Block 4. The Block 4 deadline allows Divisional Executive Committees and the Committee on Instruction to review proposals in time to be voted on at the Block 6 faculty meeting and, if approved, to be included in the course schedule by the beginning of pre-registration in Block 7.
If a member of the faculty wishes to offer a new Divisional Studies course, she or he submits it directly to the appropriate Divisional Executive Committee. A proposal for a General Studies course goes directly to the Committee on Instruction after the faculty member has discussed it with the faculty representative of General Studies.
To obtain approval for General Education Critical Perspectives designation, a faculty member, with the approval of the department, submits a request simultaneously to the Chair of the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC) and to the appropriate Divisional Executive Committee (e.g., for SI designation, courses must be sent to the Natural Science Divisional Executive Committee). Divisional Executive Committees may, if they choose, send comments on the proposal to the GEOC in time for its meeting on the first Wednesday of each block. The GEOC may request a tentative syllabus, readings list or other materials from faculty to inform its discussion. The GEOC may reject a request outright, recommend modifications, or approve it. If approved, courses are sent first to the Committee on Instruction and then to the faculty for final approval.
The Committee on Instruction considers the merits of any course proposal with questions such as the following in mind: Would the course enrich the liberal arts curriculum of the College? Would it contribute to the aims of the department (or the aims of the College’s Divisional Studies or General Studies programs) by filling an educational lacuna? Would it supplement other course offerings in ways that would enhance a major or minor? Can available College resources (qualified faculty, library holdings, audio-visual and media services, field equipment, etc.) adequately support the course? Is the course likely to attract students because of the academic experience it promises? Will the course entail additional costs for students—and if so, are those costs reasonable?
In addition, requests for General Education Critical Perspectives courses should include the current catalog course description (for a new course, include the description being sent to the Committee on Instruction for review) and a brief rationale describing how the course meets the program goals for Critical Perspectives courses (see Catalog or Registrar’s website).