Faculty Vote to Revise Major Assignment Scheduling Policies

Faculty voted in favor of proposals revising end-of-term major assignment scheduling and procedures to resolve conflicting major assignments at a faculty meeting on April 29.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, each class will be limited to two major assignments in the final three weeks of the term including Extended Period Week (EPW) and only one major assignment per week throughout the entire term. In addition, students will now only be expected to take two major assignments per day, but will have to e-mail all three teachers and their house counselor or advisor to have conflicting assignments moved.

“If you look at the current rules that govern assignments in the final three weeks of the term, including assessment week, it’s really long and complicated and students and teachers are often confused by it. It’s very specific and it restrains assignments in a way that unintentionally makes the problem worse,” said John Rogers, Dean of Studies.

Rogers said that the change will help distribute assignments for students more evenly during the last three weeks of term. Under the current system, penultimate week and EPW are heavily weighted with major assignments—assessments for Juniors, Lowers and Uppers and term papers and projects for Seniors.

The second provision of the new proposal dictates that no class may have more than one major assignment due in any given week throughout the duration of the term, including EPW. Rogers defined a major assignment as a test, paper or project that requires two or more nights’ worth of preparation. Rogers said that the goal of this guideline is to ensure that a student has a weekend to prepare for every major assignment.

The faculty also introduced a new policy to resolve conflicts regarding multiple major assignments on one day. Under the new policy, students are expected to be prepared for up to two major assignments on any given day, instead of the current three. Students with more than two are now required to contact the teacher 24 hours in advance, though late requests may still be honored at the discretion of the teacher.

Students must also e-mail all three teachers that have given conflicting major assignments and copy his or her counselor or advisor. The e-mail should explain the three conflicting major assignment as well as specify which assignment the student wishes to move.

Rogers said that this would increase clarity and honesty between students and teachers. “It would take the burden off the student to negotiate with the teachers,” added Rogers.

Rogers indicated that the e-mail process will also help the faculty keep tabs on how often students are presented with three or more assignments due on the same day.

“I think this will help the situation where students plan ahead, but just have too many things due on any given day. This system supports students who are planning well,” said Trish Russell, Interim West Quad South Cluster Dean, who will assume the position of Dean of Studies after John Rogers finishes his term this year.

Faculty agreed that, in terms of rescheduling assignments, non-proctored assignments, such as papers, should be moved in preference to tests and projects in order to lessen the degree of inconvenience.

The current end-of-term rules were added seven years ago. Rogers said that an update was in order. “I figured it was time to make a policy change instead of constantly making exceptions,” said Rogers.

After hearing complaints and observing problems, Rogers drafted the proposals and introduced them to the Academic Council, which consists of department and division chairs. The Academic Council, after input from individual departments, presented the finished proposal to the faculty.

Rogers decided to address the issues now because his Dean of Studies term ends at the conclusion of this school year. “This is my last year as Dean of Studies and there were a bunch of unsolved items that are largely logistical. I thought it would be good to clear the decks for Ms. Russell when she comes in as the next Dean of Studies.”