Course Policies & Practices

We encourage all faculty members to review the procedures for the conduct of courses, compiled by the Office of the Registrar and the Office of the Dean of the College. The faculty services page provides useful information regarding teaching and learning, grading and other policies.

Policies on Collaboration

It is up to you to set clear expectations regarding collaboration on any materials that will be graded in your course (e.g. take-home exams, papers, homework, problems sets or laboratory reports.) The standard for permissible collaboration varies from course to course. Some faculty members permit students to do problem sets together and even to turn in an assignment together; others allow students to discuss the problems but require them to write up their own answers; still others prohibit any collaboration at all on homework. Given the proliferation of technologies that enable students to share information quickly and easily, it is especially important that you set forth your expectations in writing as to what constitutes permissible collaboration on academic work in your course. All faculty are encouraged to watch this brief video on academic integrity in the classroom (log-in required). In the video, faculty and students discuss ways to clearly communicate course policies regarding permissible collaboration and other academic integrity issues, providing specific examples of behaviors that might fall into the gray area or in fact cross the line. For sample guidelines, see these course syllabus statements as well as this handout on guidelines for writing assignments. For the specific University policies, consult Academic Integrity, the Undergraduate Announcement and Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. 

Examination Cover Sheet

The Honor Committee has developed an informational cover sheet that faculty members can use with in-class examinations. The purpose is to have an easy and reliable way for a faculty member to make plain to students what written materials, if any, can be used during an examination, and to give students clear information about such details as the length of the examination and where they can find the course head or preceptor while the examination is in progress. Faculty members who choose to use the cover sheet should print out the form, complete it as appropriate for the examination in question, and have copies made on colored paper in the department or program office when the examination is printed.

Course Scheduling

As you think about scheduling the meeting time for your course, you might want to keep in mind that there is considerable congestion in the most popular time slots. A very large number of lectures are scheduled in the mornings and seminars are frequently scheduled in the afternoons. If you are looking to maximize possible enrollments in your course, you might consider picking a less congested time slot. Departments as a whole should try to take advantage of all available time blocks to minimize cross-scheduling and increase the options for their concentrators.

Pass/D/Fail Grading Option

The pass/D/fail grading option is designed to encourage students to explore the curriculum. The Office of the Dean of the College encourages faculty members to make the pass/D/fail option more widely available, particularly in introductory level courses or those used to fulfill the general education distribution requirements. Students may elect the pass/D/fail option in as many as four courses, but may only elect one per semester. Students may elect the pass/D/fail as early as the beginning of the 7th week of classes and must elect the pass/D/fail option by the end of the 9th week of classes.

Undergraduate Course Assistants

The University recognizes that, under appropriate circumstances, it can be beneficial for undergraduate students to assist faculty members with the grading of certain types of course work. Undergraduate Course Assistants (UCAs) can derive significant benefits from having this additional opportunity to work with faculty members, while the assistance of UCAs can allow faculty members to devote more time to their advising and teaching responsibilities and otherwise manage their courses more effectively. Before engaging an undergraduate course assistant, please review the University's policy and then contact Stephanie Brown for the standard terms and conditions.

Policies on Laptops in the Classroom

Each faculty member may set the policy for the use of laptops in his or her classroom. The McGraw Center has outlined the factors you may wish to consider in setting a laptop policy.

Athletics and Class Attendance

Princeton University has long been committed to maintaining a competitive varsity athletics program as part of its broad conception of undergraduate education. In keeping with that commitment, Princeton reserves the 4:30-7:30 p.m. time slot for student participation in athletics and many other extracurricular activities. The University has a long-standing policy regarding conflicts that may arise between regularly scheduled classes and varsity athletic competitions.

Our athletics department makes every effort to schedule competitions at times that do not conflict with our students’ academic commitments. However, such conflicts are sometimes unavoidable due to a variety of factors beyond our control. In those cases, our policy is not to penalize students for missed class time. (Please note that students are not permitted to miss class to attend practices.) Students are also expected to meet with their instructors at the beginning of each term to identify any class meetings they are likely to miss due to athletic competition and to discuss how they plan to cover the assigned material (by, for example, reviewing other students’ notes, attending office hours, or writing a short essay on the assigned reading). In short, while the University permits students to miss classes for sanctioned varsity athletic competitions, these absences must not rise to a level that compromises a student’s ability to remain in good academic standing.

If you have any questions or concerns about the amount of class time that a student is missing due to varsity athletic competition, please contact Dean Tara Christie Kinsey. Dean Kinsey will consult as needed with Dean Clayton Marsh, Princeton’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA, and other colleagues in the residential colleges and the athletics department.

Class Trips

If you are planning a domestic or international class trip as part of your course, you should consult the travel website for important information on the policies, procedures and guidelines that govern University-sponsored travel. Please note that all University-sponsored undergraduate student overnight travel, with the exception of metropolitan New York City and Philadelphia, must be registered on the travel database. The University will not fund or sponsor undergraduate student travel to countries on the U.S. State Department Warning List or to countries where the United States has issued travel restrictions. International SOS is Princeton's on-the-ground support resource and the Smart Traveler Program provides information and notices for international travelers from the U.S. State Department. We encourage you to contact the Office of International Programs if you have any questions about group international travel.

Mid-Semester Course Feedback

More and more faculty members are finding mid-semester evaluations a valuable resource for their teaching. Unlike the evaluations completed at the conclusion of a course, gathering earlier feedback from students can enable faculty members to make adjustments that improve the quality of the experience for both instructors and students. If you are interested in ways to solicit feedback, visit the McGraw Center website.

Student in Difficulty Reporting System

If an undergraduate student in your course receives a failing grade on their midterm or is otherwise experiencing difficulty, please use the Student in Difficulty system (login required) to submit an academic progress report to the student's residential college staff. A member of the advising staff will reach out to the student and offer appropriate support.

End-of-Semester Work: Reading Period, Dean’s Date and Exam Period

The three weeks following the 12-week class schedule is the period designated for undergraduates to complete final course assignments and assessments. (In the fall semester, this period begins after winter break; assignments should not be due during the break). This period is intended to provide an opportunity for reflection, writing and preparation for exams. Final written assignments should not be due before reading period, and may not be due after “dean’s date” (the second Tuesday of reading period), which is the University deadline for all written work. Extensions beyond dean’s date must be approved by the student’s residential college dean or director of studies as well as by the course instructor. All students requesting such an extension should be told to contact the appropriate residential college staff.

The final examination period begins the day after reading period. Exams are scheduled by the Office of the Registrar and can only be rescheduled by the Office of the Registrar. Exams are not proctored at Princeton, but there are very strict protocols regarding their administration. If students approach you about rescheduling an exam, please send them to the registrar. Any exam postponement in excess of 24 hours requires that a new exam be written.

Take-home examinations are an increasingly popular form of assessment. In order to allow students to pace their end-of-semester work appropriately, take-home finals cannot be due before final exam period begins (the day after dean’s date) and should be due no later than the sixth day of exam period. When designing a take-home exam and assigning deadlines, you should be aware that students are likely taking regularly scheduled finals during the same period. Students with a conflict between a take-home exam and an exam scheduled by the registrar should consult with their residential college dean or director of studies.

Course Evaluations

The online course evaluation system gives students the opportunity to provide constructive comments about their courses that will be useful to the course instructors and certain University administrators with responsibility for the overall quality of the curriculum and academic life at Princeton. To ensure the integrity of this process, student evaluations are anonymous (the system is designed so that the student's identity cannot be tracked). Faculty members and administrators are not able to view evaluation results, including comments, until after the evaluation period has ended and after their final grades have been submitted. Students are advised that their anonymous comments in response to the final question ("What advice would you give to another student considering taking this course?") will be made available on the Course Offerings website to other members of the University community for general consideration.