Lecture Course Guidelines

Faculty Guidelines for Large Lecture Courses (Physics 2, 3 and 7) / Head TA Duties

Midterm and final exam instructions: (many of these duties can be delegated to your Head TA if you choose to use one)

1) We require that all large lecture courses use a seating chart for all midterms and finals. If you request it early enough, you can also have an overflow room for exams to give more space between students. There is an issue of left-handed desks. The seating chart can be made with all left-handed desks open and students move into them at the beginning of the exam. The staff can assign left-handed seats given she has the information 1-1/2 weeks before the exam.

2) During all midterms and finals you should check student IDs. For the midterms, it is often difficult to check all IDs, so random spot-checking should be used, either unfamiliar faces or a randomly selected subset. Another choice is to check students who hand in their exam early. It is possible, especially during a final exam, to check all IDs. This is usually done by having students pass their IDs to the end of the aisle.

3) We suggest that you use preprinted cover sheets with the students ID # and seat number. This helps in a number of ways. It tends to ensure that students are in their assigned seats. It helps keep track of who has not taken the exam. It also means that all tests have a legible ID#. A system for accomplishing this is in place. Contact Terri Olsen for details. You will need to have the TAs staple them, but this is now included in their job description.

4) Multiple versions of exams are encouraged. If you use multiple-choice exams, we strongly suggest at least 4 versions of the exam. This helps mitigate any pager or cell phone cheating. The versions should either vary in the order of the problems, the letter associated with the answer, or the numerical values. It is best to avoid different content, as they can lead to student complaints. Separately curving exams with different content is a possibility.

5) We encourage that no backpacks, purses, etc. should be at the students desks during exams. If this is included in the syllabus and announced ahead of time, we have had no complaints from students yet. This seems to be standard in Biology. This clears your view for looking for electronic devices that are not calculators.

6) Clearly state in your syllabus a policy on CALCULATORS, including the fact that no cell phones, and other electronic devices will be allowed to substitute for calculators. Options at this point include not allowing any calculators, allowing only non-graphing calculators, and allowing any calculator.

7) It is important to make every effort to be sure that exams start and end on time. Point 3 is extremely helpful for getting exams started in a timely manner. Make sure that there are more than enough exams. Again, using method 3 plus 10 – 20 blank “extra” exams helps with this.

8) Make sure that you have a clear plan for the collection of exams, as this is a time when cheating becomes likely. One suggestion is for the students to hold the exam over their heads, pass them to the end of the aisle, and have the TAs collect them by row. Do not allow the students to leave until all exams are collected. Holding exams over the head helps you clearly identify students who try to continue working past when you call time. The seating chart allows you to penalize the appropriate person.

9) Make sure that you have sufficient TA proctors. If you need extra, see Julie as we have plenty of readers who can fulfill time as proctors. Proctors should be familiar with the above guidelines and are essential for ID checking. Also, this is included in the TA workload.

Quizzes, homework assignments, and discussion sections:
1) It is a STRICT policy that student attend their registered discussion section. No exceptions to this rule are allowed. It makes it too easy for students to attend earlier sections to preview quizzes. It is detrimental to the students who expect a limited number, only to have their section overflow with unregistered students. The only real way to police this is to carefully instruct the TAs.

2) Corollary to 1: If you have quizzes, the most common way for students to cheat is to come to an earlier section and get a copy of the quiz. This is often done by taking two copies, so that they still have one to hand in. Therefore, TAs must keep careful count of how many quizzes they hand out and make sure that they collect all quizzes that are handed out. Any student handing in a quiz in the wrong section receives a zero. Any student handing in TWO quizzes has committed academic dishonesty. This policy should be clearly outlined in your syllabus.

3) For weekly assignments, do NOT use graded homework, except in a system in which it is randomly collected once or twice a quarter or is a minimal part of the grade. By randomly, it is meant that an entire discussion section is selected at random to hand in their work, while other sections have quizzes. Be aware that Instructor Solution Manuals to all of our textbooks appear to be readily available to those students who desire them.

4) Multiple versions of quizzes are needed, as sections occur all day. In this case, content must be varied, but you should oversee the process in a way that maintains a level of fairness when the quizzes are averaged over the quarter. One can involve the TAs in the writing of the quizzes, as this helps the randomization process, as long as there is oversight of their quizzes.

5) As the quizzes occur in discussion section, the issues of cheating are easier to manage, but need to be taken just as seriously. You should establish a clear consistent policy that is communicated in your syllabus and to your TAs.

6) With our new large numbers of readers and TAs, the faculty role as course manager is more important then ever. You will have to coordinate the graders and TAs and provide sufficient guidance (grading keys, etc.) to ensure that work is graded in a fair and timely manner.  You now also have the option of appointing a Head TA.

Recommended Statements in your syllabus:
You should include a statement on your policy regarding cheating and accommodation of disabilities. For the later, a statement saying that you follow University policy is sufficient. For cheating, as a minimum, refer your students to the UCI policy, currently online at: http://www.editor.uci.edu/catalogue/appx/appx.2.htm . But, also be aware that in any additional statements you make, according to UCI policies, any actions you take in response to cheating are not “punishments”. You are determining a grade for the student, and cheating can be a factor in that grade determination, including the awarding of an F for the course. You are also required to write a letter to the appropriate Associate Dean, and that is the level at which “sanctions” will possibly occur.