Reminders for the end of the term

April 27, 2017

Dear Instructors in Yale College:

With the end of the term upon us, we write with reminders from the Faculty Handbook and the Yale College Programs of Study.

Your teaching responsibilities

Your teaching responsibilities extend through the end of the term. The Faculty Handbook puts it this way: “For full-time teaching faculty this includes being on campus most days of the work week…. All teaching faculty must remain on campus during reading and examination periods.” Please be sure to stay in New Haven through the end of the term, and please remember that faculty members must administer their own examinations; they should not turn them over to teaching fellows.

Final examinations

Examinations must be offered at the time officially set and published by the University Registrar. If you choose to offer an optional, earlier examination (and this must be offered to all students), you must also offer a completely separate examination at the official time. No final examinations may be administered until the beginning of the examination period, May 4. This semester, examinations end on May 10, and all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors must leave University housing by noon, May 11. (Seniors must leave on May 23, the day after commencement.) You can look up any course on OCI to see its exam schedule, and you may wish to include this information on your next syllabus.

Take-home examinations

Yale College does not recommend take-home examinations. However, if you do assign a take-home examination, tell your students if they may collaborate and what materials they may use. Also take into consideration your students’ other final work: A 24-hour examination may prevent students from sleeping for 24 hours, whereas an in-class final examination enables them to balance all of their examinations, budget their time, and maintain their health.

Extra time

Students have 30 minutes of extra time for all final examinations. The Yale College Programs of Study explains that “final examinations normally last either two or three hours but, in either case, students are permitted to take an additional half hour before being required to turn in their answers. This additional time is given for improving what has already been written, rather than for breaking new ground.” Please avoid confusion by announcing this policy and writing it on the exam, with language such as: “This is a two-hour exam for which you have two and a half hours.” You may decide to collect individual portions of the examination and schedule a bathroom break; if you do so, please build review time into every question, e.g. Part 1 (one hour): Answer two of the following questions (45 minutes; 15 minutes review).

Returning final work

All final work must be returned to students. Final papers should, ideally, be returned at the examination, if there is an examination, and students should receive comments on these papers. In courses without an examination, comments on final papers should be provided to students either electronically (Canvas or Classes v2 may be used for this purpose), or by secure return of paper versions. Returned work must not be left in an unattended area; even in a department office, students should collect work from an assistant, not an unattended mailbox.

For the greatest possible equity in grading, consider asking students to mark blue books with their SIDs, not their names, and instruct teaching fellows to grade by question, not by student. Whenever possible, grade in teams, and supervise your TAs.

Preventing cheating

To prevent cheating, here are some suggestions for administering examinations. Do not recycle old examinations. Post examination questions, section by section, on a screen, so that students do not have access to questions beyond a given time frame, and to prevent students from using crib sheets during bathroom breaks. Mark your blue books to prevent students from bringing them in to your examinations. Clear all writing surfaces. Allow no electronic devices, even as timekeepers. Above all, be clear and specific about your policies.

Reporting academic dishonesty

It is the policy of Yale College that all cases of academic dishonesty be reported to the Executive Committee. Any evidence of academic dishonesty should be brought to the attention of the Yale College Dean’s Office (contact Jill Cutler or her assistant, Lisa Miller, at As the Handbook notes, “For the sake of consistency, impartiality, fairness, and due process in treating cases of academic dishonesty, it is essential that all such cases be referred to the Executive Committee rather than being settled privately between instructor and student.”

Improving advising

Improve by identifying students who need special attention. Especially with the pressure of the end of the term, it is helpful to know about students who may need support, for whatever reason. We also hope you will bring exceptionally strong students and their work to our attention; you will find a form for this purpose on the website you use to submit final grades, but residential college deans are happy to receive this information at any point in the semester. A list of residential college deans is appended.

Planning ahead

As you write your syllabi for next term, we urge you to be clear in your expectations of students, and to state your policies on attendance, electronic devices in class, and grading. We also urge you to communicate early and often with students as you determine your class roster, waiting lists, and other efforts to improve the course selection period at the beginning of the term. Also keep in mind that students deserve feedback early in the term; more short assignments rather than single long term papers give students the opportunity to improve their writing and to develop an eye for better questions as they frame subsequent research.

With all best wishes for the end of the term,

Lynn Cooley, Tamar Gendler, and Jonathan Holloway
Dean of the Graduate School, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Dean of Yale College