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Teaching

faculty handbook

Courses

Psychology courses are numbered as follows:

PSYC 1000-1099

Core courses. These courses are intended for non-majors. Psychology majors can take them, but they do not count toward major requirements.

PSYC 1100-1999

Introductory. These courses include PSYC1110 and PSYC1111 (the Introduction to Psychology courses) and PSYC1120 and PSYC1121 (Introduction to Behavioral Statistics and Research Methods). These courses are often large (class size 80-250) and provide a broad overview.

PSYC 2000-2999

Distribution requirements. These courses provide a good background in one of the traditional areas of psychology (e.g., social psychology, cognitive psychology). Class size 25-80. We strongly encourage writing assignments in these classes.

PSYC 3000-3999

Electives. These courses go deeper into a narrower topic. Class size 10-40. Writing is expected: students should be asked to write a paper.

PSYC 4000-4999

Seminars. These courses are seminars designed for advanced undergraduates. A term paper (and/or shorter papers) and presenting are expected.

PSYC 5000-6999

Graduate Seminars. These courses are usually more focused. They are intended primarily for graduate students, but advanced undergraduates are welcome. A term paper (and/or shorter papers) and presenting are expected.

Student Photos

You can obtain photos of your students through your class lists in Agora. It may appeal to your students if you learn their names.

Standards of Excellence

All 3000-level and higher courses should have a substantial writing component.

True/false tests are not considered an appropriate means of assessing student learning.

Grade inflation is to be strenuously avoided.

Classroom Technology

Most classrooms have a built in “black box” where you can connect your laptop and then project from your laptop onto a screen also built into the classroom.

A few classrooms have video capture technology: a camera can record everything at the front of the classroom and also what is projected onto the screens. The instructor can adjust the camera to zoom in on just the podium or to have a wide view that includes a panel discussion at the front of the room. The audio is quite clear. The visual is so-so in terms of quality, but a student who misses a class has no excuse for not catching up on the material. Of course, the downside is that class attendance is made that much less vital.

Media Technology Services' website describes the services for classroom support that BC offers.

Course Evaluations & Student Comments

Faculty should keep all course evaluation materials, especially comments written by students, because they will become part of your third year review and also part of your tenure review. Also, hang onto any wonderful emails or written notes you receive from students.

Keep a record of all students whom you have gotten to know (from advising, working in your lab, or other additional contact). Keep a record of all independent study and thesis projects written under your direction. At some point, the Department should contact undergraduate and graduate students for their opinions on your mentoring and teaching. You may be asked to supply a list of students, including full name, year of matriculation, graduating class, and nature of your contact. The Department policy is fluid with respect to which students are contacted. You might make notes on which students you know best and which you know less well in case the Department asks you for your own list of preferred students to contact. The Department might also ask for a complete list of all your students.

Course Websites

Every course should have a course website on which you post your syllabus. You can either include a link on your syllabus to the library online reserves or you can post PDFs of your articles. We use Blackboard Vista, which is simple to learn.

Reserve Readings

O’Neill Library houses the course reserve reading materials. You can ask the library to scan articles and chapters for you to create an electronic version of your assignments.

To put materials on reserve, you can bring copies to the reserves desk, make a small request by phone, or make a large request by email. You should provide them with complete bibliographical information on the work.

You can also ask the office to scan your assigned articles and send them to you as PDFs that you can then post on your course website.

Syllabi

If you need examples of syllabi, the main office keeps an electronic record of past syllabi. Many of these can also be found on individual faculty websites. Each semester, you should email your syllabus to the office and put it on both the course schedule in Agora and your Blackboard Vista site.

A syllabus allows students to plan. Think of a syllabus as a legal document that you can use to defend assigned grades. (Think defensively for a moment to save yourself a lot of time if you get a disgruntled student.) When writing a syllabus, include:

  • Topic(s) covered in each class session
  • Required and recommended readings
  • Required papers
  • Explicit grading criteria.
  • Dates of exams. Final exam dates are scheduled by the university and available on the academic calendar.
  • A plagiarism statement.
  • Office hours. Two to three hours per week is standard.
  • A statement about academic integrity and a link to the university policy on academic integrity.

University Academic Integrity Policy

You should discuss the importance of academic integrity with each class, and include on your syllabi a statement about academic integrity and the link that states the university policies: www.bc.edu/integrity.

If you decide to impose any kind of grading penalty for a violation of academic integrity, it is your responsibility to report this to the class dean, and this will begin the process described below. It is assumed that it would be a very rare to decide to impose no grading penalty, and this would only happen if you really felt that there was an honest misunderstanding on the part of the student.

Here are the typical penalties:

  • First offense: F in the course, and a warning. This is not in the student’s permanent file, and the university does not send this information to anyone. However, the American Medical College Application Service does ask students to answer this question: “Were you ever the recipient of any institutional action by any college or medical school for unacceptable academic performance or conduct violation. You must answer ‘Yes’ even if the action does not appear on or has been deleted from your official transcripts.”
  • For very serious first offense: Probation (e.g., stealing a paper off of someone else’s computer and turning it in as one’s own). This is reportable to graduate schools and remains in the student’s permanent file.
  • Second offense: Suspension for one or two semesters; goes on permanent record, reportable to graduate schools etc.
  • Third offense: Expulsion

The university policy on academic integrity www.bc.edu/integrity states:

When a faculty member determines that a student’s work violates the standards of academic integrity, that faculty member should discuss the violation with the student. If the faculty member decides to impose a grading penalty, a letter of notification describing the incident and the grading penalty is to be sent to the student's class dean.

On receipt of such a notification the class dean will notify the student of the allegation and the grading penalty imposed by the faculty member. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member’s notification in writing. While a case is pending, the student may not withdraw from or change status in the course.

Each reported violation of the standards of academic integrity will be reviewed by the Committee on Academic Integrity of the student's school. In cases involving students from more than one school, or students in joint or dual degree programs, the Committees on Academic Integrity of the pertinent schools will cooperate in their review.

A board chosen by the chairperson of the Committee on Academic Integrity from the full Committee will be assigned to each case, with one of the faculty members as chairperson of the review board. The associate dean will serve as a non-voting administrative resource, and will maintain the Committee's record of notifications and relevant materials.

The faculty member bringing the accusation and the student will be notified that the case is under review by the Academic Integrity Committee. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member’s notification letter in writing. The board at its discretion may interview any individual with knowledge pertinent to the case.

The board will decide a case by simple majority vote, and the associate dean will convey to the faculty member and the student the board’s findings as to responsibility and recommended sanctions. The associate dean will compile a complete file of each case, to be kept confidential in the Dean’s office. Files on students found not responsible will be destroyed.

Penalties for students found responsible for violations will depend upon the seriousness and circumstances of the violation, the degree of premeditation involved, and the student’s previous record of violations. The committee may simply affirm the faculty member’s penalty and issue the student a “warning,” which will be kept in a confidential file in the Dean’s Office until the student graduates and will not be reportable to professional schools or outside agencies; or it may recommend a different grading penalty and/or impose additional administrative penalties. Such penalties may include university probation, suspension, or expulsion, all of which become part of a student’s academic record and are reportable to graduate/professional schools and outside agencies.

Appeal of the board’s decision may be made by written request to the Dean of the school not later than ten days following notice of the board’s decision, and the Dean’s decision will be final.

Graduate Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows

Teaching Assistants (TAs) are assigned to large courses and/or courses with discussion sections and writing components. The determination of which classes get assigned TAs is made by the Graduate Program Director (GPD). Before each semester, the GPD asks faculty to submit TA requests and to explain how the TA will be used. TAs are not ordinarily assigned to classes that have neither a discussion group or writing component.

There are also guidelines for how TAs should be treated: a maximum of 15 hours per week, involvement in the course such that they learn about teaching, etc. See the Graduate Program Handbook for discussion.

Graduate students who have had experience serving as TAs may apply to teach their own course, as a Teaching Fellow (TF). These courses are taught under the supervising faculty’s name, but the graduate student takes responsibility to running the class. This must only be done under close faculty supervision.

Graduate students may also apply to team-teach a course. In this case both students would be considered TFs.

Please consider obtaining some formal evaluation of your TAs or TFs (teaching fellows). Each year the Department nominates one or two TAs or TFs to receive a teaching excellence award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The selection process (handled by the Graduate Evaluation Committee) works better with solid information.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants

The Department has instituted an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UGTA) program. Faculty may request a UGTA through Barbara O’Brien, the Department Manager. Then the professor contacts and recruits the student. The pay is $8.50 per hour. A UGTA may work a maximum of 20 hours per week, but presumably most weeks would be many fewer. Once the student agrees, send an email to Barbara and have the student go to her office to sign up.

Here are the A&S guidelines:

  • UGTAs may only grade objective work. UGTAs may not be involved in composing tests or quizzes. This is a firm rule, and there are no exceptions.
  • UGTAs should be used to grade objective work only after receiving training and clear guidelines on maintaining the integrity, fairness, and privacy of the grading process. Every measure should be taken to prevent UGTAs from grading work of students whom they know. Thus, UGTAs should only be used in courses that are primarily taken by students two years younger (e.g., seniors grade sophomores and freshmen), and UGTAs are asked to recuse themselves from grading students whom they know.