Spring 2020 Syllabus Letter

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December 13, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to the Spring 2020 syllabus letter.  This letter presents the required information that each syllabus must include, with some elements that many faculty choose to add.  We also share thoughts on factors to consider as you prepare for your Spring 2020 course. 

Perhaps the most important web page to support your teaching with practical information, suggestions, and resources is found here.  This site combines the expertise and support of IMPACT, the Center for Instructional Excellence, Teaching and Learning Technologies, and Purdue Online.

When complete, please upload your syllabus to Purdue Course Insights.  A syllabus archiving system, this feature in myPurdue makes it easy for faculty to make their syllabi available to the University community.


Constructing your syllabus

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Basic Information about the course

  • Course number and title
  • CRN
  • Meeting time
  • Course credit hours
  • Course web page/Blackboard page
  • Prerequisites (if any)

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Basic Information about the instructor(s) 

  • Name of the instructor(s)
  • Office Location
  • Phone number
  • Email Address
  • Office hours, times and location

Factors to consider: 

  1. The key is to provide information as to the ways the student can reach you (Blackboard, email, phone, and/or text) with their questions/
  2. If additional individuals are key contact persons, include information for them as well.


  • The official course description from the university catalog.

As an alternative: 

  1. Some provide a description of the course that connects course themes and topics to the discipline as well as broader relevance.


  • List the course learning outcomes (typically 3-5) that state specifically what students will be able to do or know by the end of the course.


  1. The university expectation is that course learning outcomes are also in the course catalog. 
  2. For assistance in developing or reviewing your learning outcomes, contact InnovativeLearningTeam@urdue.edu
  3. Some faculty share their teaching philosophy with their students. 
  4. Others provide guidance on how to succeed in the course.

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Learning resources, technology, and texts

  • Required texts 
  • Additional readings 
  • Software/web resources 
  • Tutoring support 
  • Blackboard page


  1. Provide the full citation for any required texts, technologies/software, and other additional materials needed in your course.
  2. If you require a text, be sure that your students understand your expectations for its use. 
  3. List alternate ways the students can access the text(s) (e.g., Purdue library, online).
  4. If there are outside resources to support your course (e.g., a tutoring room, supplemental instruction, etc.) include information on how the student can access that support.
KEY NOTE: If you have not already done so, please report your course material requirements to your department’s textbook coordinator so that these materials can be recorded in the Textbook Management system.

REQUIRED INFORMATION: How the student earns their grade 

  • Every syllabus should provide clarity on how what work a student is expected to submit, and how that work is evaluated/graded.


  1. What type(s) of student work (e.g., exams, homework, quizzes, projects, term papers, etc.) are used to determine the grade, and what is the contribution of each type to the determination of the grade? 
  2. When are assignments due? 
  3. Will late assignments will be accepted and any grading penalties for late assignments. 
  4. For certain classes, how is team-based work evaluated?
  5. What is the course policy and procedure for makeup examinations?

REQUIRED INFORMATION: How a student earns their grade 

  • Closely related to how the students earns their grade for the various assignments, how does their collective work turn into the end of the term grade?

Factors to consider: 

  1. What are the numerical ranges for each letter grade? Make sure they are mutually exclusive and collectively exhausted.
  2. What is the effect of academic dishonesty on a student’s grade?

KEY NOTE: Per University Senate student regulation, “Between the beginning of the 5 th and the end of the 7 th week, all students enrolled in 10000-29999 level and those approved for foundational courses shall be provided graded feedback by their faculty.  These grades will not become part of the permanent record.”


  • Our student regulations regarding attendance are lengthy, providing guidance only for cases of bereavement or military leave. In all other cases, the concluding language sets the general expectation that “[t]he University expects both students and their instructors to approach problems with class attendance in a manner that is reasonable”. 
  • Expect some absences for a variety of reasons. Make it clear that the student bears the responsibility of informing the instructor in a timely fashion, when possible. 
  • The general expectation of instructors is to try to accommodate the student by either excusing the student or allowing the student to make up work, when possible.

Additional Comments:

  1. If any instructor has questions about student absences, they should contact the Dean of Students Office at odos@purdue.edu or call 765-494-1747.
  2. The University recognizes that the learning mission can be enhanced significantly by extracurricular experiences. Students participating in University-sponsored activities should be permitted to make up class work missed as a result of this participation.  As an instructor, make clear your expectation that students should communicate with you as far in advance as possible.  Plan to meet with the student to discuss the absence and how, if possible, the learning outcomes associated with any missed class activities may be addressed.  Ultimately, students are responsible for all required coursework and bear full responsibility for any academic consequences that may result due to absence
KEY NOTE: PUSH does not provide students with “excuse” notes.  Unless the student is acutely ill, there is nothing for PUSH to verify.  Instead, encourage students to communicate with you as soon as possible, in the event of an illness, so that you can work together for a positive solution to their absence.  In situations where a student is hospitalized or may need to go home for medical care, the Dean of Students will notify the student’s instructors.


  • As we continue to promote academic integrity, consider adding this sentence to your syllabus. “Academic integrity is one of the highest values that Purdue University holds. Individuals are encouraged to alert university officials to potential breaches of this value by either emailing integrity@purdue.edu or by calling 765-494-8778. While information may be submitted anonymously, the more information that is submitted provides the greatest opportunity for the university to investigate the concern.”
Note: See Appendix A for additional information about academic integrity.

Related comments for Commercial Websites:

  1. Instructors from class to class treat the materials that appear on commercial web pages very differently, causing confusion among students. Examples include web pages like Course Hero or Quizlet.  It is common to find answer keys to old exams or homework.  In the worst case, students can find online services to complete the work for them.
  2. In general, notes are “considered to be ‘derivative works’ of the instructor's presentations and materials, and they are thus subject to the instructor's copyright in such presentations and materials.” As such, they cannot be sold or bartered without your express written permission.  See the policy with regard to commercial note taking in classes that you may wish to include in your syllabus ( see part 9 of the Purdue student miscellaneous conduct regulations).
  3. Thus, be clear in your syllabus as to whether your materials may posted or considered to be derivative works.

Additional comments for Purdue Honor Pledge:

  1. The Honor Pledge Task Force, a student organization responsible for stewarding the mission of the Honor Pledge and encourages a culture of academic integrity, asks all instructors to prominently include the student-initiated Purdue Honor Pledge on their syllabus, as well as exams and key assignments.
  2. The statement as written by our own Purdue students is “ As a boilermaker pursuing academic excellence, I pledge to be honest and true in all that I do. Accountable together - we are Purdue.” 

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Nondiscrimination Statement

  • Purdue University is committed to maintaining a community which recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person; fosters tolerance, sensitivity, understanding, and mutual respect among its members; and encourages each individual to strive to reach his or her own potential. In pursuit of its goal of academic excellence, the University seeks to develop and nurture diversity. The University believes that diversity among its many members strengthens the institution, stimulates creativity, promotes the exchange of ideas, and enriches campus life. Purdue’s nondiscrimination policy can be found here.

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Students with disabilities

  • The DRC recommends the following statement be included in your syllabus. “Purdue University strives to make learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, you are welcome to let me know so that we can discuss options. You are also encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center at: drc@purdue.edu or by phone: 765-494-1247.” 
Related comments:
  1. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is a resource for students and instructors. Students may present a “Letter of Accommodation” to you at any point in the semester. Should you have questions about accommodations, please contact the DRC at 494-1247 or drc@purdue.edu. In many cases, the DRC can partner with you to develop inclusive teaching strategies that benefit all students in your class.
  2. Assistance with Making Learning Materials Accessible:

REQUIRED INFORMATION: Emergency preparation

  • A two-page supplement at the end of this letter provides resources to communicate or engage with your students in case of unexpected emergencies that affect the West Lafayette campus. Emergency notification is vital!  Please consider allowing one or more of the following options to ensure you are quickly notified of an emergency.
  • Keep your cell phone on to receive a Purdue ALERT text message.
  • Log into a Purdue computer connected to the network to receive any Desktop Popup Alerts.
  • If you have a “no cell phone” in class policy allow one or two students who have signed up for Purdue ALERT to keep their phones on to receive any alerts.

 Note:  See Appendix B for additional information.

OPTIONAL INFORMATION:  Mental Health Statement

On the recommendation of the University Senate, CAPS, and the Dean of Students, we ask you to share the following resources on your syllabus.

  • If you find yourself beginning to feel some stress, anxiety, and/or feeling slightly overwhelmed, try WellTrack,  Sign in and find information and tools at your fingertips, available to you at any time.
  • If you need support and information about options and resources, please see the Office of the Dean of Students, for drop-in hours (M-F, 8 am- 5 pm).
  • If you’re struggling and need mental health services:   Purdue University is committed to advancing the mental health and well-being of its students.  If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and/or in need of mental health support, services are available.  For help and to speak with a clinician, contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (765)494-6995 or by going to CAPS’ office on the second floor of the Purdue University Student Health Center (PUSH). For urgent situations after hours, on weekends and holidays, call (765)494-6995 to speak with a clinician. Please see the CAPS website for further information.

Key Dates

  • Classes begin on Monday, January 13, 2020.
  • Monday, January 20, 2020 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (no class)
  • Initial Class Participation (ICP) Reporting is due February 7, 2020.
  • March 16-21, 2020 is Spring Break.
  • The last day of class is May 2, 2020.
  • Finals are May 4-9, 2020.
  • Grades are due by 5:00 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

Final factors

  • Include a disclaimer like this: “Major Campus Emergency - In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines, and grading are subject to change that may be necessitated by a revised calendar or other circumstances beyond the instructor’s control. Relevant changes to this course will be posted on Blackboard and I will send an email.”
  • Make sure you are FERPA certified.
  • If your course involves an industry sponsored class project procedures have been developed for handling the agreements, payments, and intellectual property rights.  Please review the specifics at here . For additional questions or assistance with a specific industry-sponsored student class project, please email Legal Counsel at legalcounsel@purdue.edu .  You can also contact Ken Sandel (765) 494-1063 or sandel@purdue.edu .
  • If you are not sure where to refer students for personal, academic, or financial assistance, send them to the Office of the Dean of Students. Schleman Hall, Room 207, odos@purdue.edu, 765-494-1747, or edu/advocacy

Best wishes with your course,
Dr. Frank Dooley

Dr. Jenna Rickus
Senior Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning Associate Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning

Appendix A - Guidelines for Academic Integrity

In a society that increasingly questions the value of higher education upholding academic integrity takes on added significance.  The time and effort necessary to champion high expectations of academic integrity are well understood, and the University is in full support of faculty and instructors who uphold these standards.  Please consider these five steps for your class.

  1. Define academic dishonesty for your class in your syllabus.  A faculty guide is located here . I encourage you to emphasize this part of your syllabus on the first day of class.  You also may wish to revisit your expectations at key junctures of the semester (e.g., before an exam or term project).
  2. Provide greater clarity to students about what is acceptable and unacceptable. Some classes routinely use team assignments and encourage collaboration for projects, labs, or homework.  Yet at other times of the term, students are expected to work independently.  Be very clear about your expectations for each assignment.
  3. Students should to be told prior to – and as part of – the instructions on each test what is acceptable in terms of notes, phones, calculators, etc.  From class to class our practices vary widely so, here again, it’s important to be very clear in your expectations.
  4. Fourth, define what penalties that be enforced a student is caught.  One example might be:

Incidents of academic misconduct in this course will be addressed by the course instructor and referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) for review at the university level.  Any violation of course policies as it relates to academic integrity will result minimally in a failing or zero grade for that particular assignment, and at the instructor’s discretion may result in a failing grade for the course.  In addition, all incidents of academic misconduct will be forwarded to OSRR, where university penalties, including removal from the university, may be considered.

  1. At a minimum, if you penalize a student’s grade by deducting points, report the instance of scholastic dishonesty to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSSR). One reason it is important to report all incidents to ensure consistent treatment both at the course level and across the institution.  Staff members from OSRR are available to consult on an individual basis.  Their office is in B50 of Schleman Hall, and their phone is 494-1250.
  2. Finally, faculty and instructors have raised concerns about student academic integrity.  At the same time, students have indicated that some instructors appear reluctant to uphold academic standards.  I ask that you be clear in your syllabus on the steps you will take in your class to uphold academic integrity. In addition, students should be made aware that they can report issues of academic integrity that they observe, either through the Office of the Dean of Students ( edu/odos ), call 765-494-8778 or email integrity@purdue.edu .


  1. Prior to the first day of class, obtain a copy of the building emergency plan for each building in which you will be teaching. Note the evacuation route and assembly area, as well as the shelter in place locations. BEPs are located on the Emergency Preparedness website
  2. On the first day of class, the following information is required to be presented to students:
    1. As we begin this semester I want to take a few minutes and discuss emergency preparedness. Purdue University is a very safe campus and there is a low probability that a serious incident will occur here at Purdue. However, just as we receive a “safety briefing” each time we get on an aircraft, we want to emphasize our emergency procedures for evacuation and shelter in place incidents. Our preparedness will be critical IF an unexpected event occurs!
    2. Emergency preparedness is your personal responsibility. Purdue University is actively preparing for natural disasters or human-caused incidents with the ultimate goal of maintaining a safe and secure campus. Let’s review the following procedure
      • For any emergency text or call 911.
      • There are more than 300 Emergency Telephones (aka blue lights) throughout campus that connect directly to the Purdue Police Department (PUPD). If you feel threatened or need help, push the button and you will be connected right away.
      • If we hear a fire alarm we will immediately evacuate the building and proceed to_____________________ (location). o Do not use the elevator. o Go over evacuation route…see specific Building Emergency Plan.
      • If we are notified of a Shelter in Place requirement for a tornado warning we will stop classroom or research activities and shelter in the lowest level of this building away from windows and doors. Our preferred location is ________________.
      • If we are notified of a Shelter in Place requirement for a hazardous materials release we will shelter in our classroom shutting any open doors and windows.
      • If we are notified of a Shelter in Place requirement for an active threat such as a shooting we will shelter in a room that is securable preferably without windows. Our preferred location is ________________.
      • (NOTE: Each building will have different evacuation & shelter locations. The specific Building Emergency Plan will provide specific locations and procedures)
Attached to the syllabus is an “Emergency Preparedness for Classrooms” sheet that provides additional preparedness information. Please review the sheet and the Emergency Preparedness website for additional emergency preparedness information.


EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES are based on a simple concept – if you hear a fire alarm inside, proceed outside.

If you hear a siren outside, proceed inside.
  • Indoor Fire Alarms mean to stop class or research and immediately evacuate the building. o Proceed to your Emergency Assembly Area away from building doors. Remain outside until police, fire, or other emergency response personnel provide additional guidance or tell you it is safe to leave.
  • All Hazards Outdoor Emergency Warning Sirens mean to immediately seek shelter (Shelter in Place) in a safe location within the closest building.
    • “Shelter in place” means seeking immediate shelter inside a building or University residence. This course of action may need to be taken during a tornado, an active threat including a shooting or a release of hazardous materials in the outside air. Once safely inside, find out more details about the emergency*. Remain in place until police, fire, or other emergency response personnel provide additional guidance or tell you it is safe to leave.

*In both cases, you should seek additional clarifying information by all means possible…Purdue Emergency Status page, text message, Twitter, Desktop Alert, Albertus Beacon, digital signs, email alert, TV, radio, etc.…review the Purdue Emergency Warning Notification System multi-communication layers here.


  • Review the Emergency Procedures Guidelines here
  • Review the Building Emergency Plan (available on the Emergency Preparedness website or from the building deputy) for:
    • evacuation routes, exit points, and emergency assembly area
    • when and how to evacuate the building.
    • shelter in place procedures and locations
    • additional building specific procedures and requirements.


  • Teaching and Learning

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