Policies

Below are our policies for graduate teaching assistants and instructors:

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Obtaining a Sub

To find a substitute for one or more of your classes, please email your request the FYC Listserv with the date, time, and location of the class(es) as soon as you anticipate needing a sub. 

It is your responsibility to provide the sub with a description of what material you'd like covered, as well as detailed lesson plans and activities. When you have a sub in place, please email Sara Knight the sub's name and the time(s) of the class(es) the sub is covering so the sub can be compensated.

Whenever possible, please let your students know in advance that you will be having a sub. 

If you cannot find a sub, please email your students A.S.A.P. to let them know not to come to class as well as what online work you will be assigning in order to cover the material. 

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Printing

We understand you will sometimes need to make copies for your students. However, whenever you can, post .pdf documents to Canvas rather than printing hard copy handouts, we strongly encourage you to do so.

You may print up to 250 hard-copy pages per semester per class on the FYC printer (using Canvas should help you stay well within that limit). We also ask that you try to limit copy requests to two-page documents that can be copied on the front and back of one sheet of paper, and we encourage you to stay clear of image-heavy documents that use a great deal of toner.

FYC Office Manager Sara Knight has discretion over which documents may be better circulated as .pdfs than as hard copies. We set the limit and guidelines in accordance with the university’s Go Green initiative in an effort to diminish the environmental and financial costs associated with bulk printing.

Please note, the FYC printer is for printing classroom materials only. You may use the grad lab to print any coursework-related material.

If printing from a flash drive, the document must be in .pdf format. Please enter the four digits of your 4x4 in the User I.D. box to log in. 

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FYC ListServ

We at the Office of First-Year Composition try to limit our posts on the FYC ListServ to important announcements and requests. We ask that graduate teaching assistants and instructors also limit their use of the ListServ to these purposes.  

When responding to a post on the FYC ListServ, please be sure to use Reply and not Reply All to contact the original poster as a courtesy to other users of the list. All posts should be polite and professional.

If you have any questions about what is or isn't an appropriate use of the ListServ, please email us at fyc@ou.edu.

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Responding to Parents

You are not permitted any contact whatsoever with your student's family members (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) unless the contact is just to let you know that your student is lying in a hospital unable to email you, in which case, please reply.

If you receive an email from a family member on any other subject, forward it immediately to Office of First-Year Composition Director Dr. Roxanne Mountford with an explanation if one is available.

Although FERPA is one of many reasons not to respond, do not reciprocate contact by attempting to explain FERPA or even offering any acknowledgement of the email. 

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OU Behavior Intervention Team/Compass

The University of Oklahoma has a number of resources aimed at giving our students the best possible chance to succeed on campus, not just academically but in all factors of life. Several of these resources have been placed under the umbrella organization of the University of Oklahoma’s Behavior Intervention Team (BIT).

What is BIT and what do they do?

OU BIT is a group of trained campus professionals who respond to reports of disruptive or troubling behavior issues. BIT’s mission is to promote student, faculty and staff success and campus safety by identifying individuals who demonstrate behaviors that may be early warning signs of possible disruptive or violent behavior and intervene at the earliest possible point.

The focus of OU’s Behavior Intervention Team is care and concern for students, faculty members or staff members who may be in distress. Team members coordinate resources and implement a coordinated response with the goal of providing assistance to the individual while mitigating risk in an effort to keep the OU community healthy and safe.

BIT provides centralized, preventive, early intervention for students, faculty and staff using the following strategies:

  • Provides consultation and support to faculty, staff, administration, and students in assisting individuals who display concerning or disruptive behaviors
  • Serves as the central point of contact for reporting problematic behavior by a student, faculty member, or staff member
  • Triages reports – identifying patterns of behaviors which might suggest the need for an intervention
  • Assesses threat/risk
  • Coordinates follow-up
  • Connects individuals with appropriate campus and community resources
  • Observes ongoing behavior of individuals who have displayed disruptive or concerning behavior

When and how to make a report:

If you have a student who is (or who you suspect might be)...

  • experiencing a decline in work or academic performance
  • demonstrating disruptive or disturbing behavior
  • showing dramatic changes in appearance, behavior or weight
  • having problems at home, with classes or work
  • making disturbing comments in conversation, email, letters, social media postings or papers
  • sad, anxious or experiencing dramatic mood shifts
  • abusing alcohol or drugs
  • isolating themselves socially
  • acting paranoid or suspicious
  • frequently angry or easily frustrated
  • struggling with health problems

As composition instructors, we are often uniquely positioned to help students in the early stages of transitioning to student life. 

If you have a situation that concerns you with a student, please come and speak with us in the FYC office and, if appropriate, make a report to BIT. To do so, go to http://www.ou.edu/normanbit/. Reports may also be made by email (normanbit@ou.edu) or by phone at (405) 325-7700.

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Grade Challenges

Academic Appeals at the University of Oklahoma and the Department of English follow a three-step process:

  1. First, the student must meet with her/his instructor in an effort to come to a resolution about the grade in question.
  2. If resolution between student and instructor is not reached, after the semester is over the student may submit the essay in question to the Office of First Year Composition. FYC will review the essay according to the process stipulated below.
  3. If the student is unsatisfied with the grade review assessment performed by FYC, s/he may choose to appeal to the College of Arts and Sciences. CAS will review the grade(s) in question according to the process stipulated on their web site: cas.ou.edu

Office of First Year Composition Process of Grade Review

When a student has questions about essay grades or the final course grade, the first step is to meet with their instructor face-to-face to discuss the grade. Normally a student’s instructor can explain how grades are assigned as well as answer questions about student performance and evaluation. If issues related to the assigned grade remain unresolved even after the student meets with her or his instructor, the student may file a grade appeal with the Office of First Year Composition. The nature of the grievance must meet the criteria stated in this policy. Instances when a student feels a teacher is too harsh or strict in evaluation or when a student believes a teacher is ineffective are not grounds for filing a grade appeal. Disliking a teacher or a teacher’s style is not reason enough for a grade change.[1]

You may only appeal the assigned grade if the instructor has violated published policies and procedures, if the instructor has demonstrated prejudiced or capricious evaluation, or if the instructor has shown a consistent inability to communicate with students in ways necessary to their success.

Students may submit an essay[2] during the semester or after the semester concludes up until the grade appeal deadline. If the student decides to appeal a grade during the semester, s/he must first meet with her/his instructor within 15 business days of receiving the grade. If the student and the instructor are unable to reach an understanding, the student may submit the essay in question to the Office of First Year Composition. Students appealing a grade must submit a letter of appeal. This letter should explain the student’s reasons for disputing the grade and should also indicate how the conversation with the instructor was unable to produce resolution or clarity.

The instructor must submit a letter of explanation, the original graded essay(s), assignment sheet(s) and grading criteria/rubric(s), and any other relevant material. All materials will be reviewed holistically by at least two members of FYC staff. Each reviewer will determine if the instructor’s assessment practices are consistent with published policies and procedures and avoid prejudice or capriciousness. Once two members of FYC staff have reviewed all materials (collected from both teacher and student), they will each put their assessment in writing and submit all materials to the Director of First Year Composition. The Director(s) will make the final assessment. Once the decision has been made, both instructor and student will be notified immediately.

If the student is unsatisfied with FYC decision, they must meet with the Chair of the Department of English. After this meeting, the student may appeal to CAS within 10 business days.

 The deadline to file a grade dispute for a fall course is February 15th. The deadline to file a grade dispute for a spring course is September 15th

[1] The spring 2012 revisions to this policy are adapted in part from the University of Southern Florida FYC grade appeal protocol.

[2] If the student would like to request grade review for multiple essays, s/he can only do so one at a time. The student must perform every step in the process of appeal for each essay. Furthermore, before proceeding with a subsequent appeal, s/he must meet with the Director of First Year Composition.

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Mediation

In the event that there is an unresolvable issue between a student and instructor, either the student or the instructor can schedule mediation with the First-Year Composition (FYC) staff.

Mediation follows a two-step process:

  1. The student must meet with her/his instructor in an effort to come to a resolution about the issue.
  2. If resolution between student and instructor cannot be reached, the student may submit a letter to the FYC Office detailing the issue and including any relevant information to assist FYC in mediating the discussion between teacher and student.

Office of First-Year Composition Mediation Process

When a student has questions about course policies, grades, or the instructor’s implementation of course policies, the first step is for the student to meet with the instructor face-to-face to discuss the issue(s). Normally a student and instructor can communicate about the issue and come to a workable resolution. However, if issues remain unresolved even after the student meets with her or his instructor, the student may file a request for mediation with the Office of First Year Composition. The nature of the grievance must meet the criteria stated in this policy.

You may only request mediation if the instructor has violated published policies and procedures, if the instructor has demonstrated prejudiced or capricious implementation of policy, or if the instructor has shown a consistent inability to communicate with students in ways necessary to their success. Instances when a student disagrees with the teacher’s policies or feels a teacher is too harsh or strict or when a student believes a teacher is ineffective are not grounds for requesting mediation. Disliking a teacher or a teacher’s style is not reason enough to schedule mediation.

Students may submit a request for mediation any time during the semester in which s/he is taking the course. If the student wishes to appeal a paper grade, s/he must do so after the semester is over in accordance with the “Grade Appeal Policy” (available on the FYC website). In order to schedule mediation, the student should first meet with her/his instructor. If the student and the instructor are unable to reach an understanding, the student may submit a formal letter of request for mediation to the Office of First Year Composition. This letter should explain the student’s reasons for requesting mediation and should also indicate how the conversation with the instructor was unable to produce resolution or clarity.

If the student wishes to schedule mediation with FYC staff, the staff will first notify the instructor of the specific policies or issues to be discussed in the mediation. FYC staff will not disclose the details of the student’s request for mediation but will provide only enough information to prepare the instructor to discuss the policies and/or classroom issues the student wishes to address. FYC staff will schedule a time that works for the student, instructor, office staff, and the Director(s) of FYC, and mediation will take place in the Office of First Year Composition (Gittinger Hall room 122). Mediation will be scheduled for no longer than 1 hour, so the student should prioritize his/her questions and concerns about the course and plan accordingly.

The purpose of mediation is to create a safe space in which student and instructor can communicate clearly to resolve any difficulties. As such, only the student and instructor may be present at the mediation along with office staff; if any other person(s) has relevant information to contribute, they may do so through written form. Office staff and Director(s) of First Year Composition will be present to help ensure that both teacher and student understand each other’s concerns and to help co-design a sustainable way forward for the remainder of the semester.

 After mediation, students can stay in contact with the FYC office staff if necessary to keep the staff apprised of the situation. If the student is unsatisfied with the resolution that comes from mediation and it is relevant to do so, they may file a grade appeal after the semester is over and before the grade challenge deadline. The deadline to begin the grade dispute process for a fall course is February 15th. The deadline to begin the grade dispute process for a spring course is September 15th.

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