Resolution #5: Concerning the Development of Academic Skills
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
UB and individual schools and departments maintain, strengthen, better publicize, and recommend such courses. In addition, academic units should take every opportunity to invent other courses and prominently include these skills in such courses as The University Experience, if they are not already included. These ideas can be accomplished by:
Resolution #6: Concerning Faculty-Student Dialogue
All the above teaching-learning interactions need to be continually communicated and shared to create and maintain a culture of teaching and learning,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
The Provost, in collaboration with the Deans, initiate discussions with the various campus student organizations about the above issues, including perhaps the following as a minimum:
Comments and Observations:
This Class Absence Policy states the basic considerations governing class absences to be included in instructors' assessments of students' performance. It provides guidance for both faculty and students, but omits lengthy and detailed specifications of minutiae. The obligations it sets for faculty and students are reasonable and feasible.
The principles stated in the opening paragraph of this policy are undoubtedly widely understood and observed. It is the infrequent - but sometimes very serious - violations of these that require the policy. The basic responsibilities of faculty and students are specified to prevent so far as possible misunderstandings, misinterpretations or misapplications of the principles and - in the worst cases - failure to observe the principles. Unfortunately, such misunderstandings and failures have occurred, to the chagrin of all involved: students, faculty, and academic officers to whom problems are appealed. A clear and widely disseminated policy is a primary requirement for preventing and - when necessary - resolving these problems.
The claim that it is sufficient to urge faculty to have a "reasonable" absence policy - e.g., the opening paragraph is all the policy required - leaves what is reasonable indeterminate. That indeterminacy provides neither adequate guidance for faculty and students nor adequate basis for action in a dispute by a unit chair or other academic administrative officer in the unfortunate cases where that becomes necessary. Those inadequacies are evidenced by the discussions of the policy, as well as by disputes between and among faculty and students and by the problems that have led to the formulation of this policy.
The policy is neither formulated only for small courses nor feasible only in such settings; it is equally applicable to large - over 200 students - courses. It applies to all required assignments - including laboratory work - and exams for students who are justifiably absent. It permits an instructor to require the student to complete the original assignment if that be feasible; it permits an instructor to waive a justifiably missed activity and base the course grade on completed activities only. The policy is not solely for absences due to student participation in intercollegiate athletics. Those are included and addressed; equally included and addressed are absences - in the experience of some more frequent and in that sense more significant - due to student participation in other courses and University activities.
That justified absences not be penalized is a matter of fairness. Faculty are on occasion absent from class for good reason [including personal emergencies], unable to arrange a substitute, not penalized, and yet request or require additional effort from their students to compensate for the lost instructional activity. Students deserve parallel consideration.
Finally, this policy is not a license to neglect course activities. It does not excuse students who miss classes because they forgot, sleep through exams because they studied all night, or do not get to laboratories because they were mesmerized by the weather channel. Unjustified absences merit neither remedy nor defense; none is here provided.
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University at Buffalo (North Campus)
Buffalo, New York 14260-1680