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AY 2020-21 Academic Policies and Course Guidelines

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Over the summer, the Faculty Senate approved legislation for AY 2020-21 related to the academic calendar, class meeting patterns, and grading. Below is a summary of their decisions and related guidance for instructors.

  • Academic Calendar
  • Summer Quarter vs. Summer Session
    • Summer Quarter 2020-21 and Summer Session 2021 will be different from past summers. Below is a summary of these changes.

      • Summer Quarter 2020-21
        Summer Quarter 2020-21 will be a fourth 10-week academic quarter for matriculated Stanford students. These 10-week courses will not be available to visiting students.

        Departments and programs with questions about Summer Quarter course offerings should contact their Dean’s Office.
      • Summer Session 2021
        Summer Session 2021 will be offering a limited 8-week remote program for visiting students only. These 8-week courses will not be available to matriculated Stanford students.

        Questions about Summer Session should be directed to Danielle Wood, Associate Dean & Director of Summer Session
  • Grading Policy
  • Stanford-Funded Experiential Learning for Undergraduates
    • Given the four-quarter academic calendar, undergraduate students are expected to enroll for three quarters and have one Flex quarter. Full-time experiential learning opportunities such as research and Cardinal quarter that might have been available during a summer quarter are now available on a different timetable. Undergraduate student eligibility to apply for these opportunities is tied to their enrollment.

      Faculty with questions should contact their School’s Dean’s Office:

      The Registrar’s Office has information about the Flex quarter available to undergraduates in the Bulletin.

      Students with questions should contact their Academic Advisor in Academic Advising.

      Provost Drell’s 8/24/2020 Memo to Chairs, Directors, and DUS about Policies on Stanford-Funded Experiential Learning for Undergraduates, 2020-21

      • School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences: Robyn Dunbar
      • School of Engineering: Kirsti Copeland
      • School of Humanities and Sciences: Susan Weersing or Laura Schlosberg
  • Final Exam Policies
    • Because the 2020-21 academic calendar does not include exam weeks, traditional three-hour final exams are not allowable (Final Exams 2020-21). Instructors may administer an end-of quarter assessment, which can take a number of formats: an in-class exam, a take-home exam, or a final paper or project.

      Instructors may administer an in-class assessment during the last week (week 10) of the quarter, but it cannot exceed the length of the class meeting time. 

      Instructors may assign a traditional take-home exam, or one to be completed within a defined period of time. For example, an instructor may require students to complete a one-hour exam available within a 24-hour period. A timed take-home exam is permitted if it has electronic time-stamping and students are aware that their start and end times will be tracked electronically. A timed take-home exam does not violate the Honor Code. 

      Instructors in professional school courses (Business, Education, Law, Medicine) may administer final exams. If a professional school course is cross-listed in one of the other schools (Earth, Engineering, H&S), the instructor should consult with the student services officer in the department that owns the cross-listing to ensure that their course is in compliance with the exam policy. In these cases, it may be necessary to develop a separate syllabus and set of assessments for students in the cross-listed section of the course. 

      For questions about how to administer remote exams for students with approved accommodations from the OAE for extended time, email the Learning Technologies & Spaces team.

      If instructors assign a final paper or project, it must be due by the last day of the quarter.

      Instructors are discouraged from administering high-stakes assessments during the last week of the quarter. Instead, more frequent, lower-stakes assessments throughout the quarter are encouraged. This approach supports students learning and recognizes that students will have multiple assignment deadlines and assessments during week 10 of the quarter. Similarly, scaffolded assignments that build towards a final paper or project are encouraged. 
      Per the Board on Judicial Affairs interpretations of the Honor Code in a remote environment, “All assignments and exams conducted online must be open resource, meaning open-book and open-note. This includes informational resources available online. … In all cases, it is not permissible for students to enter exam questions into any software, apps, or websites. Accessing resources that directly explain how to answer questions from the actual assignment or exam is a violation of the Honor Code.”

  • Coterminal Student Policies
  • Auditing
    • Due to current health guidelines, no auditors are permitted to attend in-person classes. Remote auditing is available only to Stanford affiliates, who must complete and submit an Audit form. Instructor consent is required. Prior to permitting an auditor to attend a class, consider the format, content, and how it might alter the experience of enrolled students with an auditor present.

  • The Office of Accessible Education (OAE)
  • The Honor Code and Fundamental Standard
  • Resolving Incompletes in an Academic Year with No Final Exams
    • There may be students with grades of Incomplete from prior terms whose only outstanding work is a final exam. Because there are no final exams in AY 2020-21, instructors are strongly encouraged to identify an alternate way for the student to complete outstanding work.

      Here are some options that instructors might consider.

      While a student may request an extension of the Incomplete beyond the standard one-year time frame, instructors should be aware that this may have negative academic consequences for the student:

      • Have the student take the final exam offered when the student was enrolled in the course.
      • Have the student take an alternate final exam. It may be necessary to create a new final exam if the final exam for the prior term was returned to students and would be reasonably available to the student.
      • Identify an alternate assignment or assessment(s) equivalent in weight to the original final exam.
      • Having to relearn material
      • Delaying enrollment in sequenced series of courses
      • Preventing declaration of a major
      • Delaying completion of degree or university requirements, and possibly graduation
  • How a student may request an exception
    • Many forms for exceptions are available as eforms.

      Undergraduate students should meet with their Academic Advisors to discuss requests for exceptions. 

      Academic Advising has a webpage about requesting exceptions, including:

      Graduate students should consult with their advisor or program’s student services officer to discuss requests for exception. Many forms for graduate student exception requests are available as eforms, including:

      Additional information about late withdrawals and late change to grading basis is available from the Registrar’s Office.

      • Late study list
      • Late add/drop
      • Exceed maximum units
      • Late change of unit total
      • Late withdrawal
      • Extension of an Incomplete
      • Course enrollment change petition (for late add, late change of unit total, late study list, extension of an Incomplete)
      • Section change request
      • Course withdrawal petition (for late withdrawal)
  • Student concern about a course
    • If a student has a concern about a course, they should first speak with the course instructor. If the matter is not resolved, the issue should be escalated to the Department Chair or Director of the Program offering the course. Only when the concern is not addressed at the department or program level should a student contact the relevant School Dean’s Office.

      Chairs and Directors are listed in the Stanford Bulletin. Select the school in the left menu, then the department or program. Chairs and Directors are listed on the Faculty tab for each department and program.

  • Title IX and Sexual Harassment
    • University policy prohibiting Harassment and Discrimination applies to all conduct occurring within a program or activity of the University, including during online instruction sessions and in virtual classroom settings, regardless of where students, staff, and faculty are located.

      Responsible employees are required to report to the University incidents of sexual misconduct, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, or exploitation of a sexual nature by contacting the SHARE Title IX Office at or 650-497-4955. For additional information about Title IX and related University polies, as well as available University resources and offices, please see the Title IX Office website.

      If you are engaged in teaching at Stanford and want more information about sexual harassment and sexual violence intervention, prevention, and support, please refer to the SHARE (SARA) Office’s Instructor Guidelines pamphlet.