As of Tuesday, the Faculty Senate approved the new Dead Week policy. The comprehensive Week Preceding Final Examinations (WPFE, as it is now officially called) policies will replace the current Dead Week and final examinations week guidelines after this semester. The changes, which define what is and is not allowed during the WPFE and finals week, were unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate at this week’s meeting.
“I think violations [of the old policy] were seen by almost every student,” said Alina Staskevicius, undergraduate student body president.
Because of student interest, SGA pursued overhauling Dead Week policy, which took more than eight months of work by two separate SGA administrations and countless faculty and staff.
“The current policy only allows quizzes and tests to be restricted during Dead Week. There is nothing else beyond that,” said Rob Parrish, SGA academic affairs chair.
The new WPFE policy implements several changes intended to improve upon the existing framework. It recognizes that two types of courses exist at Tech, those with traditional final exams and those with alternative assessments (such as labs and senior design courses). For courses with traditional final exams, WPFE policies stipulate that under no circumstances are tests or quizzes allowed during the WPFE. The new policies will allow home work and/or projects to be due during WPFE. Even so, projects due during this time period must be indicated on the course syllabus before the last day to drop courses with a grade of “W”.
The policy also states that major projects should have components due prior to WPFE. It specifically mentions that any homework over new material taught during WPFE will also have to be explicitly listed on the course syllabus by drop day.
Progress report grades of “S” or “U” will continue to be assigned for all classes numbered 1000 and 2000 each semester prior to the midterm. These grades will not be permanent and never appear on an official Institute transcript.
Courses with nontraditional assessments will adhere to a slightly different set of standards. Homework, lab reports and alternative assessments are the only items that may be due during WPFE.
The alternative assessment may consist of only a project or lab practicum. Lab reports may be due for such courses during WPFE only if assigned prior to that week. No additional assignments will be permitted during finals week. Homework can be due during WPFE only if it is listed in syllabus prior to drop day. The alternative assessment (e.g. project, lab report, etc.) can be administered or turned in during either WPFE or finals week.
Some faculty members present at the meeting voiced concern over possible future litigation against Tech or themselves and were worried about opening themselves and the Institute up to a legal risk. Their concerns were assuaged when the presenters of the WPFE policy agreed to change the wording in clause C.7. from “must” to “should”.
The clause originally read “All quizzes and tests must be graded and reported to students on or before the last day of class of WPFE.”
Ultimately, it was understood by the faculty members that the proposed changes would benefit them by better defining what is and is not allowed.
With regards to changing a class examination time during finals week, requests must be submitted to the chief academic officer for the department of instruction for approval no later than one week before the beginning of final examinations.
If a student has two exams scheduled for the same period, the conflict will be resolved by the course having the lowest number in the conflict. The final exam for that course will be administered during the exam conflict period.
Also, a student reporting to a final exam room more than fifteen minutes after the start time will not be allowed to take the exam without a satisfactory explanation to the instructor.
“I think this addresses the legitimate issues,” said Joseph Hughes, senior associate chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
According to the WPFE press release, students who believe that a professor is violating WPFE policies can follow the Student Academic Grievance Policy in the General Catalog.
“We plan to launch a marketing campaign so students know who to go to,” Staskevicius said.
All of the recently approved policies will appear in the course catalog sometime within the next year, likely by next semester.