Chapter 3: Course Instruction Procedure and Guidelines

3.1 Course/Instruction Procedures and Guidelines
3.1.1 Course Modifications and New Courses
3.1.2 Faculty Office Hours
3.1.3 Advising Students
3.1.4 Course Syllabi
3.1.5 Distribution of the Syllabus
3.2 Class Periods
3.2.1 Class List
3.2.2 Class Attendance
3.3 Disruptive Behavior
3.4 Cheating, Plagiarism, and Academic Integrity
3.5 Tests and Examinations
3.5.1 Types of Examinations
3.5.2 Examination Scheduling
3.5.3 Absence from Final Examinations
3.5.4 Machine Scoring of Examinations
3.5.5 Examination File
3.6 Grades and Grading
3.6.1 Approved Grading Symbols and Definitions
3.6.2 Grading Policies
3.6.3 Transfer Grades
3.7 Academic Achievement Awards
3.8 Textbooks and Academic Supplies

3.1 Course/Instruction Procedures and Guidelines

Faculty members have sole discretion on classroom pedagogy.  Faculty members are scholars, skilled communicators, educators, and mentors.  Techniques for teaching vary with subject matter, class size, and academic level of the students enrolled.  Faculty members adopt the best teaching method for the course and subject matter they teach.  Course content in all cases should reflect the catalog description.

3.1.1 Course Modifications and New Courses

New course proposals and course modifications follow a similar path.

For Undergraduate courses:  Forms for both new course proposals and course modifications can be found at the Undergraduate Programs Curriculum Committee (UPCC) website.

Normally a course is proposed or changed by a unit curriculum committee.  The course proposal/change form then goes to the college curriculum committee for approval, to the college dean, and then to UPCC.  Once approved by UPCC, the form is signed by the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and submitted to the Office of Student Records.

For Graduate courses:  The form for both new course proposals and modifications, as well as instructions, can be found at

1.  The College forwards the approved course forms to the Graduate School.

  1. All new courses and courses with extensive modifications are presented before the Graduate School Graduate Curriculum Committee (GCC) by the course instructor.
  2. Once courses are reviewed/approved by the Graduate Curriculum Committee, courses are submitted before the Graduate Board for final review.  Once approved by the Graduate Board, they are signed by the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and submitted to the Office of Student Records.

Experimental courses:  Both undergraduate and graduate new courses may be submitted once as experimental courses, bypassing the UPCC or the Graduate Curriculum Committee.  They are approved by the Provost or the Graduate Dean directly.  If such a course becomes a permanent offering, it must be resubmitted through the normal approval process.

3.1.2 Faculty Office Hours

Each faculty member should schedule times when he or she will be available to consult with students.  The course syllabus normally lists office hours and faculty post hours on their office doors.  In addition, some faculty will schedule appointments at other times with students, as well as confer by phone or email.  Faculty who teach online classes normally set up chat room, Skype, or email arrangements and, for students on campus, may have live office hours.

3.1.3 Inclement Weather Policy

The university’s policy on class cancellations attributable to inclement weather can be found at:


3.1.4 Advising Students

Academic advising.  As part of their regularly assigned duties, faculty members act as academic advisors. The number of students per advisor is variable.  A major part of advising is discussing course choices with students and checking progress toward a degree.  Ultimately, however, each student is responsible for satisfying degree requirements.  Advisors also commonly discuss future career and education paths with students.

If a student requires further personal, academic, or career counseling, the advisor may suggest contacting the Counseling Center (phone 581-1392, online at and/or the Career Planning and Placement Office (phone 581-1359, online at The Counseling Center provides counseling to students experiencing stress, problems in balancing new and old relationships, or problems with balancing family and school.  The Career Planning and Placement Office offers career development counseling and help in finding a job.

Thesis and Dissertation Guidance. The Graduate School publishes “Guidelines for Thesis/Dissertation/Project Preparation” containing the rules and regulations for the format(s) required for the thesis or dissertation. The manual is available online at The Graduate School also conducts workshop sessions each fall/spring on thesis and dissertation preparation. The dates for presenting the thesis and holding the oral examination are available from the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of the student to ascertain appropriate due dates. Graduate School information is available online at

3.1.5 Course Syllabi

A printed or online syllabus is an outline of course content, goals and objectives, basic information about the instructor’s procedures and policies, and selected University information.

The content of syllabi varies. Departments may establish specific guidelines for the syllabi. The syllabus provides information to assist in student/instructor communication and provides guidelines for successful class performance. It presents a planned course administration, assisting both students and instructor in organization and time management, distribution of work load, etc. It also provides relevant information that university units or outside agencies review.

Please remember that your syllabus is your contract with the students who take your class. As such, it spells out your expectations of their work and clearly articulates the requirements for your course.

The Undergraduate Program Curriculum Committee (UPCC) provides a syllabus template that faculty may choose to use when developing or modifying a syllabus:

Topics Often Covered in the Syllabus:

1)  A Heading including the course name and number, the academic unit, and the semester/year;

2)  A Course Description, including Course Goals or Objectives. Full-sentence student learning outcomes are a required component of all new or modified course syllabi submitted for UPCC review.  Explanation of method and theory may be added. [It is useful to include the general education requirements satisfied by the course.]

3) Tentative schedule for course. Additional information may be posted on line throughout the semester.

4) Required and suggested textbooks.

5) Instructor information: office hours, e-mail address, telephone number. Instructors may indicate a preferred method of contact (e.g., FirstClass, home telephone).

6) Assessment methods.  Type and number of exams, quizzes and projects may be listed. Format of exams or assessment, equipment, and make-up policy should be included. If examinations are held outside of usual class meeting times, the dates, place, and times may be provided.

7) Grading Policy and Grading Scale. The percentage of the final grade allocated to lab, homework, attendance, final projects, and examinations is stated. A list of criteria for evaluating projects, portfolios, or oral presentations may be provided.

8) Policies on cheating and plagiarism. (Defined in the pamphlet “Academic Honesty and Dishonesty.”

9) Homework: when homework is due, format, general grading procedures.

10) Attendance. Attendance policy, and any penalty for tardiness or missed classes should be indicated. [See following section on attendance.]

11) Labs. Information on the conduct and length of laboratory time is provided.

12) Special Instructions. Information regarding disabilities, special needs, prerequisites, field trips, special equipment requirements, etc. are listed.

13) Safety and Evacuation Plans. Certain courses may require covering safety aspects including evacuation procedures in an emergency on the syllabus.

The Graduate School follows the same general format for the syllabus as UPCC.  Specific guidance for the development of graduate syllabi may be obtained from the Graduate School office (581-3217).

There are three policy statements required for every syllabus at the University of Maine:

1)      Academic Honesty Statement: Academic honesty is very important. It is dishonest to cheat on exams, to copy term papers, to submit papers written by another person, to fake experimental results, or to copy or reword parts of books or articles into your own papers without appropriately citing the source.  Students committing or aiding in any of these violations may be given failing grades for an assignment or for an entire course, at the discretion of the instructor.  In addition to any academic action taken by an instructor, these violations are also subject to action under the University of Maine Student Conduct Code.  The maximum possible sanction under the student conduct code is dismissal from the University.

2)      Students Accessibility Services Statement [This should be customized to include the instructor’s name]: If you have a disability for which you may be requesting an accommodation, please contact Student Accessibility Services, 121 East Annex, 581.2319, as early as possible in the term. Students who have already been approved for accommodations by SAS and have a current accommodation letter should meet with me (the instructor of the course) privately as soon as possible.

3)      Course Schedule Disclaimer (Disruption Clause): In the event of an extended disruption of normal classroom activities, the format for this course may be modified to enable its completion within its programmed time frame. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to the syllabus that will supersede this version.

 3.1.6 Distribution of the Syllabus

Syllabi should be provided to every student in the course. Department or unit procedures often require copies in the department or unit offices (or available online). Syllabi are provided to students before or during the first class periods.  Alternatively or in addition, syllabi may be posted online for student access.

3.2 Class Periods

Usually, class periods are equivalent to 150 minutes per week per semester for a three-credit course. Classes may be divided into three 50-minute periods, two 75-minute periods, a single meeting once a week, or some other format.  Laboratories range from one to four periods (e.g., equivalent to one to four 50 minute periods), depending upon the course.

3.2.1 Class Roster

Official class rosters are provided on MaineStreet.  The presence of a student’s name on the roster as “enrolled” indicates registration for the course (inclusive of students auditing the course) and authorization for that student to attend class. Additions and deletions to the list occur during the add-and-drop period. Students who have dropped will appear on MaineStreet as “dropped.” If a student’s name does not appear on the MaineStreet class roster, faculty should alert the office of Student Records.

3.2.2 Class Attendance

The overall policy of the University is that students are responsible for attending all class meetings for courses for which they are registered. Each instructor determines the specific attendance policy for the course and makes it known to students through the course syllabus and in class during the first week of classes. Instructors may assign a lower letter grade for students’ failure to adhere to the attendance policy.

Students sometimes miss classes because of ill health, family emergency, or other reason beyond their control. It is the student’s responsibility to notify instructors of the reasons for missing class and to make arrangements for making up missed work. If absences are extensive, even for legitimate reasons, it may be impossible to meet the objectives of the course. In such instances the instructor may assign a grade of Incomplete.

Students may miss class due to authorized on- or off-campus university functions, such as varsity athletics, band, or drama.  Faculty should be notified by an appropriate entity (e.g., athletic department, music or theater department) early in the semester.

There is a policy regarding student athletes and missed classes.  Athletic schedules should be prepared so that no more than 10% of class sessions in any course will be missed due to participation in athletic events.  Last-minute changes may be necessary due to rain-outs and comparable situations.  Faculty are responsible for providing reasonable make-up work opportunities for students with bona fide excused absence for athletic participation, per the Faculty Senate resolution passed in May 1995.

3.3 Disruptive Behavior

Disruptive behavior may be subject to disciplinary action or intervention. Problems such as excessive tardiness, lack of courtesy, or other behavior inappropriate in the classroom should be discussed with the appropriate dean or director.The Associate Dean of the Graduate School is the contact for all graduate student complaints.

All crisis situations should be immediately reported to the UMaine Police at 581-4040 or 911 and to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students (581-1406).  A crisis is any situation in which there is reasonable cause to suspect that there is an imminent risk to the health and safety of a student and/or UMaine community member.

In situations where staff have concerns about a student’s behavior and do not believe it constitutes a crisis, or are in doubt about whether it constitutes a crisis, the following offices may be contacted and/or consulted:

UMaine Police                                                581-4040

Vice President for Student Life                     581-1406

Counseling Center                                          581-1392

Instructors may ask disruptive students to leave their classroom at any time.

The Division of Student Life has developed a Student Behavior Review Team (SBRT), which will review any student situation that involves medical, mental health, or behavioral problems.  SBRT is a team of professionals from across the campus and across disciplines that reviews cases and recommends to the Vice President for Student Life timely responses and interventions for student situations where student behavior raises concern. The goal is always to fashion a careful and appropriate outreach or intervention to students who are struggling in or outside the classroom.  SBRT is co-chaired by the Director of the Counseling Center and the Assistant Vice President for Student Life.

More information on SBRT can be found at

If you have a concern about a UMaine student, you can contact the Assistant Vice President for Student Life at 207-581-1406 (weekdays) or at 581-4040 (24/7).  Referrals to SBRT also can be made via an online form available at:

Statements concerning disruptive behavior that a faculty member may choose to put on your syllabus can be found at:

3.4 Cheating, Plagiarism, and Academic Integrity

While rare, incidents of academic dishonesty, e.g., cheating, academic misconduct, fabrication or plagiarism, do occur at the University of Maine.  Should you suspect that there has been such a violation in one of your classes, there are several things that should be kept in mind:

  1. All incidents must be reported to the Office of Community Standards (581-1409).  This allows the campus to monitor for students who may have been involved in multiple incidents.
  2.        As a faculty member you have the following options in handling the matter:
  3. You may handle it exclusively within your classroom jurisdiction.  A faculty member, of course, is the only person who may assign a failing or reduced grade as part of a sanction.
  4. You may refer the case to the appropriate Dean, the Dean of the Graduate School, or the Provost.
  5. The case may be referred to the Conduct Officer for adjudication under the UMS Student Conduct Code.  This procedure affords a greater variety of sanctions than is available to the faculty member, but cannot impact the grade awarded.
  6. You may do a combination of the above.

Complete details, including sanction guidelines and the “Academic Integrity Violation Report Form,” can be found at:  The Academic Integrity Violation Report Form describes the process in detail including information and materials to provide with the Report Form.  The form is submitted to the Office of Community Standards, Rights, and Responsibilities (OCSRR), 315 Memorial Union.

This site also has a link to the Student Honor Code published in the Student Handbook.  The violations related to academic dishonesty are listed under section III.

3.5 Examinations

Examinations are common and important assessment tools. The terminology used at the University of Maine, types of examinations given, and information on scheduling examinations follows.

Quiz. A brief examination designed to occupy only part of a class period and to cover a small fragment of work.

Prelim or Exam. An examination designed to occupy an entire class period and to cover a major unit of work.

Final. An examination given during the final exam week lasting for two hours or more.  The final examination should count for no more than one-third of the course grade, although exceptions may be made by the instructor in consultation with the chairperson of the department in which the course is offered.

No examinations of any kind may be scheduled during the last week of classes, except by permission of the appropriate Associate Dean or Director. A final examination may be scheduled only during final exam week. If a final is not planned, and the instructor wishes to schedule a prelim covering the last weeks of the course, this prelim must be given during final exam week.  These rules do not apply to Continuing Education Division courses.

Students who are scheduled for more than three final examinations in one day or have two exams scheduled at the same time may have an examination rescheduled through the Office of Student Records or by conferring with their professors.

The scheduled final exam day and time is listed on MaineStreet.

3.5.1 Types of Examinations

Instructors are free to choose the type of test offered, e.g., essay, true-false, multiple choice. Machine scoring is compatible with true-false and multiple-choice tests. The instructor usually proctors the test.  Each department makes its own arrangements for the printing or duplicating of examinations.

3.5.3 Absence from Final Examinations

A student with a legitimate reason (i.e., written or similar documentation for health or extenuating personal circumstances) for missing a regular final examination may arrange with the instructor to make up the exam.

Details on incomplete grades follow in the section “Grades and Grading.”

3.5.4 Machine Scoring of Examinations

The Faculty Development Center (149 Memorial Union) provides an optical scanning test scoring service for the faculty. Reports include information such as Frequency Distribution Item Analysis, Test Results by Student, and Student Response Report. Normally, scores are available within 24 hours of receipt of the tests. For more information go to:

3.5.5 Examination File

Copies of recent final examinations for student use may be placed at the Reserve Desk in Fogler Library. Filing examination questions at the Library is optional for faculty. Fraternity or sorority houses and some dormitories may have their own examination files. Some faculty members may make previous exams available electronically.

3.6 Grades and Grading

The faculty have sole responsibility for assigning grades. Grading of college-level courses requires specific disciplinary knowledge that is gained only through advanced study in a discipline and for many fields requires constant updating of specific knowledge.  This expertise is the sole domain of the university faculty and cannot be infringed upon without negatively impacting the quality of the education of the students.

3.6.1 Approved Grading Symbols and Definitions

Complete information regarding grades and grading can be found in the Undergraduate Catalogue ( and choose “Grades and Grading” from the topics on the right).

A condensed version follows:

The University of Maine uses a letter-grade system ranging from A to F. Faculty members have the option of adding + (no A+) and – grades to the basic letter grades, but such fine distinctions may be inappropriate for many courses. Whatever the system used, it is important to understand that there is no University-wide equivalence between percentage grades (such as 80%) and letter grades (such as B). Each instructor makes these determinations according to the grading system described in the course syllabus.

The qualitative value of the five basic letter grades is defined as follows:

  • A, Superior work.
  • B, Good work.
  • C, Satisfactory but undistinguished work.
  • D, Poor work that does not adequately prepare students for more advanced work in the discipline. While some courses completed with D grades may contribute towards the total credits needed for graduation, others may be unacceptable for certain specific requirements and within the academic major.
  • F, Failure. No credit is earned for a failed course.  If a student has not participated in at least half of the class, then the L grade is appropriate.

The grades A-F have the following numerical values used in calculating a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA):

A = 4.00 B = 3.00 C = 2.00 D = 1.00
A- = 3.67 B- = 2.67 C- = 1.67 D- = 0.67
B+ = 3.33 C+ = 2.33 D+ = 1.33 F = 0.00

The University uses a variety of grades on transcripts to designate special circumstances. These include:

  • AU, assigned only for courses taken under the audit option.
  • DG, deferred grade. This is used only for courses that extend beyond a single semester.
  • F*, for a course failed on the pass/fail grading option. No credit is earned and the GPA is not affected.
  • I, for “Incomplete.” This grade means that, in consultation with the student, the instructor has postponed the assignment of a final grade to allow the student to complete specific work not turned in before the end of the semester. Instructors assign the “I” grade only when they are persuaded that events beyond the student’s control prevented the completion of assigned work on time and when the student has participated in more than 50% of the class. If the incomplete work is not submitted within the time allotted by the faculty member, the grade will automatically be changed to an “F” grade. Students receiving an “I” grade are not allowed to re-register for the same course until the incomplete has been made up or converted to an “F” grade. A student receiving an “I” grade may not make up missed work by sitting-in on the course the next time it is taught. Refer to the Incomplete Grade and Graduation section below.
  • L, Failure for lack of participation. This grade indicates that a student participated in less than 50% of the class, but did not formally withdraw from the course. This grade counts the same as an F.
  • LP, Low Pass, for a course passed on the pass/fail grading option with a D+, D, or D. Credit is earned, but the grade point average (GPA) is not affected.
  • P, for a course passed on the pass/fail grading option with a C- or above. Credit is earned, but the grade point average (GPA) is not affected.
  • TH, final grade deferred. This is used only for the undergraduate thesis.
  • W, indicating that the student officially withdrew from the course.

3.6.2 Graduate School Grading

Normally, only a grade of A or B is acceptable for course work on a student’s program of study. A grade of C may carry graduate degree credit if a student’s advisory committee so recommends and if the Graduate School approves such an exception. No student, however, will be allowed to accumulate more than six hours of C grades on a program of study for a master’s degree, nor more than 12 hours of C grades on a program of study for a Ph.D. or Ed.D. Grades below C are not considered acceptable for any graduate student.  More information can be found in the Graduate Catalogue ( and select “General Policies” from the list on the left).

3.6.3 Submittal of Final Grades

At the end of each semester, Final Grade Rosters must be submitted on MaineStreet five days from the day of the final examination. If final papers or projects are given, Final Grade Rosters are due five days from the last day of finals week.  Prompt reporting of grades lets the Committee on Academic Standing make decisions on students’ futures and is needed for graduation processing.

Students Not Listed on Roster. If a student is attending the course but his or her name does not appear on the Grade Roster, please send an email message (from your account only) to and include the student’s full name, student ID, course, section, number of credits, and grade.  Grades cannot be accepted via telephone.

3.6.4 Appealing Grades and Assignments

The University of Maine has formal procedures by which students may appeal the assignment of grades by an instructor, accusations of cheating or plagiarism, or certain aspects of classroom procedure.

Detailed procedures at the undergraduate level can be found at:

Procedures for appealing a grade at the graduate level can be found at:

3.6.5 Transfer Grades.

See transfer policy in the Undergraduate Catalogue ( and choose “Transfer Credit” from the topics on the right).

3.6.6 Study Abroad Credits.

Students are best advised to consult both the Office of International Programs and the Department(s) to which they plan to seek approval for study abroad credits. Approval of a program of study prior to going abroad is essential.

3.6.7 FERPA

Advisors and all faculty members should be aware of FERPA (Family and Education Privacy Act), the federal law which prohibits reporting information regarding a student to others. The Associate Dean of the faculty member’s College or the Office of Equal Opportunity may also advise on what information concerning a student advisee may or may not be given out. See

3.6.8 Special Reports on Students.

Instructors may report a student in danger of academic failure to the student’s academic dean. Reports may be written or verbal. Students in danger of failure may be referred or reported to the Dean of Students, the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center, Police and Safety, the academic advisor, or the student’s academic dean.

3.6.9  Change of Grade Policy

Instructors desiring to change a grade after official posting should submit a grade change request to the MaineStreet Grade Roster.  Normally, grade changes are a result of clerical errors or errors of omission.  Grade changes made beyond six months of the end of a semester require approval from the Dean or designee.  If the faculty member wants to appeal the decision of the Dean or Dean’s designee, the Provost will convene an ad hoc committee consisting of three full professors, at least one of whom must be from the faculty member’s college and one of whom must be from another college.  The decision of this review committee shall be final.

When entering the grade change on MaineStreet, the instructor should enter a brief written rationale containing their reasons for wanting to change the grade.

If a student wishes to improve a grade, then the option to repeat the course should be considered.  For policy regarding incomplete grades, please see the incomplete grade policy in this catalogue.

3.7 Academic Achievement Awards

Full-time Dean’s List. The Dean’s List is prepared at the end of each semester. To be eligible for the Full-Time Dean’s List, a student must have completed 12 or more calculable credits in the semester and have earned a 3.50 or higher semester GPA.

Part-time Dean’s List.  Students who have part-time status during both the fall and spring semesters of a given academic year are eligible for Part-time Dean’s List. They must have completed 12 or more calculable credits over both terms and have earned a combined GPA in those terms of 3.50.

Presidential Scholar Award

To be eligible for the Presidential Scholar Achievement, a student must be degree-seeking and have completed 12 or more calculable credits in the semester and have earned a 4.0 semester GPA.

3.8 Textbooks and Academic Supplies

The Bookstore uses a self-service textbook selection system that allows students to search for books for their courses themselves. It is important to have complete information from each faculty member regarding course textbook needs.

How to Order Textbooks

Information for ordering from the university bookstore can be found at:

The Bookstore sets target deadline dates for ordering textbooks:  Fall and Summer Semesters: before April 30. Spring Semester: before November 1.

When a text is selected for a course, the value of used copies increases dramatically. During finals week buy-back, the Bookstore pays more for books that will be reused on campus the next semester. The goal is to maximize the number of used texts available to students. Early textbook orders allow the Bookstore time to buy books from other campuses through text wholesalers.

Special academic supplies or materials for a course also can be ordered through the Bookstore.

If a requested text is out-of-print, out-of-stock, being replaced by a new edition, or there are any other problems, the faculty member may need time to choose a replacement.

The reserve book desk of Fogler Library may make hard and electronic copies of course materials available.  Advance requests are essential.

Custom Publishing

The Bookstore is the central point for producing customized course materials. Course packets are produced at a reasonable cost. Printing Services also conducts copyright clearances and secures permissions where necessary. Faculty members provide full source information for the documents copied.

Desk Copies

Major publishers require that desk copy requests come from a faculty member and/or the department. The Bookstore maintains an up-to-date listing of publishers, addresses, phone/fax numbers, and names of sales representatives for major publishing companies.

Text Returns to Publishers

Due to increasingly restrictive return policies, unsold texts are returned to publishers after the fifth week of the semester. Students who wait this long to purchase books may find texts unavailable.

Academic Supplies

The Bookstore carries pencils, pens, notebooks, paper, rulers, highlighters, staplers, folders, report covers, special papers, poster board, fine writing instruments and many other specialty items. It also has art, engineering, and forestry supplies, both required and supplemental, for classes. Computers and software are available at the Computer Connection (located in the Bookstore).