WSE Teaching Policies and Guidelines

Spring 2024 Teaching Policies and Guidelines

The purpose of this page is to remind WSE faculty of key policies and recommended practices for your course(s) this coming semester. We have collected these policies and recommendations in a single location for easy access and referral.

For full details on all academic policies and procedures, please see the e-catalogue.

Please let us know if you have any questions about these matters, or if you have suggestions about other issues that should be addressed in similar communications. Many thanks for all that you do to support the University’s teaching mission at such a high level of excellence.

Headshot of Dr. Michael Falk, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education

Michael Falk, PhD

Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education
[email protected]

Headshot of Janet Weise, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Janet Weise, MEd

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs
[email protected]

Expectations regarding recording lecture content and alternative formats (WSE only)

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WSE students have benefited from the ability to review recorded class lectures that they could not attend in person due to a need to self-isolate or other exigencies. Maximizing the ability for students to learn both inside and outside of the classroom is an important aspect of universal design for learning (UDL), as it benefits all learners and reduces barriers to academic success. Equally important is engaging students in an interactive in-person learning environment. At the recommendation of the WSE Faculty Senate Committee on Technology in the Classroom the Dean’s office requests WSE faculty provide one or more alternative means for students to review the contents of class sessions within 24 hours of the class in which these were delivered. This may be achieved via means other than recording live lectures. Various means for meeting this pedagogical goal are outlined below.

Alternative Formats

  • Recorded Live Lectures: Recordings made of lectures using Zoom or other technologies uploaded to Panopto and provided via the Canvas LMS to ensure FERPA compliance.
  • Curated Recorded Class Lectures: Recorded lectures from a previous semester can be provided if the same content is covered and the audio and visual quality is clear so long as these videos do not contain identifiable information (names, images, voices) of students from prior enrollments.
  • Pre-Recorded Lectures: Pre-recorded lectures using technology that creates high-quality audio and visual (usually a screen recording). These can be created at home, in your office, or using CLDT’s studios.
  • Lecture Notes: Detailed lecture notes that explain the material covered in class should be accompanied by guidance as to which content is covered in each class session and its relative importance.
  • Presentation Slides: Presentation slides may be sufficient so long as they provide enough detail for students to understand the content and context, otherwise they should be supplemented by lecture audio recordings or transcriptions. There is useful related information at these websites:
  • Textbooks: Where a textbooks or other published sources are required and followed by the instructor, these should be supplemented by a guide that clearly communicates the content covered in each class session, where it can be found in the texts, and its relative importance.

To help address concerns about student attendance at in-person class sessions, at the Committee’s recommendation the Dean’s office requests that all faculty incorporate best practices for in-person engagement into their classes. The appendix to this document lists established best practices for creating an engaging classroom experience. If instructors need support creating any of the alternative formats or assistance implementing teaching strategies, please contact the Center for Learning Design & Technology.

COVID-19 specific guidance

University-wide information about COVID-19 policies can be found at the JHU Coronavirus Information site.

We remind you that instructors may not:

  • Ask about the vaccination status of any other JHU affiliate.
  • Be notified of which JHU affiliates are unvaccinated.
  • Create class-specific policies regarding masking and/or vaccination status.

Please let the appropriate Vice Dean of Education (KSAS undergraduate: Erin Rowe, KSAS graduate: Mary Favret, WSE undergraduate: Michael Falk, WSE graduate: Sridevi Sarma/Christine Kavanagh) know if you have any questions. We are here to talk through any questions/concerns you may have.

Spring Break

There will be a week-long Spring break from March 18-22, 2024. We ask that you consider not assigning your students work that must be completed during the break periods. The last day of classes for standard semester courses will be April 26, 2024.

Canvas and the Canvas Gradebook

The Canvas learning management system is the official learning management system maintained by the university. Canvas provides many features to help facilitate your course including posting and collecting assignments, sharing content, sharing your syllabus, and communicating announcements to students. If you have not used Canvas, training and help guides are available from the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation.

Faculty are strongly encouraged to use the Gradebook. This allows you and/or your teaching assistant to post grades for assignments and exams. Use of the Canvas Gradebook eliminates the need to keep a separate record, however, the gradebook can be exported as an Excel file if you need to work in a spreadsheet. Using the Gradebook also allows you to efficiently communicate grades and feedback to students in a way that is FERPA compliant.

It is possible to calculate final course grades in Canvas and upload them to SIS. (Note that this functionality is not available for combined rosters.) However, faculty should not publish final course grades to students through Canvas before students complete their course evaluations. The Gradebook’s “Total” column is hidden from students by default for this reason.

There are several resources regarding Canvas and grading that you may find useful:

New Information about Canvas and Heliocampus (AEFIS) Course Syllabus

We want to bring to your attention two important changes to our expectations regarding how you retain student work and provide access to syllabi.

All student work collected in electronic formats should be submitted through the Canvas LMS. In cases where this is not the practice, faculty are responsible for providing a written plan to their department by the first day of classes explaining how and where they are storing such submissions and how these can be accessed by the department in case of an emergency.

Many things can happen to disrupt our work throughout a semester. This can include illness or incapacitation of faculty or teaching assistants in addition to weather and public health-related eventualities. To ensure that we maintain access to the work our students have completed and continue to offer the best academic experience possible even when difficult situations arise, it is essential that all student work is stored in a place that will be accessible to the university even if you or your teaching assistants are unavailable. Preferentially, work contributing to a student’s grade should be submitted via the university Canvas site, which is our centrally supported learning management system.

If students undertake work on a paper, project, and/or research that is not easily submittable electronically to Canvas, you must make sure that this work stays in your possession or is securely stored. These materials must remain on university property (including university technology and physical spaces) so that they can be retrieved in case of an unforeseen personal disruption. You are responsible for providing information to your department by the first day of classes regarding how any such materials not stored in Canvas can be accessed.

All courses produced by WSE departments and centers must maintain syllabi in HelioCampus (formerly AEFIS), the university’s system of record for program assessment. This is easily accomplished through the Canvas LMS.

The requirement for syllabus submissions via HelioCampus/Canvas ensures that syllabi are entered uniformly with all appropriate language about ABET student outcomes as well as a link to our posted teaching policies and the text of our academic policies regarding disability and mental health services, academic integrity, and inclusivity. This will provide a database of syllabi that are searchable as well as links to course syllabi from SIS at the time of course registration. The “Course Syllabus” link in the Canvas LMS now links to the syllabus template in HelioCampus. For syllabi that do not easily conform to the HelioCampus format, essential information can be entered in the HelioCampus form accompanied by a PDF version of the complete syllabus. The Dean’s office will no longer post a syllabus template since the HelioCampus submission form now serves this function.

Graded work before the drop deadline

The last day a student can drop a Term I class is February 11, 2024. The last day a student can drop a semester-long class is at the end of the sixth full week of classes, March 3, 2024. The last day a student can drop a Term II class is April 14, 2024. It is helpful for students to have a chance to review some graded work before that date so that they can make an informed judgment as to whether or not to drop a course. Specific information about drop dates is available on the registrar’s website.

Audits (not available to undergraduate students)

When a graduate student enrolls in a course with Audit status, they must reach an understanding with the instructor in writing as to what is required to earn the AU grade notation. If the student does not meet those expectations (e.g., fails to attend class), the instructor will notify the Office of the Homewood Registrar in order for the student to be retroactively dropped from the course. Dropped coursework does not appear on the student’s transcript.

Changing a course registration from Audit (student receives no letter grade) to Credit (student receives letter grade), or from Credit to Audit is permissible during the official deadlines for each semester. Registration changes beyond this deadline are not permissible.

Changing a final grade (A through F, Pass, I, IP, MR, or X) to AU is not permissible at any time.

The following ASEN Graduate Courses cannot be taken for Audit:

  • Graduate Research
  • Dissertation Research
  • Master’s Thesis
  • Master’s Essay
  • Independent Study

These courses can only be taken as P/F or for a letter grade, at the instructor’s purview.

Student illness and class attendance

Class attendance is a student responsibility and is expected of all JHU undergraduate students. Occasionally, health, family or personal matters may interfere with their ability to attend class. In this situation, the student is expected to notify their professors as soon as they are able about missing class and discuss how to make up missed class time or assignments. It is the professor’s responsibility to create a policy on how to handle these situations, this should be outlined in the syllabus.

Anxiety, stress, and mental health (syllabus insert)

The following italicized verbiage has already been included on the syllabus template:

Mental Health Statement

JHU has several resources to support students. Many students struggle at times with stress, anxiety, and depression. The Counseling Center has many resources available to students:

Johns Hopkins University Student Well-Being (

In addition, The Johns Hopkins University Behavioral Health Crisis Support Team (BHCST) pairs experienced, compassionate crisis clinicians with specially trained public safety officers on every shift on and around the Homewood campus, seven days a week. The BHCST will provide immediate assistance to those who need it and, just as importantly, link individuals in crisis to ongoing support services in the days and weeks that follow. Call Public Safety, 410-516-5600, and ask for a BHCST clinician.

If you have concerns about a specific student, please contact:

  • For emergencies (threat to self or others): 410-516-4600 or 911
  • For on-scene mental health support: BHCST at 410-516-4600
  • For undergraduates: Student Outreach & Support at 410-516-7857 or [email protected] (undergraduates)
  • For KSAS Graduate Students: Renee Eastwood, Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic and Student Affairs
  • For WSE Graduate Students: Megan Barrett, Assistant Dean for Engineering Student Affairs

Starfish for reporting student progress/difficulty

Starfish is a tool through which you can raise concerns about students experiencing academic or personal challenges. This is an early intervention system that connects the appropriate assigned staff members to a student of concern in order to provide support and resources. Once a connection is made to the student a faculty member can view comments in Starfish to learn if the challenge has been addressed and/or resolved. It is also now the method by which we collect mid-semester reports for undergraduate students. You can access Starfish through Canvas or SIS (when in “advisor” mode) or the direct Starfish link.  UIS provides general Starfish help and resources for faculty. Please contact Sloane Hanley at [email protected] or Ruth Sherman at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Prompt submission of grades

Late grades have implications for students’ financial aid, academic standing, visa status, and graduation. Therefore, it is vital that faculty post their grades promptly. The expectation is that grades will be submitted within 48 hours of the administration of the scheduled final exam time/final project due date (if in lieu of a final exam, etc.). Online grade submission for Term I classes will be available beginning March 15, 2024 (due March 18, 2024). Online grade submission for semester-long classes will be available beginning the last day of classes, Friday, April 26, 2024 (due May 20, 2024). Online grade submission for Term II classes will be available beginning May 17, 2024 (due May 20, 2024).

We understand that this can be challenging for large courses when their final exam slot falls toward the end of the examination period. If some grades need to be prioritized (for example, for graduating seniors) it is possible to submit some grades through SIS and later, again through SIS, submit grades for other students.

The registrar’s website contains additional information about the grading dates and deadlines for Spring 2024.

For questions, please Request Support from the Registrar’s Office.

Administration of final examinations

For more information on final exams, please consult the final exam policy in the e-catalog:

The Spring 2024 final exam schedule has been posted on the registrar’s website. You can access it through the navigation menu under Course Schedule, or through this direct link to the 2024 final exam schedule (PDF).

The posted final examination schedule allows the 14-week semester to be used, as intended, for instructional purposes alone, and also gives students adequate time to prepare for examinations. Instructors are not permitted to make ad hoc arrangements for the administration of final examinations. Consistent with the recommendation made by the Commission on Undergraduate Education that the policies related to final examinations be reiterated each year, and with the concurrence of the Academic Council, we wish to call your attention to the following guidelines and urge your cooperation:

  1. The times and places of final examinations are officially scheduled by the Director of Student Records. All final examinations are to be administered during the official final examination period at the time prescribed for the course in question. Students should not be polled as to their willingness to change the time of the scheduled examination. Exams scheduled outside the formal schedule inevitably conflict with other examinations or other obligations.
  2. The reading period was established so that students could have several days free of other obligations in order to prepare for their examinations. Please keep those days clear for that purpose. No final examinations are to be administered during the reading period.
  3. While faculty have the discretion to schedule quizzes, mid-term examinations, and hourly examinations (including tests that they may regard as comprehensive) during any class period of the regular semester, the practice of scheduling a formal final examination for the last class period violates both the letter and the spirit of the final examination policy. It compromises the length of the semester for instructional purposes and limits the ability of students to prepare adequately.
  4. Any take-home final examination can be due no earlier than the time of the regularly scheduled final examination. Faculty members sometimes substitute other academic exercises for a final examination. When assigned as a final exercise, with the expectation that the student will prepare for the assignment and complete the assignment after classes have concluded, such substitutes for examinations should be treated as final examinations and be due on the course’s scheduled examination date. While faculty members retain the discretion to assign appropriate due dates for papers and projects, it is inappropriate to structure a course so that assignments must be completed during the reading period.
  5. If weather necessitates the cancellation of final examinations, make-up examinations must be administered only within the formal examination schedule. The makeup time slot for this semester is Friday, May 10th, 2pm-5pm.
  6. Faculty members who have other imperative professional obligations that require some adjustment to the final examination schedule should confer no later than February 16, 2024, with the respective Vice Dean for Education.
  7. Students find it extremely helpful when a course syllabus describes all the requirements for a course, including the date of the final examination and weight to be accorded it, in addition to the course description and goals, reading assignments, grading policies, contact information, and office hours, and the ethics insert that we have provided for inclusion. Please include this information in your syllabus.

These procedures are prescribed in the interest of fairness to students and an orderly and manageable final examination schedule.

Incomplete Grades

The complete policies regarding incomplete grades are available in the e-catalogue.

The following text is an excerpt which highlights changes that were initially implemented for the 2022-2023 academic year and continue for this year:

  1. A request for an Incomplete grade must be initiated by the student no later than the last day of classes via the Incomplete Grade Contract available in SIS
  2. The required elements on the Incomplete Grade Contract are listed below; all of these topics should be included in the conversation between the student and the instructor.
    • The reason for the request for an incomplete grade 
    • A description of all outstanding work that must be completed
    • Date the work is due from the student
    • The reversion grade if the student does not complete any of the outstanding work
  3. Undergraduate Students: Instructors are required to submit the new grade to the Office of the Homewood Registrar no later than 45 calendar days after the last day of classes. If the Incomplete grade is not resolved within 45 calendar days after the last day of classes, the Incomplete grade is automatically converted to the reversion grade.
  4. Graduate Students: If the incomplete grade is not resolved within the agreed period in the incomplete grade contract (which cannot exceed the maximum allowed period of the end of the third week of the next immediate semester), the incomplete grade is automatically converted to the reversion grade.

The significant change here is that there is an Incomplete Grade Contract available to students in SIS to request an incomplete grade. This is how all incomplete grades must be initiated now.

The other significant change is the timeline for completion of an incomplete grade for undergraduate students, now set at 45 calendar days after the last day of classes. Formerly, the default deadline was the end of the third week of the following semester (and this remains the deadline for graduate students for the AY23-24). Instructors can email the registrar’s office to request extensions to this deadline. The extended deadline may not be later than the last day of the subsequent semester. See the full catalogue entry for considerations for students on academic probation and graduating students.

In cases where a faculty member loses contact with a student prior to the end of the term and/or the student fails to show up for their final exam without explanation two situations may apply:

  1. If the instructor knows the student’s situation, i.e. the student or someone with reliable information has reached out to the instructor about this illness or accident, the instructor should contact the registrar directly to initiate an incomplete grade on behalf of a student experiencing extenuating circumstances. The registrar can process a post-deadline incomplete, entering the appropriate information on the student’s behalf. The advising office can assist the faculty member with this as needed.
  2. If the instructor does not know the student’s situation, i.e. the student has just disappeared, the instructor has two choices; they can enter a grade based on the completed work or they can leave the grade blank. If the student surfaces later and there is a reasonable excuse involving a situation beyond their control, the registrar can process a grade change up until the end of the subsequent semester.

Academic integrity (syllabus Insert)

Cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty are corrosive and harmful to our university. We urge you to place a statement about academic integrity on your syllabus. It may be helpful to share examples of academic misconduct specific to your course/discipline for student context. It is also important to make clear the ground rules for your course (may students work together on homework assignments, etc.). The following syllabus insert was created by a faculty ethics committee some years ago, and this italicized verbiage has already been included on the syllabus template:

The strength of the university depends on academic and personal integrity. In this course, you must be honest and truthful. Ethical violations include cheating on exams, plagiarism, reuse of assignments, improper use of the Internet and electronic devices, unauthorized collaboration, alteration of graded assignments, forgery and falsification, lying, facilitating academic dishonesty, and unfair competition.

Report any violations you witness to the instructor. You can also contact:

OPTIONAL, provide your own text here:

In addition, the specific ethics guidelines for this course are:
(1) Insert unique rules here, such as your policy regarding collaboration on assignments or use of old exams/graded materials.
(2) etc.

We also encourage the use of an ethics pledge on examinations:

I attest that I have completed this exam without unauthorized assistance from any person, materials, or device. [Signed and dated]

If possible and appropriate, it can be helpful to incorporate a brief class discussion about what academic misconduct looks like in your class, including your expectations on group work, if relevant.

If you find that a student has committed an ethical violation, please follow the proper procedures even if you and the student have come to an agreed-upon resolution.

The adjudication procedures differ based on student level and are available on their respective policy sites:

Disability services (syllabus insert)

Students with disabilities may need accommodations but first, they must make themselves known to Student Disability Services at Homewood Campus. This office is also available to consult with faculty about any issues or concerns.

The following italicized verbiage has already been included on the syllabus template:

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions, and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Homewood Campus, Shaffer Hall #101, call: 410-516-4720 and email: [email protected] or visit the website.

Inclusivity (syllabus insert)

The following information on inclusivity in the classroom was developed by the Homewood Council on Inclusive Excellence.

There are several elements of your syllabus that you might consider conveying to the students your expectations for the climate of your classroom, and open communications to hear any concerns.

Adding your pronouns to the syllabus (he/him, she/her, they/their) signals that you are welcoming to people who are non-gender-conforming. For more information, contact LGBTQ Life and/or attend a Safe Zone training.

The following italicized verbiage has already been included on the syllabus template:

Johns Hopkins University is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone here has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important because research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. Please join us in creating a welcoming and vibrant classroom climate. Note that you should expect to be challenged intellectually by the instructor, the TAs, and your peers, and at times this may feel uncomfortable. Indeed, it can be helpful to be pushed sometimes in order to learn and grow. But at no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity.

If you ever have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to your instructor or the Tas, who will take your communication seriously and seek mutually acceptable resolutions and accommodations. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with the department chair, the Director of Undergraduate Studies [link to heads/DUS document], the WSE Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion (Darlene Saporu, [email protected]), the KSAS Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion (Araceli Frias, [email protected]) or the Office of Institutional Equity ([email protected]).

In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g., sexual harassment).

If you have TAs, be sure to give instructions to them on how to receive any concerns. For example:

  1. Listen to the student’s concern.
  2. Be non-judgmental.
  3. Note critical details (time, place, witnesses).
  4. Ask what kind of response the student is seeking.
  5. Reports of sexual harassment must be conveyed to the Office of Institutional Equity.
  6. Be mindful of privacy and discretion in handling the student’s concern

The following section can lower barriers to inclusion arising from family obligations. It may not be appropriate for all classes, for example lab courses with safety regulations.

Family accommodation policy: You are welcome to bring a family member to class on occasional days when your responsibilities require it (for example, if emergency childcare is unavailable, or for the health needs of a relative). In fact, you may see my children in class on days when their school is closed. Please be sensitive to the classroom environment, and if your family member becomes uncomfortably disruptive, you may leave the classroom and return as needed.

Religious holidays

Religious holidays are valid reasons to be excused from class. Students who must miss a class or an examination because of a religious holiday must inform the instructor as early in the semester as possible to be excused from class or to make up for any work that is missed. If possible, try to avoid scheduling exams/presentations for major holidays. Student Affairs maintains a list of many religious holidays.

Jewish holy days and religious festivals begin at sunset the evening of the first date. Muslim holy days are based on a lunar calendar, and the actual dates are determined by direct observation of the moon and announced by the local mosque. The dates listed may vary by a day or two.

More information may be found at the Religious and Spiritual Life website. If you have any questions regarding a particular case or would like any guidance, please do not hesitate to contact the Johns Hopkins University Chaplain at 410-516-1880 or [email protected]. Thank you for your sensitivity to this matter. Students may also request a religious accommodation through the Office of Institutional Equity.