Faculty Resources

Resources

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Academic Policies

  • Syllabus

    Faculty members should provide students with a syllabus at the outset of the course, with the possibility of additional installments issued at timely intervals during the semester. As detailed further below, faculty members should include information regarding assignments, course materials, office hours and availability, disability accommodations, learning outcomes, class attendance, formative and summative assessment, accommodations, and grading.

  • Instructional Minutes

    The Sturm College of Law operates on a 14-week semester for fall and spring and on a 7-week term for summer. To comply with ABA requirements relating to instructional minutes, faculty members should teach 700 minutes of face-to-face instruction per credit hour per semester and include an exam or final assessment of at least 50 minutes per credit hour. Classes in the Professional Part-Time JD Program are deliberately structured so that at least two-thirds of the instructional minutes are delivered face-to-face, and up to one-third of the instructional minutes are delivered in an asynchronous online format.

    To ensure compliance with ABA Standards 306 and 311 regarding distance learning, classes should be taught in the modality in which they have been set up and offered to students. Faculty members who seek to change the modality of an in-person class must receive pre-approval from the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to allow the law school to track distance learning for classes not designated as distance classes, as required by Standard 306(c).

  • Learning Outcomes

    ABA Standard 302 requires accredited law schools to “establish learning outcomes,” which may include goals relating to the acquisition of knowledge doctrinal and procedural law, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, written and oral communication, ethical responsibility, and other professional skills and capacities. In the interest of pedagogical transparency and effectiveness, faculty members are encouraged to articulate a set of learning outcomes in their course syllabus and to reinforce them during the course.

  • Class Attendance and Student Conduct

    ABA Standard 308 requires accredited law schools to “adopt, publish, and adhere to sound academic standards, including those for regular class attendance.” Students are required to regularly attend class as a condition for receiving academic credit. In order to provide timely support for students who may be experiencing academic and/or personal challenges, faculty members should contact the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs promptly if a student is persistently absent from class, failing to complete assignments, or if they are otherwise concerned about a student’s wellbeing. Faculty members with concerns about a student’s conduct should consult with the Executive Associate Dean, who will work within appropriate University- and unit-level policies to address the issue.

    Faculty members should share information in their syllabus about reasonable adjustments to attendance requirements to account for important religious observance. Students will be permitted to request class recordings through the Office of Student Affairs for non-attendance for important religious observance.

  • Formative and Summative Assessment

    ABA Standard 314 requires accredited law schools to “utilize both formative and summative assessment methods … to measure and improve student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students.” Consistent with ABA guidance, faculty members are strongly encouraged to employ formative assessment tools (such as midterms, mid-semester projects, or other opportunities for the students to get feedback during the semester) and summative assessment tools (such as final exams, papers, or end-of-term presentations).

    Changes in how a faculty member intends to assess their class, including changes in the value of a particular assessment, should be communicated clearly to students and should not be made after the conclusion of the add/drop period.

    Mid-term assessments must be scheduled within the period specified at the beginning of each term by the Registrar, which will not begin earlier than the end of the add-drop period. No assessments may be conducted outside of that period.

  • Accommodations

    The University of Denver is committed to equal opportunity and to complying with all federal, state, and local laws relating to disability, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX is responsible for confirming that facilities and programs at the University comply with federal, state, and local laws regarding equal access for individuals with disabilities. Student Disability Services (SDS) works to facilitate the participation of students with documented disabilities.

    Faculty members at the Sturm College of Law are required to include the following notification in their syllabi:

    • If you have a disability/medical issue protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and need to request accommodations, please visit the Student Disability Services (SDS) website at https://studentaffairs.du.edu/disability-services-program.

    Faculty members are required to comply with accommodations issued by SDS. Faculty members should not seek to furnish an accommodation to a student who has not received an SDS-issued accommodation. Faculty members should not comment upon, stigmatize, or retaliate against any student based on their disability status or whether they have received an SDS-issued accommodation.

  • Out-of-Class Consultations

    ABA Standard 404 requires full-time faculty members at accredited law schools to be available for “student consultations” about classes outside of scheduled classroom time. To maintain compliance with ABA guidance, all full-time faculty members are required to make themselves available to students on a regular basis, through posted and scheduled office hours or other means of scheduling meetings. Faculty members should also make themselves available to students for reasonable course-related consultation by e-mail and outside of any regularly scheduled office hours.

  • Canceled and Rescheduled Classes

    When the University cancels classes for a full day, due to snow or another emergency, the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs will schedule an additional day of classes to make up that day. In circumstances where a few classes are canceled due to snow or another emergency, the Executive Associate Dean will work with the faculty members to facilitate the scheduling of make-up classes.

    In circumstances where it is necessary for a particular faculty member to cancel a class, the faculty member must make up the instructional minutes lost by scheduling a make-up class or adding additional minutes to other classes. It is strongly recommended that make-up classes be recorded for students who may be unable to attend at the alternative time. Make-up classes in the Professional Part-Time JD Program should be taught on the weekends when students in the program are scheduled to meet. Each semester, a weekend is also designated for make-up classes. Alternatively, faculty members may work with the Executive Associate Dean to schedule additional minutes to each class time to make up for a cancelled class.

  • Exams
    1. Scheduling and Administration
      Exams at the Sturm College of Law are scheduled by the Registrar’s Office and occur during designated exam periods, a mid-term exam period and a finals exam period determined by the Registrar. The Registrar’s Office administers all exams at the Sturm College of Law. Faculty members should be available during the examination should a question arise.
       
    1. Anonymity
      The Sturm College of Law requires anonymous grading whenever the grade for the entire course, seminar, or exercise rests on a written examination. To create equitable conditions for all students in relation to exam-taking and assessment, exam answers at the Sturm College of Law must be typed. Handwritten exams are not permitted.  
      Although faculty members are not required to grade students anonymously on writing exercises, skills training, or classroom participation, scores that are not anonymous will need to be added to anonymous exam scores by Faculty Support or the Registrar’s Office, with final tabulations returned to the faculty member in an anonymous form for the final allocation of letter grades.
       
    1. Integrity
      The Sturm College of Law does not currently employ proctoring software for remote exams. To preserve exam integrity, faculty members who assign a remote exam should designate the exam as “open book.”   
       
    1. Out-of-Sequence Exams and Exam-Related Accommodations
      To ensure consistent decision making and protect anonymity, all requests for out-of-sequence exams and/or exam-related accommodations should be directed to the Registrar’s Office or the Office of Student Affairs and should not be handled by individual faculty members. If any students are taking out-of-sequence exams, the Registrar’s Office will hold back a selection of exams until all exams are completed, in order to maintain anonymity.
       
    1. Exam Review
      Faculty members should make themselves available to provide feedback on exams after grades are released and should manage exam review and the feedback process themselves. Faculty who wish to provide a mechanism for anonymous review in addition to meeting with students should work with the Registrar’s Office to manage the process. The Faculty Support team does not handle exam review.
  • Grading

    Grading Deadlines
    Accurate and timely grades play an important role in students’ professional development and professional prospects. Faculty are required to submit their grades each semester by the specified deadline, which is three weeks after the end of the exam period.

    Grade Normalization
    The Sturm College of Law employs the letter grade system set forth below:

    Letter Grade

    Numerical Grade

    A

    4.0

    A-

    3.7

    B+

    3.3

    B

    3.0

    B-

    2.7

    C+

    2.3

    C

    2.0

    C-

    1.7

    D+

    1.3

    D

    1.0

    D-

    0.7

    F

    0.0

    Grades issued in all required courses must correspond to a median of 3.3 and a mean between 3.15 and 3.45. Grades issued in all non-required non-clinical courses with an enrollment of more than ten students must substantially conform to this mandatory curve, meaning that they cannot deviate more than 0.1 from the mandatory median and mean.

    If the grades issued in a course of more than 10 students substantially deviate from the mandatory curve, the faculty member must provide the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs with adequate justification for the deviation. The Executive Associate Dean shall make the final determination of whether an adequate justification exists, taking into account the justification offered by the faculty member, the treatment of students in similarly situated classes across the curriculum, and other relevant factors bearing on horizontal equity and curricular integrity. If the Executive Associate Dean determines that adequate justification does not exist, the faculty member, the Executive Associate Dean, or the Registrar shall reconfigure the grades in a manner consistent with the grading requirements set forth herein.

    Grade Finality
    Grades are final unless there is a computational error. If a student wishes to appeal their grade, they should follow the procedures set out in the Student Handbook for appeal to the Examinations, Standing, and Readmission Committee.

    In certain cases, faculty members may adopt a procedure that permits students to challenge provisional grades on individual assignments and exams. Faculty members who adopt this approach must make this policy known to all students at the beginning of the semester and must preserve anonymity throughout any reevaluation process. Such faculty-specific procedures, should they occur, do not involve the participation of the Registrar’s Office or the Examinations, Standing, and Readmission Committee.

  • Technology Platform

    Canvas is the preferred teaching platform at the University of Denver. Basic support for Canvas is available from Faculty Support (facultysupportstaff@law.du.edu). Expert instructional design support is available from a highly experienced in-house Instructional Designer at the Sturm College of Law (Andy Dvoracek; advoracek@law.du.edu) and through the University of Denver’s Office of Teaching and Learning (otl@du.edu).

  • Class Recording and Zoom Policy

    All classes at the Sturm College of Law are recorded, with the exception of most clinic classes (Advancing Social Change Clinic; Civil Litigation Clinic; Civil Rights Clinic; Criminal Defense Clinic; Community Economic Development Clinic; Environmental Law and Policy Clinic; Immigration Law and Policy Clinic).

    Pursuant to University of Denver Policy PROV 4.10.030, Recording Classes, faculty are strongly encouraged to include the following text in their class syllabus unless they are teaching a clinic class.

    • All class sessions at the Sturm College of Law will be recorded, with the exception of most clinic classes. To request a recording of the class, students who do not have an approved accommodation through the University’s Student Disability Services must complete this petition with the Office of Student Affairs. Students will be permitted to access recordings for the following reasons: medical emergencies, family emergencies, religious holidays, military obligations (short-term, temporary), parental leave (up to 2.5 weeks), jury duty, and academic conflict. If a student’s request does not fall within any of those categories, the student will need to receive the faculty member’s permission before submitting the petition and receiving the recording. There is no option for students to Zoom into a class synchronously.
  • Course Modality and Teaching over Zoom

    Consistent with University and Sturm College of Law policies, when the University is open, classes that are set up to be taught in-person should be taught in person and not delivered over Zoom. If you will be unable to teach a class and would like to teach it over Zoom instead of scheduling an in-person make-up class, you must consult with the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, awiersema@law.du.edu. The ABA requires us to track each instance of delivery of a class in a distance format if the class is not designated as a distance class. These policies also apply during inclement weather unless the University officially closes for weather. During inclement weather, classes will continue in person unless the University officially closes for weather. If you are unable to come to campus for safety reasons or because you are a care-giver of school age children when schools are closed, please contact the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to consult (awiersema@law.du.edu).

    Absent a formal accommodation from the Student Disability Services office at the University of Denver, a student may not participate in class over Zoom, regardless of the reason for their absence from campus.

  • Canvas Quizzes and Accommodations

    If you are using Canvas for quizzes or assessments during the semester, please note the following to ensure the integrity of assessments and compliance with the University’s Student Disability Services (SDS) Program.

    1. Please note that anonymity in Canvas can be compromised, so please do not guarantee absolute anonymity to your students for any assignment in Canvas.
       
    2. Canvas assessments and answers are stored only in the Canvas platform. They are not also stored by the Registrar’s Office.
       
    3. Given notes 1 and 2 above, please consider carefully the nature of any assessments in Canvas that will be graded and the percentage of the total grade for the course that you intend Canvas assessments to count for. Objectively assessed quizzes, for example, may lead to less concern about the loss of anonymity. Canvas assessments are most appropriate for relatively low value mid-term assessments and formative assessment during the semester. Assessments worth a significant portion of the final grade and final exams are managed instead by the Registrar’s Office.
       
    4. Accommodations: For any assessments that will form part of the final grade, some of your students may have accommodations that affect the amount of time they are allowed or other issues related to the assessment. Please note the following:
       
      1. If the assessment is open for more than 72 hours with no limit on the amount of time a student can spend on it other than the final deadline for submission, no accommodation will be implicated.
      2. By contrast, if the assessment will require the student to complete it within a defined period of time that is less than 72 hours – three hours, for example - students may have an accommodation that grants them additional time. This is the case even if the smaller timeframe for the assessment is within a larger window within which the student can do the assessment. If this applies to your Canvas assessments, please notify the Office of Student Affairs (student_affairs@law.du.edu). They will determine whether a student in your class needs an accommodation and will be able to go into Canvas to adjust the time given to the relevant student. They will not make any other changes in your Canvas course.