TEACHING AT KOÇ UNIVERSITY
Koç University’s educational mission is to produce the most capable graduates by providing them a world-class education that tries to teach universal basics while at the same time addressing the individual’s talents and career objectives. Regardless of different majors, ‘Koç education’ tries to bestow upon the students:
- Broad knowledge, critical thinking, strong desire and aptitude for creativity, research and life-long learning
- Excellent education in fundamentals of their disciplines
- Education in social issues, responsibilities, ethics and professionalism
- Effective communication, leadership and teamwork skills
- Ability to meet internationally competitive academic standards.
- In order to fulfill this educational mission Koç University depends on its faculty members who are dedicated to excellence in teaching. Teaching includes advising and mentorship in addition to classroom instruction. Seeking excellence in teaching requires setting the right standards, acceptance and ownership of the educational values by teachers and students, effective performance monitoring and continuous improvement of teaching strategies.
In this brief guide we present important information on teaching related activities and policies of Koç University. The guidelines here are designed for the undergraduate program in mind. However, similar guidelines apply to ELC and graduate courses as well.
The normal teaching load of research track faculty consists of four courses per academic year. Faculty is assigned to teach classes by the appropriate dean. Faculty is responsible for holding the classes at the times and places scheduled for them by the Registrar.
VPAA endorses the totality of the course assignments for the university. Faculty is responsible for determining that the content of their classes is appropriate to each course, as officially described in the catalogue, and achieves the coverage indicated by that description.
Faculty is responsible for confining classroom discussion to subjects related to the topics of concern in the course.
- The medium of instruction is English with the exception of certain designated courses and programs. Therefore lectures including those given in the labs and problem sessions and the student participation must be carried out in English.
- Changes to announced class times and places are authorized only by the Registrar upon the request by the appropriate Dean. Members of the faculty should not contact the Registrar directly.
- Each faculty member has the responsibility to give his/her students a detailed course syllabus in the first week of classes. The syllabus contains information on the course content, attendance policy, resources such as textbook and readers, evaluation of performance, make-up policy and academic integrity. For freshman and core courses the exam dates must be announced, stating the probable week the exam can take place, in the syllabus. Faculty is advised to do so in other courses as well.
- Faculty is responsible for maintaining an environment appropriate to academic endeavor in the classroom and respectful of the dignity of the students as individuals. Students are expected to follow the classroom behavioral standards set by the instructor.
- Students who do not attend 1/3 of the lectures in core and freshman courses shall not receive F automatically. However, instructors have the right to mandate such a regulation in any course if they include a statement with similar effect in their syllabi. (revised according to the University Academic Council dated September 25, 2009; effective starting in Fall 2009)
Faculty members should learn how to use KUAIS (Koç University Academic Information System) to have access to electronic student/advisees records and important academic documents. KUAIS contains also very valuable statistical information on the students, courses and the university that are open to all faculty.
Teacher and Course Evaluation Policy and Procedures
At the end of each course, students fill in a Teacher/Course evaluation form. This serves two related, but distinctly separate objectives. The first relates directly to the instructor’s own efforts to teach effectively and provides feedback to faculty about how to improve his/her teaching. The second objective pertains to administrative decisions regarding annual evaluations. Course evaluation results are reported on KUAIS.
Faculty will announce grading and make-up policies at the beginning of class meetings for each course. The grading system in use at the University is described in the current catalogue and in the Advisory Booklet. Each faculty member is expected to select appropriate times for periodic examinations that are necessary or desirable during the course of the semester.
- Examinations for elective courses should normally be given during the regular class period. These times must be published in the course syllabus distributed to the students during the first week of classes. For multiple sections and large classes exams normally are difficult to schedule during class hours. In this case, exams may be held later in the day. However if there is a common core or required course exams at this late time of the day, then common core and required course exams take the priority. Examinations can be given at the weekends.
- For common core and required course mid-term exams, Registrar sends a form to all faculty to set the examination days. Faculty submits their appropriate weeks and Registrar finalizes the schedule and announces to the Faculty.
- Whenever extreme circumstances make necessary deviation from the announced schedule, students must be notified well in advance.
- Reports and exams should be graded quickly and the grades should be entered within the following 10 days.
- There must be sufficient annotation to help the student to understand his/her successful and failing areas.
- The answers to the exam questions must be provided immediately after the exam by posting them on the web or by the door of teachers or graduate assistants.
- The exam questions sheet must indicate the weight of each question.
- Graduate assistants may help in the grading of exams. They must however be given a key indicating the critical issues and the partial grades.
- Faculty members should report the failing students to their advisors. In order to facilitate this information exchange the instructors should enter the grades of students into KUAIS during the semester. The advisors are then automatically informed of the progress of their students throughout the semester.
- Meeting the deadlines for entering course grades so the grade reports can be issued on a timely basis is essential. A faculty member, who can not meet the deadline, must notify his/her dean and file “Incomplete” grades with the dean’s authorization. The “Incomplete” grade has to be replaced with one of A-F by the deadline announced in the academic calendar.
- Final exam times and places can not be changed from those announced by the Registrar. The Registrar should not be contacted by faculty members to select final examination slots. All requests should be channeled to the Dean’s office.
- Final exams may be administered, at times other than the official exam period announced in the University Academic Calendar, by the consent of the Dean.
- Faculty members report the final letter grades on KUAIS at times announced by the Registrar and a hard copy is presented to the Registrar and the Dean. Faculty members can also report their evaluation of the course they have given by providing comments on KUAIS (academic menu/evaluations/course comments). This forms a useful data base for future offerings of the course. The grade history of the each course can be found on KUAIS.
- Amnesty exam times, places and faculty members administering the exams are announced by the Registrar. Faculty members can not schedule these exams.
- Final exams cannot be eliminated without the recommendation of the appropriate Dean and authorization of VPAA.
- Exams in lieu of the final exams can be scheduled during the last week of classes, other than their regular dates, by the consent of the Dean.
- Each faculty member is responsible for administering the examination of his/her course. Under extenuating circumstances such as illness or the need to be out of town authorized by the Dean, faculty may ask for help from another faculty member and in no time should be left to the responsibility of an assistant.
- Transparency of our grade assignment is essential. Faculty must show the list for the whole class by indicating the points of each component that makes the final grade. This list should not contain the names of the students, but indicate the student identification number on the class list.
- Assigned grades can be changed upon noticing an error. The students are allowed to see their exam papers and may request a re-evaluation of their paper within one week of the grading. Similarly, within one week of the assigning of the semester grade, a student may request a re-evaluation of the semester grade. When passed these deadlines, neither the faculty member nor the student may request a grade change under normal circumstances. An exception is a calculation error that can be corrected without the deadline restriction. In case of the refusal of an appeal, the student may apply to the office of the Dean of the College concerned. A three-member committee appointed by the Dean shall review and decide upon the result of the examination.
Faculty is expected to keep regularly scheduled office hours each week for students and advisees. The number of hours scheduled should reflect the teaching load, number of advisees and class enrollment of the faculty member. Office Hours should be flexible enough to provide reasonable access to students who may have class conflicts.
In case of plagiarism (see Catalog and Rules and Regulations: Article 22) and improper conduct (e.g. disruptive behavior in the class room) the instructor should report the student to his/her Dean. Faculty members should include in their syllabi guidelines that address plagiarism and class room misconduct. In case of classroom misconduct that prevents instruction the faculty member should first warn the class and the disruptive student(s). If disruptive behavior continues, the faculty member can ask the student(s) to leave the class. Both plagiarism and misconduct are subject to disciplinary action. For such a request, the faculty member must file a short note with the Dean explaining the incident within the day of its occurrence.
Advising is an integral part of teaching. Faculty members are responsible for knowing the curriculum, academic rules and regulations, and University and college requirements and procedures, which apply to their advisees, as well as with the University’s service and support departments to be able to refer students to the services. Advising is separately discussed in Advisory Booklet