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Recommended Syllabus Content

For courses that are traditionally strongly exam based

This page contains sample language explaining to students how course policies have been modified to accommodate potential disruptions during the quarter. Though you may want to match the type of accommodations, the important elements of these samples are the fact that they provide:

  1. Clear recognition that there are likely to be disruptions this quarter.
  2. Clear outlining of what is already different about this course that builds in flexibility while retaining a clear ability to evaluate work fairly.
  3. Clear instructions on how to best navigate the flexibility

Please note that these are intended as examples of how you could structure your syllabus and are not necessarily recommendations for how to structure your assessments.

Example 1:

Potential disruption during Fall 2020 quarter

There are various reasons why students may encounter disruption to their ability to complete class activities during Fall 2020. This includes potential increases in COVID cases in parts of the US or other countries, wildfire evacuations across California, or protests around the US election. There are also other circumstances that students have little control over, such as their computer breaking or a loss of internet access. I have therefore made several changes to my syllabus compared to previous years.

These include:

  • increasing the credit that can be earned by completing discussion worksheets and quizzes
  • increasing the number of quizzes that can be dropped
  • holding 4 equally weighted exams, rather than 2 midterms and a cumulative final, so that emergencies, especially during finals week can be accommodated
  • making exams open note and extending the length of time you have to take an exam and the length of time that it is available to you (to compensate for internet connectivity issues)

I did this to ensure that we are prepared for most contingencies, should not need to make changes to the syllabus part way through the quarter, and so that the class is as equitable as possible to all students. I am therefore very unlikely to make additional accommodations unless you experience particularly severe hardships, in which case it is your responsibility to contact me as soon as possible so that we can talk about your options.

To make the most of this extra flexibility, I encourage you to:

  • avoid missing exams/quizzes/discussions early in the quarter due to minor situations so that you can make use of dropping missed/low scores later in the quarter if unexpected severe disruptions occur
  • stay active in the course and complete the smaller and, more frequent assignments and exams earlier in the quarter
  • communicate with me as soon as possible if situations arise that prevent you from being able to complete assigned work

Example 2, from the School of Physical Sciences:

Course accommodations in XXX, Fall 2020

During the 2020-21 academic year, students in this course are expected to follow the School of Physical Sciences guidelines [insert link] for students in remote courses.

This is an exceptional quarter due to the impact of COVID on you, your friends, and your family. Continuing social and political unrest may add even more anxiety.  For students experiencing stress, I urge you to take advantage of the many resources available to UCI students. Given the challenging learning environment, I have built a number of accommodations into our course: the Sapling Homework problems have a format consistent with my exams, the weighting of the homework relative to the exams has been increased, the exams have been shortened, the final exam is unweighted, an additional exam is being offered, and I will automatically drop the lowest exam. I understand that your grade is important and these accommodations will allow you to minimize the impact of unexpected circumstances related to our challenging times.

To make the most of this extra flexibility, I encourage you to:

  • avoid missing exams/quizzes/discussions early in the quarter due to minor situations so that you can make use of dropping missed/low scores later in the quarter if unexpected severe disruptions occurs
  • stay active in the course and complete the smaller and more frequent assignments and exams earlier in the quarter
  • communicate with me as soon as possible if situations arise that prevent you from not being able to complete assigned work

For courses that are using Respondus

Using LockDown Browser for Online Exams

This course requires the use of LockDown Browser for online exams. Watch this short video to get a basic understanding of LockDown Browser and the optional webcam feature (which may be required for some exams).

Then download and install LockDown Browser from this link:

https://download.respondus.com/lockdown/download.php?id=670114425

To take an online test, start LockDown Browser and navigate to the exam. (You won't be able to access the exam with a standard web browser.) For additional details on using LockDown Browser, review this Student Quick Start Guide (PDF).

Finally, when taking an online exam, follow these guidelines:

  • Select a location where you won't be interrupted
  • Before starting the test, know how much time is available for it, and that you've allotted sufficient time to complete it
  • Turn off all mobile devices, phones, etc. and don't have them within reach
  • Clear your area of all external materials — books, papers, other computers, or devices
  • Remain at your desk or workstation for the duration of the test

LockDown Browser will prevent you from accessing other websites or applications; you will be unable to exit the test until all questions are completed and submitted

For in-person or hybrid classes

If you are teaching in-person this quarter, please review and include the following information in your communication to students: Health Guidelines for Inclusion in Syllabi for In-person and Hybrid Courses