Course Conduct Policies

This document contains a collection of policies pertaining to the courses I teach. These policies were established to address a series of common questions and concerns that have arisen in past years; they are neither meant to be exhaustive, nor do they supersede any university or faculty-internal policies.
Policy on Enrollment and Registration

§1. All registration and enrollment issues are handled by the Registrar's Office in cooperation with the Undergraduate Office or MBA Office in the Faculty of Commerce. If you have any questions or concerns, please schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Office (or the MBA Office for students in the MBA program).

§2. As an instructor, I positively will not deal with any questions or issues relating to registration. In particular, please be advised that

  • enrollment policies are set by the Registrar's Office and/or the Undergraduate Office or MBA Office in Commerce.

  • enrollment in a particular section of a course cannot exceed the seating capacity of the room.

  • enrollment limits are set to ensure an effective teaching environment.

  • it creates unfairness if individual instructors "sign in" students because individual instructors do not have all the pertinent information to judge individual cases, or balance the relative merits of several cases.

  • it is not the instructor's job to deal with registration issues; The personnel in the UG and MBA Offices is specifically assigned to deal with these issues.

  • if you absolutely feel you need to talk to me about registration issues, you are probably wasting your and my time.

§3. If you want to switch between sections, your best strategy is to find someone in your preferred section who would like to switch into your section. Typically, the undergraduate office will keep a waiting list for this purpose. You must have a compelling reason to switch sections (such as a documented scheduling conflict with another course).

§4. If you are trying to get into a course (or course section) that is full, you may want to ask the Undergraduate Office to place you on a waiting list. Based on past experience, at the beginning of term there are typically some registered students dropping out who were 'shopping around'. Chances are that you may still be able to get into a particular course during the first week of classes.

§5. Access to courses of a particular program year is restricted to students enrolled in that program year. For example, 3rd-year students are not permitted to enroll in 4th-year courses.

Policy on Auditing

§1. The rules under "Policy on Enrollment and Registration" above apply equivalently.

§2. Students auditing any of my courses must be willing and able to fully participate in all aspects of the course, including group projects and assignments.

§3. The MBA Office specifically prohibits the auditing of Period 1 courses. Auditing courses in subsequent periods is permitted provided that students have attained a post-core cumulative average of 80%.

Policy on Attendance

§1. Attendance of classes, and active participation in class, are requirements for all courses I teach. Your participation grade will in part depend on your regular attendance. If you miss a class for a pertinent reason such as a medical concern or a job interview, you must inform me of your absence within one week of the missed class. (E-mail is fine for this purpose).

§2. I require all undergraduate students to provide digital pictures of themselves. Please have your digital picture taken during the first two weeks of classes. Visit the Self-Service Camera Kiosk in the PC-Lab in HA 407. The PC-Lab is open weekdays between 08:00 and 22:00 and on weekends between 10:00 and 18:00. The Lab attendant should be able to provide assistance if you require any. Make sure that you read the conditions and terms of use before you have your picture taken. Please note that providing a digital picture is a requirement for obtaining a participation grade. No picture - no grade; no kidding!

Policy on Communication Devices

§1. Communication devices include cellphones, smartphones, laptop computers, and other portable wireless devices that facilitate communication.

§2. During exams, all communication devices must be turned off and stored securely away from the student. Do not use cellphones as backup calculators or as substitutes for wrist watches. Use of smartphones as calculators is expressly prohibited. Leaving and returning to the exam room during an exam while carrying a cellphone may constitute improper exam conduct that may lead to immediate expulsion from the exam.

§3. During class (lectures and student presentations alike), all cellphones must be turned off. Exceptions to this policy require prior notification and permission from the instructor, in case of legitimate extenuating circumstances.

§4. The use of laptop computers during class is restricted to note-taking and viewing of class-related materials. The use of laptop computers for any other purpose (web surfing, etc.) is expressly prohibited. The instructor reserves the right to disallow the use of laptop computers completely if and when it interferes with the conduct of regular classroom activities.

Policy on Recording Devices and Recordings

§1. Recording devices include tape recorders, digital voice recorders, cellphones or smartphones with recording capability, video cameras, and any other devices through which sound and still or moving images can be recorded.

§2. The use of recording devices of any type during class is only permitted with the express consent of the instructor.

§3. The use of recordings of classroom activities is restricted to personal use for study and learning. It is prohibited to distribute in-class recordings to any person who is not a registered student in this class. Specifically, any posting of in-class recordings on the Internet is expressly prohibited, with the exception of recordings produced by the instructor that are made available through a password-protected mechanism that restricts the distribution to the exclusive group of students registered in this class.

§4. The unauthorized dissemination or distribution of recordingds (through e-mail, web posting, or through any other means) may infringe on intellectual property rights of the instructor, the university, or participating students, and may thus be subject to legal prosecution and sanction.

Policy on Examination Conduct

§1. As exams are typically common across multiple sections of my course, midterm exams are scheduled in the evening. Final exams are scheduled by the Registrar's Office. I have no influence on the date of the final exam. You are required to be present on campus until the end of the examination period. (In particular, do not book flights until you know the date of the exam.)

§2. The following are the rules governing formal examinations:

  • Each candidate must be prepared to produce, upon request, a Library/AMS card for identification.

  • Candidates are not permitted to ask questions of the invigilators, except in cases of supposed errors or ambiguities in examination questions. (The latter is encouraged!)

  • No candidate shall be permitted to enter the examination room after the expiration of one-half hour from the scheduled starting time, or to leave during the first half hour of the examination.

  • Candidates guilty of any of the following, or similar, dishonest practices shall be immediately dismissed from the examination and shall be liable to disciplinary action. (a) Making use of any books, papers or memoranda, calculators, computers, audio or video cassette players or other memory aid devices, other than those authorized by the examiners. (b) Speaking or communicating with other candidates. (c) Purposely exposing written papers to the view of other candidates. The plea of accident or forgetfulness shall not be received.

  • Candidates must not destroy or mutilate any examination material; must hand in all examination papers; and must not take any examination material from the examination room without permission of the invigilator.

  • When time is called, you must stop writing. If you continue writing after time has been called, you will be penalized by a deduction of 5 percentage points from your exam for every minute you continue writing. The remaining time will be announced at several points during the exam.

  • Exchange students from non english-speaking countries are permitted to use dictionaries during the exam. Dictionaries may be inspected by the exam invigilators.

  • Where the use of electronic calculators is permitted in an exam, these calculators must be non-programmable (ie, must not have memory in which any amount of textual information could be stored). Calculators may be inspected by the exam invigilators.

§3. I post all grades on the Internet, accessible through a password-protected user interface. If you have any concerns about this, please let me know at the beginning of the term as I can disable the web-based grades lookup for individual students. All grades posted on the web are not final and are subject to change.

§4. Midterm exams will be discussed in class. Tehy will be returned only for the duration of the special session in which the exam will be discussed, and must be handed back to the instructor at the end of this session. Both midterm exam and final exam will remain the property of the university until destroyed or otherwise disposed of. If you would like to view your midterm exam after the special section, please contact the instructor during regular office hours. If you would like to view your final exam, you must file a formal application within one month from receipt of end of session results.

Policy on Advance Exams

§1. There will be no advance exams for either the midterm or final exams under any circumstances.

§2. Students are required to remain in attendance until the end of the examination period. Do not schedule job interviews or other meetings for this period, and adjust your travel plans accordingly. If you miss a final exam for other than medical reasons, you may be ineligible for consideration of an academic concession (see policy on missed exams below).

Policy on Missed Exams

§1. Students absent from a midterm exam must provide a medical certificate explaining the reason for the absence. There will be no make-up exam for a missed midterm. Instead, weights on the partial credits of the course will be adjusted to compensate for the missed midterm. Failure to produce medical documentation will result in a zero grade for the midterm.

§2. Students absent from December or April final examinations must submit a Request for Academic Concession form to the dean of the faculty as soon as possible. (The undergraduate office will provide these forms.) The request should be accompanied by a Statement of Illness form completed by either the attending Student Health Service physician or the attending family physician. Academic concessions are granted only by the dean (or their delegate) and are a privilege, not a right. The student may be asked to provide additional information.

§3. Students missing a December final exam will have an opportunity to write a make-up exam in a parallel section of the course in April. Students missing an April final exam in COMM 498 will receive an opportunity to write a make-up exam as scheduled by the undergraduate office.

Policy on Re-Examination of Exams

§1. Requests for remarking to correct for counting errors can be made informally on the day an exam is returned and/or discussed in class.

§2. Requests for re-examination must be submitted in writing with a clear explanation why you believe your answer was marked incorrectly. During office hour visits to the instructor an exam question can be discussed and the instructor can provide an explanation as to the intended answer. However, it is inappropriate to request a remarking of a discussed question during such a meeting. Requests for re-examination must be made in proper form. It is unacceptable behaviour to show up at the instructor's office and declare "I think I should get X more points for this answer".

§3. Exams written in pencil instead of pen are categorically excluded from remarking or re-examination. There are no exceptions to this rule. Instructions to write in pen rather than pencil appear on all of my exams. If you didn't read the instructions, too bad.

§4. The re-examination of an exam may include the entire exam, not just the question(s) for which re-examination has been requested.

§5. Final exams are not handed back to the student but remain the property of the university. Requests to inspect a final exam must be made within one month after results were made available. The original of a final exam can be inspected only in the instructor's office, but a copy can be made available to a student for the purpose of a formal re-examination request. An administration fee may apply for the making and mailing of a photocopy.

Policy on Reference Letters

§1. I provide reference letters for outstanding students who have taken any of my classes. To qualify for a reference letter, you must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. You must be in good standing in all of your classes. This means your average should be A- (80%) or above.

  2. You must have received at least a grade of 82% in my class, with at least one straight A (85%) in any of the exams. This implies that you must have finished my course and received a final grade. I will not consider requests for reference letters until all final grades are available.

  3. You must have demonstrated superior communication skills through active participation in my class.

  4. Your records must indicate consistency in your performance.

  5. You must have been enrolled at UBC for at least 2 years. (I make exceptions for exceptionally good exchange students.)

§2. If your standing in another course is better than in my course(s), I strongly suggest that you contact the instructor of this other course first. It is not in your best interest if I cannot rank you as one of my best students in a given year. I cannot provide reference letters to students for which I cannot vouch in good conscience.

§3. To apply for a reference letter, you must provide

  1. A complete set of transcripts of your academic achievements during your enrollment at UBC.

  2. A curriculum vitae (also known as a résumé) that contains information about your academic and professional career, language skills, and extracurricular activities such as volunteer work.

  3. A one-page mission statement in which you describe the goals for your future career and your strengths.

  4. A recent photograph [in most cases the digital photograph I have on file is sufficient].

  5. Additionally, you should inform me about anything that may pertain to your job application.

§4. Once I have examined this material, I will decide if the application fulfills the criteria outlined above. In case I reject an application, I will return the material to the applicant. When I write a reference letter, I will keep the material for future reference. Please indicate if you are applying for positions in business or for a graduate program.

§5. I will provide two and no more than two signed originals of the reference letter that are addressed TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. If you are applying to a graduate program at another university, I will address the letters to the program director.

Policy on Team Work

§1. Each team member is fully responsible for contacting the other team member(s) within one week after the team assignments have been posted. Do not wait to get contacted by others; take the initiative and contact the other team members yourself. If you have difficulties contacting another team member, please inform me immediately. Each team member is also equally responsible for organizing the work and dividing it into suitable sets of tasks.

§2. I do not make use of intra-team peer evaluations in team projects. While peer evaluations have some merit in dealing with "free riding" problems, the negative aspects of peer evaluations outweigh this positive aspect. There are three negative aspects to peer evaluations. First, peer evaluations create an atmosphere of competition where instead there should be an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual help. Second, by not differentiating grades among team members, the stronger team members have an incentive to take on a positive leadership role, divide the work into suitable partial projects, and encourage weaker team members to contribute fully. Third, peer evaluations allow for coalition formation that could lead to an apparently consistent negative evaluation of another team member, where in fact this evaluation is not based on merit but on personal likes and dislikes. Thus, this policy on peer evaluations trades off a small loss in evaluation accuracy for a significant gain in team spirit and team performance.

§3. As I cannot observe the individual contribution of team members outside the classroom, each team member will receive the same grade for the team project.

§4. If you report to me (in writing) an incidence of shirking by another team member, fairness requires that I invite a response from the team member that is alleged to have taken a "free ride". I will take such reports seriously if they are accompanied by evidence (such as meeting notes; a list of meetings that were not attended, etc.) and are signed by all other team members. I will only act on such complaints if I find the evidence sufficient and the complaint meritorious. In such cases I will consult with the undergraduate office before making a decision.

§5. If a team experiences any problem at all with respect to the coordination of the team work, the division of tasks, or the level of contribution by individual team members, I strongly recommend that you inform me immediately. I will try to address such a situation proactively, and will encourage the full and fair participation of every team member. It is usually a good idea to schedule a meeting with me during which all team members are present.

§6. Occasionally I make use of inter-team (as opposed to intra-team) peer evaluations for team presentations where individual students provide evaluations of all teams except for the one in which they have participated themselves. I routinely conduct such inter-team peer evaluations in graduate courses where graduate students have sufficient academic expertise and professional experience to make such assessments. Conversely, I rarely use inter-team evaluations in undergraduate courses. Inter-team peer evaluations are conducted by secret ballot. I reserve the right to set an appropriate weight between for my own evaluation relative to the students' evaluations. The instructor's weight is no less than 25% and does not exceed 75%.

Policy on Video Recording Team Presentations

§1. I may video-record student presentations for the purpose of (a) evaluating the presentation and (b) providing feedback to the student or student team making the presentation. Access to these video-recording is restricted to the instructor and members of each presenting team.

§2. In order to provide feedback video-recordings of student presentations are made available to the presenting team in a format suitable for downloading (MP4, 512x288). On request, and time and resources permitting, I will make available higher-resolution versions in DVD quality (720x480) or full high-definition of the original recording.

§3. Presenting teams may request to share the video-recordings with the rest of the class. There is no obligation or expectation that students share these recordings. Sharing of video-recorded presentations with other students in the class is entirely voluntary.

§4. Video-recordings of student presentations are deleted no later than six months after they have been recorded.

Policy on Plagiarism

§1. Plagiarism is taking the thoughts or writings of someone else and passing them off as one's own. Both parts of the definition must be fulfilled before plagiarism exists.

§2. In cases where I believe that plagiarism has occurred, I will first provide the student with an opportunity to explain the matter, and, if plagiarism is still thought to exist, will inform the Dean or his delegate. The Dean (or its delegate) and I will then either impose an appropriate penalty or, in any case they deem to be "substantial or complete plagiarism," will refer the matter to the President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. Students should be aware of the following excerpt from the UBC Calendar: The penalty for substantial or complete plagiarism ... normally is suspension from the University.

§3. Substantial plagiarism exists when the writer has in more than a few cases copied phrases and/or sentences while making it appear otherwise. One source or several may be used, but the writer fails to use quotation marks and fails to footnote adequately. The sources copied from may be listed in the bibliography, but such listing in no way reduces the plagiarism. Often lengthy passages are copied with a few words changed in most phrases and sentences -- this is plagiarism unless footnotes and quotation marks are numerous enough to illustrate the full extent of the writer's laziness or inability. Complete plagiarism exists when an entire essay is copied from an author, or composed by another person, and presented as original work.

University Policies

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