User:Aaronshaw/Course policies

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The policies below govern the courses that I (Aaron) offer at Northwestern. I list them in alphabetical order within two categories: (1) broad principles & policies and (2) class logistics.

Many of my policies are adaptations of Northwestern's recommended syllabus statements. Please take a look at that site for potentially updated links/language that may be helpful.

Please keep in mind that these are the baseline set of policies that apply across all of my courses. There are likely some specific policies related to the specific course you are taking with me, in which case please consult the appropriate section of the syllabus for that course.

Questions? Please contact me (especially if you're a student in one of my classes!).

Broad principles & policies[edit]

Academic integrity[edit]

Students in my courses are required to comply with the policies found in the booklet, "Academic Integrity at Northwestern University: A Basic Guide." All papers submitted for credit in this course must be submitted electronically unless otherwise instructed by the professor. Your written work may be tested for plagiarized content. For details regarding academic integrity at Northwestern or to download the guide, visit the office of the provost's page on academic integrity.

Personally, I expect students and colleagues to exceed the minimal standards elaborated in the basic guide and to strive for admirable, extraordinary conduct in every aspect of your academic career. Feel free to ask me for clarification about this or related matters.

The University's standards of academic integrity cannot be listed exhaustively, but the following examples represent some basic types of behavior that are unacceptable: cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, obtaining an unfair advantage, aiding and abetting academic dishonesty, falsification of records and official documents, unauthorized access to computerized academic or administrative records or systems.

For more information, visit:


Northwestern University is committed to providing the most accessible learning environment as possible for students with disabilities. Should you anticipate or experience disability-related barriers in the academic setting, please contact AccessibleNU to move forward with the university’s established accommodation process (; tel: 847-467-5530). If you already have established accommodations with AccessibleNU, please let me know as soon as possible, preferably within the first two weeks of the term, so we can work together to implement your disability accommodations. Disability information, including academic accommodations, is confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

I am also happy to do my very best to accommodate religious observance, unanticipated situations, or other circumstances as appropriate. Please get in touch.

Diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion[edit]

I am firmly committed to advancing equity, justice, and inclusion through my teaching and other professional activities. As an instructor, I strive to create an inclusive environment that accommodates diversities in experiences, perspectives, abilities, identities, and beliefs (among other forms of diversity). By encouraging a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and points of view to exist in the work of our classes, everyone’s education will be enriched. At the same time, I am cognizant of various forms of privilege and power that I or others may bring into the classroom and I acknowledge that these inequalities can shape learning experiences in sometimes adverse ways. The content covered in this syllabus and beyond in our broader curriculum is intended to be respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture.

In the classroom, I will work to address and challenge these and other forms of oppression and injustice. I am eager to support students using the course as an opportunity to do the same. Each member of our class has something of value to contribute and students are therefore encouraged to communicate and participate during class meetings. We must take care to respect the individual backgrounds, personal identities, intellectual approaches, and demographics expressed by everyone. 

To help accomplish these goals, I encourage the following:

  • If you have name(s) and/or pronoun(s) that differ from those that appear in your official records, please let me know.
  • If I or others use your name(s) and/or pronoun(s) incorrectly, please correct us and/or let me know.
  • If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please communicate with me and/or your advisor. There are also counseling and psychological services available to all Northwestern students.
  • Model cultural awareness and competencies, and support dignity and respect in every aspect of the class.
  • Speak openly and honestly about concerns related to injustice, inequity, and other problems in this class, department, institution, and broader society. Listen generously to the same.

If anything about the class undermines these values or compromises the dignity of a member of the class, please contact me or a member of the teaching team. It is my aim that all of my classes will comply with the Northwestern University non-discrimination statement. In the event of an incident violating classroom, campus, or other policies, you may contact me. You can also submit an incident report via the Northwestern Office of Equity (and that website includes links to other resources and support).

Discrimination, sexual harassment and misconduct[edit]

All participants in my classes are bound by the Northwestern University institutional equity policies related to discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and other forms of discriminatory behavior. In brief, these policies prohibit discriminatory behavior and sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind.

Please review the policies and speak to me if you have any questions or concerns. You can also submit incident reports directly via the Northwestern Office of Equity.

For issues related to sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, you may also want to consult the University's sexual misconduct response and prevention resources site (which also includes incident reporting tools).

Land acknowledgement[edit]

Northwestern University is on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires—the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa—as well as the Menominee, Miami, and Ho-Chunk nations. This land was stolen from them through colonization and forced removal.

Respectful classroom environment[edit]

Northwestern University is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression which are central to the mission of the University. Incidents of hate and bias that violate Northwestern's Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, the Student Code of Conduct, or other university rules, regulations, and policies are not legally protected expressions, are not the proper exercise of academic freedom, and may be grounds for University disciplinary action. Respect NU encompasses a reporting system where students are encouraged to submit any bias or hate related incidents that they observe on Northwestern University's campus.

For more information, visit the Campus inclusion and community incident reporting page.

Support for Wellness and Mental Health[edit]

Northwestern University is committed to supporting the wellness of our students. Student Affairs has multiple resources to support student wellness and mental health. If you are feeling distressed or overwhelmed, please reach out for help. Students can access confidential resources through the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) and the Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE). Please follow the links for additional information about all of these resources.

In addition to your academic advisor, NUhelp is designed to provide community members with access to university resources and services that serve NU students. You may share a concern for a student, identify safety and security resources, discover health and wellness programs, and find academic assistance specific to a college/school.

Class logistics[edit]


Attendance in synchronous (in-person or remote) class meetings is expected of all participants. If you need to miss class for any reason, please try to contact me and/or a member of the teaching team for the class ahead of time and/or as promptly as possible (email is best). Multiple unexplained absences may impact your grade. In the event of an absence, you are responsible for obtaining class notes, handouts, assignments, etc. You are also still responsible for turning in any assignments on time unless you make prior arrangements with the instructor(s).

In general, if you need to miss a class meeting I may ask you to submit a written reflection and/or response (about 500 words) to any assigned course materials. This is in addition to any assignments due in class the day of your absence. Please confirm this with me at the time of communicating about your absence.

Confidentiality of peers’ work and in-class discussions[edit]

Throughout a course, you may receive, read, collaborate, and/or comment on classmates’ work. These assignments are for class use only. You may not share them with anybody outside of class without explicit written permission from the author(s)/creator(s) pertaining to the specific piece(s) of work in question.

It is essential to the success of class that all participants feel comfortable discussing questions, thoughts, ideas, fears, reservations, apprehensions and confusion about works-in-progress, concepts, independent research, and more. Therefore, you should not share verbatim comments with those not in class nor should you share using other methods -- e.g., social media -- any comments linked to people’s identities unless you get clear and explicit permission from them to do so first. If you want to share general impressions or specifics of in-class discussions with those not in class, please do so without disclosing personal identities or details.


Emergencies happen. Unanticipated obstacles arise. If you cannot make a deadline, please contact me to figure out a schedule that will work. The more proactive and responsible you are, the more receptive I am likely be.

A word about extensions and incomplete grades: I strongly discourage them. In principle, I have no problem with extensions or incomplete grades. In practice, they tend to be a pain for everybody involved. If you absolutely must submit any assignment late, please assume that I may require up to 1 month (4 weeks) to grade it. Please take this into account if you will need me to to submit a grade in order to receive your fellowship/diploma/visa/etc. by a particular date.

Email protocol[edit]

I receive a lot of email and I sometimes fail to keep up. If, for some reason, I do not respond to a message related to this course within 48 hours, please do not take it personally and feel free to re-send the message with a polite reminder. This will help me and I will not resent you for it.

Appealing grades[edit]

If, after receiving a graded assignment back, you are confused by the grade or feel that it is not an accurate representation of your work, you have two options:

  1. Meet with whoever graded your work and ask for a clarification. You can then sit down and talk about your work, grading standards, possibilities for improvement, and so on.
  2. Submit to your grader, in writing, a grade appeal that provides an account of why you feel that the grade you received was inaccurate (not disappointing—inaccurate). If appropriate, they will be happy to regrade your work. Regrading is risk-free in the sense that it will never result in a "lower" grade than the one you were originally assigned.

It’s fine if you’d like to meet with your grader and then, after that meeting, request a regrade. All grade appeals (regrading requests) must be made in writing. Regrading may take up to one month after the submission of an appeal.

In-class device usage[edit]

Please refrain from uses of devices that do not directly contribute to your engagement with the course material. If this becomes a problem, I may ask you to leave class, temporarily surrender devices, and/or meet to develop a plan to mitigate in-class device usage that could adversely impact your learning or others'.


Unauthorized student recording of classroom or other academic activities (including advising sessions or office hours) is prohibited. Unauthorized recording is unethical and may also be a violation of University policy and state law. Students requesting the use of assistive technology as an accommodation should contact AccessibleNU. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings – including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited.

Under the University’s (overly restrictive and rapacious!) Copyright Policy, faculty own the copyright to instructional materials – including those resources created specifically for the purposes of instruction, such as syllabi, lectures and lecture notes, and presentations. In many cases, I have licensed my teaching materials for reuse under specific terms (usually the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license, which is the default for everything published/stored on this wiki). Students and others may remix, reuse, and redistribute such materials in a manner consistent with the terms of the license. Any uses of instructional materials that exceed or violate the terms of the license are not permitted without my express consent and authorization and may be subject to a variety of consequences. Students who engage in unauthorized recording, unauthorized use of a recording, or unauthorized distribution of instructional materials may be referred to the appropriate University office for follow-up.


Please see my page on assessment for details and rubrics I use to assess both written work and student participation in my courses.