Instructor GuidelinesComputer Science
Last modified: 2002 Sept 19
Experienced faculty and the undergraduate coordinator will help you learn the ropes.
For examples of on-line information refered in the body of this document,
it is best to look at www pages for
courses in this term and previous terms and in the course files on Prism under
Regulations & Departmental Policy
- You must provide a course outline during the first week of classes which
indicates the date and relative weight of assignments/test/exams. You can hand out paper copies or
post as a web page, or put in the course directory for Prism.
- It is strongly recommend that you do not change the grading scheme, except in extreme
If you want to change something, it requires unanimous
student consent in writing.
- If you use percent grades then you must use the standard mapping.
A+ [90-100], A [80-89), B+ [75-79), B+[70-74), C+ [65-69), C [60-64),
D+ [55-59), D [50-54), E [40-49), F [0-39)
you must have marked and returned at least 20% of the work by the drop
date, approximately at the 2/3 point in a course. It is suggested that part should come from
assignments and part from tests, so students have an idea how they are doing in each area.
- You can't have a test worth more than 20% during the last two weeks.
- Rationale: students
skip classes in other courses to "study" for the test, perturbing other courses and annoying the
instructors of those courses.
- Please check the class distribution list
periodically through the term.
Only mark and hand back work to students who are officially enrolled.
Problems and administrative headaches occur when students receive marked work but
are not officially enrolled. Please keep, however, any work handed by students not officially
enrolled. It may be an adminstrative error that has prevented enrollment. Such students may be
- The current term's course lists are available on CAT in the
directory /cs/dept/dist (a logical pointer that changes every term). These are
downloaded copies of the list you can get through through Maya (faculty access to
York's course lists via the web).
- Distribution lists are updated at 7:00 am every day.
- You to send mail to the students in your course or
to grab a list of addresses for use in your own e-mail program.
- Technical documentation.
If you have any questions about the class distribution lists, feel free to mail tech.
You can use Unix's spreadsheet program sc for recording marks. The program
dist2sc can convert the distribuion list files to sc's format.
Telling students their grades
You can't post student marks on your door for privacy reasons (even if
you only use the student number).
- It is an informal departmental policy not to post the grades on doors.
use the course information utility courseInfo. A man page is available on CAT and
Prism. A less secure form is to use webCourseInfoby John Amanatides
-- see the man page on CAT and
documentation . Another web
version ePost by Hamzeh Roumani -- see -- see the
- Final grades are not official until approved by Senate. Be sure to state this clearly when
final grades are put into the courseInfo file. The Department approves grades before passing them
on to the Faculty level. Grades have been changed, although rarely.
- It is recommended that you use courseInfo to post grades and record special circumstances
individual students (such as moving the weight of a midterm class test to the final examination
due to illness) throughout the term. It eliminates
being bugged by students on this question, and helps eliminate recording errors and other
misunderstandings. See on Prism, for example, /cs/dept/course/1999-01/W/2011/infoFile,
you can seeALL the interactions for special cases.
Telling the Department the final grades
At the end of the term, when handing in the final grades,
you also have to hand in a detailed breakdown
(the grades for individual pieces of work), the weighting of every piece of work, the date
when the grade was made available to students, and any special circumstances for individuals
such as a change in weighting of the final examination due to a a student missing a midterm test
due to illness. In complex cases please hand in the algorithm used to compute the final grade --
for example, the best of 3 tests, or the weight of not done exercises is added to the final
- This is very important because students may petition months later, when instructors are not
available and the information is required by the petitions committe to help judge the validity of the
- All this information can appear in the courseInfo file, or instructor spreadsheet
which can be handed in.
Summary of end of term forms
- Course description forms -- used as a historical record to find information about
- Final grade distribution forms -- used to produce tables for the grades ratification
meeting -- some day this may be automated.
Please append detail grades for each student, as well as the final grade
-- information needed for the inevitable petitions.
Grade reporting form-- from the registrar's office
-- mark sense bubbles for final grades, we ship off to the registrar.
- Anomalous grades
A course or section with an enrollment of more than 15 and with a grade profile matching one or
more of the following criteria is considered to be anomalous.
- 30% or more A+ or A grades
- 30% or more E or F grades
- In multi-section courses, the section average grades span more than 1 grade point.
If an anomalous grade profile exists, you must submit an anomalous grade report,
for approval by CEAS
(Committee on Examinations and Academic Standards), to the
academic director of FPAS with a copy to the undergraduate coordinator of COSC.
CEAS would like a rationale, together with a
breakdown of the components comprising the final grade,
their weighting, e.g. % class tests, % exam, % assignments etc., and the distributions
for each component.
Changing a final grade
If you need to change the final grade of a student
(result of deferred exam, etc.) make sure to fill out a Grade Change Notification form
(available from the undergrad office).
Simply e-mailing the undergrad office isn't enough as signatures are required.
(Instructors have learned the hard way)
- Formal final examinations are the norm for 1000-, 2000- and 3000-level courses.
- Instructors of multi-section courses are encouraged to have common final examinations.
- Preparation: Instructors are given, towards the end of the term deadlines when to
submit the examination for duplication by the faculty -- very important for large courses. For small
courses (about 50 students or less) and
when the instructor is willing, they can use the photocopy machine in CCB 126.
- It is up to the course instructor/director
to ensure there are enough invigilators for final examinations.
- Guidelines indicate that one invigilator is needed for approximately every 50 students.
- For 3000- and 4000-level courses, the instructor as invigilator is sufficient. In multi-section
and 4000-level courses with common exams, the combined set of instructors is usually sufficent.
- For 1000-level and 2000-level courses, the instructors and TAs combine to do invigilation.
- Attendance sheets
- Take the sign in sheets to the examination.
- For small classes you can use the preprinted sheets with student names, distributed by
the undergraduate office.
- For large classes, or if you prefer, or if the preprinted sheets are not available, then
obtain from the undergraduate office the undergraduate examination attendance sheets.
- After about 15-30 minutes, carry the attendance sheets to each student and have them sign it.
student should show you a photo id (tell the students before the start of
the examination), unless you know all the students. This is a great job for the TAs.
- As soon as practical, after the examination,
return the attendance sheets to the undergraduate office.
- What to do with the examination papers
When you have completed marking the examination papers, please take them to the undergraduate office
for storage. They are archived for a year in case a student petitions for a remark. Please sort the
examinations in alphabetical order before giving them to the undergraduate office.
Deferred Standing agreements
In some cases students may not be able to complete course work on time, cannot attend the
final examination or miss a final examination.
Students can present a
Deferred Standing Agreement form to the course director. If the course director and student
agree as to what needs to be done and by when (a few days or a couple of weeks after the end of the
examination period then the form can be
completed by specifying the details of the deferred standing
agreement. The most common use is to have an examination on a different day -- can be either before
or after the formal examination time -- or have some term work handed in late. Typical reasons are
medical, examination time conflict, and a person has to be away to due work committements.
If the period of time is more than a couple of weeks after the examination period, then the student
should petition their home faculty for a deferment.
Course directors do not have to agree to deferred standing unless they are convinced
that either the
grounds are valid and the circumstance has been documented sufficiently to be convincing. If an
instructor does not want to sign a deferred standing agreement form, they should inform the student
that the student may petition for deferred standing.
Deferred final examinations are organized by the course director -- setting of the time with
consultation with the student (especially if a deferred examination is granted by petition),
finding the room and having invigilation.
Petition forms and procedures are obtained from the Registrar's office and
typically take months. Students petition their home faculty -- neither the undergraduate office
nor the departmental petitions committee deal with deferred standing petitions. Petitions require
instructors to fill out a Course Performance Summary form that states what work the student
has or has not done, what grades they got, what the due dates where, by when did students know their
grades and other information. Students take course performance summary forms to course
director, who can either give completed form back to the student, or send the form directly to
the registrar's office. Students can also submit the course performance summary forms to the
undergraduate office. The undergraduate office forwards the form to the appropriate course
director or, if the course director is not avaialable, fills in the form as best it can from the
grades information course directors give to the office (see the section Telling the Department
the final grades).
Revaluations & Petitions
Course work -- assignments and classes tests
These are handled by the instructor, or course director in multisection courses that are coordinated.
The student must make the request within 14 days of the the grades being made available
(not when a particular student found out about the grade).
The student may appeal the decision resulting from the reevaluation within 14 days of being told
the result of the reevaluation. The appeal goes to the Departmental Petitions committee. The student
obtains a form from the undergraduate office, fills it in and submits the form.
The student should resumbit the work together with a written request to
reevaluated the work. The request must have an explanation stating exactly what parts they think
were under/over evaluated and why they think so. A request to reevaluate in hope of having a
higher grade should be rejected.
On accepting the reevaluation, the student should be informed that the grade may go up, may
remain the same, or may go down.
The instructor reevaluates the entire work, answering the specific points the student brought up,
and addressing other points that may surface during the reevaluation.
Student is informed of the result of the revaluation. I very strongly recommend that this be
recorded in the infoFile. Please see the section Recording extra student interactions, it
is important as it saves the large amount of time wasted on just one problem with not
recording every special case.
Final examinations and final grades
If it is a simple matter of recomputing the final grade in that the student detected a
recording error in one or more pieces of work, or a calculation error in computing the final grade,
then these are handled by the instructor.
Reevaluation of final examinations is handled by the Departmental petitions committee.
The request must be made within 21 days of the grade being sent by the registrar's office.
The student obtains a petition form and a photocopy of the final examination -- should they
want that reevaluated. The Department charges a fee for photocopying.
The student fills out the petition form stating exactly what the problem is and what remedy they
would like. Revaluations of the final examination require stating exactly what parts they think
were under/over evaluated and why they think so. A request to reevaluate in hope of having a
higher grade will be rejected.
The Department petitions committee either rejects the petition or grants the petition. If a
final examination is to be reevaluated, the petititons committee gives it to the course director if
the examination was marked by many people (e.g. 1520, 1530, 1020, 1030 and other multisection courses
have TAs and multiple instructors marking), or gives it to another faculty member for reevaluation,
if the instructor was the only person to make the original evaluation. The objective is to
have an independent second opinion.
The result of the petition is mailed to the student. The final grade may go up, may go down,
or may remain the same.
Appealing the result of Departmental Petitions
The result of a Departmental petition may be appealed only on procedural grounds to the petitions
committee of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science. The appeal should be made within 21 days of
being notified by the Department Petitions Committee. Petition forms are available at the registrar's
Advice & informal departmental policy
Try to schedule 2 office hours/week for each course. Please post office hours
where students can gain access to the information
such as course WWW page or Prism course directory. The office will ask you, by email, for your office
hours so they can inform students when they enquire.
Electronic assignment submission
The undergraduate teaching lab (Prism) 'submit' command can be used to collect
assignments electronically - see 'man submit' on any Prism machine.
Prism course directories
- A set of directories are created on Prism every year for every term in which instructors
can store files that they do not wish to post on the web or are inappropriate to post on the web.
- Answers to tests and solutions to assignments
- Specifications for exercises and assignments
- Files that may be used in exercises and assignments
- The course infoFile.
- Subdirectories for electronic assignment submission
- The directories are under the directory /cs/dept/course and are organized by year and
within year by term.
- The current term is accessed using path /cs/course/.
- Instructors insert a directory with the course number as the name -- e.g. 3311
- Students access the files using the path /cs/course/[course-number] -- e.g.
- For multi-section courses that have common assignments and other data,
it is recommended to use a common directory. If sections are not closely coordinated and
innformation is different in each section, then the course number should be suffixed with the
section label -- e.g. /cs/course/3311A, /cs/course/3311B. This makes is easier when faculty are looking
for past information to find the appropriate directory.
Recording extra student interactions
Create a file and record extra student interactions,
eg. who you gave extensions to, special arrangments re. midterms,
who you signed letters of permission and when, etc.
You will find it invaluable if students petition later on (and they will). Some instructors put
much of this information into the courseInfo file. See on Prism, for example,
you can seeALL the interactions for special cases. It is very important to record these
and also make it possible for the student to verify that you have recorded the case. This
eliminates much student anxiety, simplifies handling peitions, and simplifies dealing with with
student questions about what happened. Please remember, you as instructor, are not the only person
students deal with regarding course work. Please help the undergraduate office deal with problems.
The amount of TA support you can expect is:
|| TA hours/student
| 1020 || 3
| 1030 || 1.3
| 1520/30 || 1
| 1540 || 1.6
| 2xxx || 1.3
| 3xxx || 1.3 (1.5 for Digital Logic)
| 4xxx || 1 (for large classes (>= 30 students))
TAs are used to invigilate final examinations, hold office hours,
mark assignments, be available in Prism (1000-level normally),
preparse solutions. About 10% is allocated to meetings with the
instructor -- for example, to learn marking guidelines, brief the
instructor on student problems in assignments and office hours.
So schedule your assignments accordingly.
For TAs who are graduate students (called Unit I) you have to fill in
a workload form at the beginning of the term outlining the number of hours
they will do at each task.
A second form is filled in about halfway through the term as a checkpoint.
You are not bound by the hours on the first form,
it is a guideline to the instructor and TA as to what may be done.
All the work is considered to be equivalent by the union, so you can
reallocate hours during the term as circumstances dictate,
as long as you do not exceed the maximum number of hours allocated to
While workload forms are not required for TAs that are not
graduate students (called Unit II),
it is a good policy to use them to minimize misunderstandings that may arise.
Workload forms are obtained from the graduate assistant. The TAs should bring them
to the initial meeting.
In multi-section courses with common assignments, it convenient to pool the TAs and have one
instructor in charge for each task. For example, in 2011 with 2 sections and 4 TAS, you can have
3 different TAs work in rotation on different assignments, while the instructors rotate as
who is in charge. This helps distribute the load.
Sept. 19, 2002 by John Amanatides