Course Requirements and Expectations

Clearly stating your expectations and course requirements allows students to plan and to understand how the course is structured. It can also help you avoid typical questions from students like the following:

  • “Can I turn it in late?”
  • “Can I get extra credit?”
  • “Can I re-do the assignment?”
  • “You didn’t tell us we had to…”
  • “It wasn’t clear that…”
  • “Can I revise an exam question if I interpreted it incorrectly?”


  • Are readings listed on the course schedule, on Blackboard or elsewhere?
  • When is each reading due?
  • How do course readings reinforce and support course content?
  • Are books on reserve at the library?
  • Is there a place for students to post additional readings (or other materials) that they want to share?

Class Participation Policy

As you define class participation, you might consider the following:

  • Attendance
  • Participating in class discussions or activities
  • Posting online resources for peers
  • Participating in online discussion threads
  • Completing lab assignments
  • Attending rehearsals
  • Logging hours in an art studio
  • Participating in group projects
  • Quality of questions asked
  • Meeting with faculty during office hours

Attendance Policy

  • Are students expected to attend all classes?
  • What is an excused absence? (e.g. illness, religious holidays, team games)?
  • Can students make up missed work or exams?
  • What are the consequences of excessive absences?

Policy on Collaborative Work

For courses that emphasize teamwork and collaboration, it helps to be very clear with students when an assignment or activity is not meant to be discussed with others in the class. When exams, papers and outside work is intended to reflect only the students own work, clearly stating this policy can avoid problems with academic integrity violation. View a copy of the AU Academic Integrity Code.


Note: During the course, it can be useful to help students connect individual assignments to student learning outcomes and overall course goals. It also provides clarity to consider issues such as

  • How you will assess student competency. Items might include:
    • Exams
    • Quizzes
    • Readings
    • Presentations
    • Group Projects
    • Projects
  • Clearly stating when assginments are due.
  • Noting how assignments should be submitted:
    • Hard copies turned in
    • Via email
    • Blackboard drop-box
    • A drop-box you create for the course outside of Blackboard
  • What happens if assignments are turned in late?

Other Course Policies

  • Can students use laptops in class?
  • Will cell phones be used in class (e.g., as clickers)? Is their use prohibited?
  • What happens if assignments are turned in late?
  • Can students gain extra credit for additional work?
  • Can coursework that has been submitted and graded be revised?
  • How should written work by others be cited (e.g., is there a preferred style for references)?
  • Which course activities are collaborative and which must be individual work?
  • Are there specific online resources students should or should not use for the course?

Social Media Policy

The following resources were finalized by the Social Media Policy Committee in May 2015. They provide information for both students and for faculty. The sections for students can be added to your course syllabi.

Friends and colleagues,

Social media are powerful, rapidly evolving tools for communication, information gathering, teaching, and learning. Like other media, robust use of social media has become integral to democratic processes in modern societies. Use of social media are generally protected from government interference by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

At the same time, use of these tools sometimes raises complex issues concerning ownership and fair use of intellectual property; personal privacy and legal protections for privacy in learning environments; and access to learning services. Social media may in some situations also pose significant challenges to academic integrity and social responsibility.

The guidelines offered below for social media use are intended for discussion throughout American University as practical measures for coping with the impact of these media on learning, teaching, and research. The proposed guidelines should be viewed as part of the overall AU umbrella of policies and guidelines for faculty, staff, and students. They are one part of the ongoing training, learning, and conversation needed across AU to keep pace with technological change and challenges.

Key concepts include:

  • Separate your professional use of social media from your personal uses to the greatest extent possible, including by maintaining separate accounts.
  • Establish clear policies for student use of social media in your courses that are consistent with the learning needs and opportunities of your subject, and ensure that students understand your policies.
  • Establish terms of permitted uses of intellectual property created by the professor or by other students, including uses via social media.
  • Ensure fair access for all students to all learning tools available at American University, including social media.
  • Strengthen respect for the personal privacy of students and compliance with relevant federal, state, and local laws such as FERPA.


The Faculty Senate Adhoc Social Media Committee

Co-chairs: Ayman Omar & Jenise Overmier

Authors: Zoe Charlton, Barbara Emshwiller, Ayman Omar, Jenise Overmier, Jane Palmer, Chris Simpson, Scott Talan, and Brian Yates.

Social Media Guidelines and Tips for Faculty, Staff and Students 

Authors: Scott Talan and Max Faye

For Faculty: 

  • Set clear boundaries with current students about what an acceptable social media relationship is between you (the faculty member) and them (the students). Respect student’s boundaries as well.
  • Be mindful of the fact that your activities on social media platforms, along with anything posted by you, do represent American University. On personal sites: Identify your views as your own.
  • We suggest faculty respond to requests initiated by current students on personal social media accounts and do not initiate them, as this may create an uncomfortable situation. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media outlet.
  • If you have concerns, consider creating separate social media accounts for personal use and school/class use.

For Staff: 

  • Be mindful of the fact that your activities on social media platforms, along with anything posted by you do represent American University. When you post on non-AU sites identify your views as your own.
  • We suggest staff respond to requests initiated by current students on social media and do not initiate them as this may create an uncomfortable situation. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media outlet.
  • Keep in mind that a student may view staff has being in a superior position in terms of the dynamics of the relationship. This is true also for staff members who are of the same generation as current students.

For Students: 

  • Please realize that while some faculty use social media in class and their lives, not all do. Be respectful of this when requesting or contacting a specific faculty or staff member on social media.
  • Before initiating any contact on social media platforms, be sure to consider that the faculty/staff member may have work/personal life boundaries, and they may not consider social media relationships to be appropriate. Just ask them. (The reverse is true with any faculty who may reach out to you).
  • When posting content on social media keep in mind that anyone (from fellow students, to professors to future employers) can see these materials now and after you graduate. Even the best privacy settings do not prevent someone from taking a screen shot of something you post.

Syllabus Language for Social Media

Students are not permitted to make visual or audio recordings, including live streaming, of classroom lectures or any class related content, using any type of recording devices (e.g., smart phone, computer, digital recorder, etc.) unless prior permission from the instructor is obtained , and there are no objections from any of the students in the class. If permission is granted, personal use and sharing of recordings and any electronic copies of course materials (e.g., PowerPoints, formulas, lecture notes and any classroom discussions online or otherwise) is limited to the personal use of students registered in the course and for educational purposes only, even after the end of the course. Exceptions will be made for student who present a signed Letter of Accommodation from the Academic Support and Access Center. See: Documentation and Eligibility.

To supplement the classroom experience, lectures may be audio or video recorded by faculty and made available to students registered for this class. Faculty may record classroom lectures or discussions for pedagogical use, future student reference, or to meet the accommodation needs of students with a documented disability. These recordings are limited to personal use and may not be distributed (fileshare), sold, or posted on social media outlets without the written permission of faculty.

Unauthorized downloading, file sharing, distribution of any part of a recorded lecture or course materials. or using information for purpose other than the student’s own learning may be deemed a violation of American University’s Student Code of Conduct and subject to disciplinary action (see Student Conduct Code VI. Prohibited Conduct).