Your Grading Policies

Few aspects of a class promote as much anxiety as grading policies. You can help ease student stress by being transparent about how they will earn their grades. Be aware of your disciplinary unit policies on grading. For example, Nursing has a college-wide grading standard, while Mathematics has some class-specific grading practices. You may want to express the philosophical underpinnings of why and how you grade student work. 

  • Clearly describe what class activities contribute to a grade. 
  • Are assignments/quizzes/tests weighted? 
    • Can they resubmit work for an improved grade? 
    • Do you offer any extra credit course work? 
  • How does attendance impact a student’s grade? 

Your Attendance Policies and Absences

Faculty and/or academic departments determine class attendance policies and the Office of Disability Services offers guiding questions for faculty to consider when developing their policies. 

The pandemic has raised our awareness of how disruptive infectious disease can be on our lives. Also, most faculty do not differentiate between absences due to physical and mental health. MSU University Health Partners does not provide students with medical excuse documentation (“doctor’s notes) as part of their commitment to maintain patient confidentiality, encourage more appropriate use of health care resources, and support meaningful dialogue between faculty and students.  

  • Incorporate supportive language about how students may make up missed course work to succeed in your class in the event of absences. 
  • Ask students to contact you if they will miss class ahead of time or as soon as practical in cases where foreknowledge could not exist. 
  • Stress the importance of on-time arrival/departure and attendance based on your class activities and pedagogy. 
    • You can remind them how late arrivals and early departures can impact the learning environment for their peers. 
    • Inform students how they benefit from attending class. 
    • Alert students to how they are impacted when they miss class. 
  • Tell students to monitor their own health and not to attend class if they are ill. 
    • MSU provides guidance for students who have been exposed to and who have tested positive for Covid-19. You can put the link in your syllabus. 
  • Listing MSU resources for student wellness helps communicate that you care. 
  • Your syllabus is also a good place to communicate how your class will continue if you become ill or are required to quarantine or isolate during the semester. 
  • We encourage you to communicate with students how they will be able to continue to participate if they need to quarantine or isolate during the semester. Please email us at [email protected] if you need help developing strategies for student participation and success while they are unable to attend class in person. 

Examples of Absence Language for Your Syllabus: 


Example 1: 

Please evaluate your own health status regularly and refrain from attending class and other on-campus events if you are ill.  MSU students who miss class due to illness will be given opportunities to make up class according to the course’s medical absence policy. You are encouraged to seek appropriate medical attention for treatment of illness.  In the event of contagious illness, please do not come to class or to campus to turn in work. Instead notify me by email about your absence as soon as practical, so that accommodations can be made.  Please note that documentation (e.g., a doctor’s note) for medical excuses is not required.  MSU University Health Partners - as part their commitment to maintain patient confidentiality, to encourage more appropriate use of healthcare resources, and to support meaningful dialogue between instructors and students - does not provide such documentation. 

Example 2: 

Missed exams: Any conflicts with an exam must be discussed with me prior to missing the exam. I follow University policy on makeups, which allows that serious illness or a serious family emergency are valid reasons requiring an accommodation. Most other reasons (employment conflict, travel plans) are not valid.  

In the event of contagious illness, please do not come to class or to campus to turn in work. You should email me if you will miss class due to illness as soon as practical. 

Example 3: 

ATTENDANCE:  You are all in this together and each of you is an integral part of this class. Learn from each other. While you are in school you have an obligation to your peers to participate fully in class and in the program. Get to know one another and help each other. It is mandatory you attend the entire class period. It is imperative you attend every class, but sometimes illness and other emergencies will force you to miss class. Please contact me as soon as practical so you can stay on track. If you miss more than 20% or more of the course there may be grade implications and you may fail the course. 

Example 4:  

Attendance: Class participation and active learning are important aspects of this class and impossible to duplicate outside of class, so your attendance is critical to your success. However, students must sometimes miss examinations or other academic obligations affecting their grades because of illness, personal crises, mandated court appearances, and other emergencies.  If such absences are not excessive, I will work with you as best I can to help you succeed in the course. Please contact me as soon as possible when such absences arise so we can arrangement how to get you caught up. This policy will not apply in the case on non-emergency absences. 

If you will be absent for a university-sponsored activity, please alert me ahead of time so we can plan for any work you will miss. 

Drop/Add Policies

Including drop/add, withdrawal and incomplete policies alerts students to processes available to them when needed and can help relieve their stress if they find themselves needing to drop, withdraw or seek an incomplete. 

  • MSU has processes and specific deadlines if you need to drop my class. You can find this semester’s dates and instructions on the Registrar’s website. 

Academic Calendar, Holidays and Important Dates

Inclusion of the academic calendar, holidays and other important dates in the form of a calendar graphic or timeline, allows you and your students to visualize your class organized by date. Instead of a visualization you may list: 

  • Class start and end dates 
  • University holidays 
  • Add/Drop dates 
  • Important dates for your class, such as due dates and/or exam dates 



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