Welcome to the First-Year Writing program at St. John's
University. The University is grateful to have writing specialists
like you teaching our incoming students. In no small way you'll be
serving as mentors for our incoming class, initiating them into the
complexities, frustrations, and rewards of writing for various
audiences, academic and otherwise. It's an exciting time to be
teaching first-year writing at St. John's, especially with the
recent creation of the Institute for Writing Studies.
Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions; these
are intended for all new and returning first-year writing faculty,
whether full-time, part-time, or doctoral teaching fellows. As
faculty you are also expected to familiarize yourself with all of
the website pages contained in the "For Faculty" section of the
First-Year Writing program.
Our First-Year Writing program strives to strike a balance between
ensuring that faculty have the flexibility to develop their own
assignments and readings, and maintaining cohesive program
identity. Consequently, there is no required handbook or strictly
defined assignment sequences to which all faculty must adhere. (In
fact, we tend to favor an approach where handbooks are avoided in
favor of locally generated materials.) However, we ask faculty to
remember that this is a cohesive writing program. As such, it is
the Director's responsibiltiy to ensure that all faculty are
working toward fulfilling the program mission and successfully
implementing the program learning objectives.
Posting Your Syllabus
All faculty are expected to supply their students with a detailed
syllabus outlining all assignments and course policies. We
ask that faculty post their syllabi onto Blackboard or some other
social networking site (free to students) so as to be in compliance
with the University's push towards maintaining a green campus and
All faculty are expected to meet students individually at least 2-3
times a semester for fifteen minute conferences.
Most courses in St. John's College do not have mandatory attendance
policies. Our course is one of the exceptions. Make sure all your
students receive the following mandatory attendance policy in
- Students are permitted to have no more than 3 absences in a
M-TH or T-F course, and no more than 1 absence in courses that meet
once a week. As soon as a student misses a 4th or 2nd class
respectively, he or she fails the course.
If a student has a legitimate excuse, such as a doctor's
notice, car accident, or death in the family, this is considered
unavoidable and as should not count toward the total number of
absences. Use your judgment to determine whether or not such
absences are legitimate and should be excused.
Student athletes who miss classes due to athletic obligations must
provide you with a statement, usually from one of their coaches,
indicating the dates they cannot attend class. These students have
no choice but to miss class on these dates. If a student athlete's
absences amount to more than the permissible number for your
course, he or she should not be penalized for these missed classes.
(Because their coaches continually monitor them, student athletes
tend to miss few if any classes other than those required because
of sporting events.) Should you have any questions about student
athlete attendance, contact the coach for more information.
We expect all students to be on time for class. Occasionally
students will have legitimate reasons for being late--those
commuting from the Manhattan campus, for example, or who have been
delayed because they are coming from a job--but in general all of
your students should be able to be in class on time. When some
students are chronically late, some of our faculty count this as an
absence. It's up to you how to respond to excessive tardiness, but
regardless of your own specific policy, you should make it clear to
your students that they are expected to be in class on time.
The best defense against plagiarism is well-designed
assignments and sustained revision. Being able to monitor student
writing over time eliminates plagiarism, or at least highlights it
when it happens. Making assignments relevant and local--connected
to student interests, concerns, and local situations and
conditions--can go far to remove plagiarism from student
Many cases of plagiarism are unintentional, the result of a
student's misunderstanding more than a willful attempt to take
credit for another's work. Many students are not clear as to what
constitutes plagiarism; they hear a professor require outside
sources but fail to understand how to incorporate those sources.
These students are of course responsible for their mistakes, but
before penalizing them they need to be taught methods for citing
sources. Other times students willfully plagiarize out of laziness
or apathy. Others "self-plagiarize": submitting the same work for
different courses (something some faculty permit while others do
In every first-year writing course we need to make time to talk to
students about the concept of plagiarism and what it means within
an academic culture. Many faculty choose to have such conversations
when teaching units on how to use sources (see below).
In May 2006 the Liberal Arts Faculty Council approved the following
recommended (not mandated) procedure for handling plagiarism
I. First Instance of
1. Student given an F for the
2. Note sent to student’s Dean
with copy of plagiarized assignment and proof.
3. Student required to take
the MITT (Multimedia Integrity Teaching Tool).
4. Student not permitted to
complete another assignment until MITT is completed.
II. Second Instance (in
1. Student given an F for
2. Note sent to student’s Dean
with copy of plagiarized assignment and proof. Dean is notified
that this is second instance of plagiarism in same course and that
student received an F for the course.