III. Instruction

Instructional Resources and Information

Confidentiality of Student Records

Educational records are kept by University offices to facilitate the educational development of students. Faculty and staff members may also keep informal records relating to their functional responsibilities with individual students.

The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 identifies the rights of students and their families with respect to student educational records kept by institutions. As part of the requirements of FERPA, the University has a Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records (Policy AD-11).

Information from records, files, and data directly related to a student may not be disclosed by any means (including telephone) to individuals or agencies outside the University (including parents) without the prior written consent of the student. Information contained in such records may be shared within the University with “university officials” having "legitimate educational interest" in such information. It is important for instructors to protect student confidentiality when listing class exam grades, returning class papers or projects, and writing letters of recommendation.

For more information, please refer to the Confidentiality/FERPA web page on the Registrar’s web site and read the Faculty and FERPA brochure also available on the web.  If you have questions, please contact the Registrar’s Office in 112 Shields Building at 814-865-6357.

Holidays and Religious Holidays

The following holidays are established by the University: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and five additional holidays in December varying in accordance with the day December 25 occurs. (Note: The College of Medicine utilizes service days in lieu of the additional December holidays.)

Penn State University recognizes in its Framework to Foster Diversity that “the multiplicity of characteristics possessed by persons are not simply tolerated but valued” and that it is each individual’s obligation to cultivate a positive and inclusive environment.” This tenet is echoed in the University Strategic Plan goal to “create a more inclusive, civil, and diverse learning community.”  Recognizing that the right of students to participate in religious observance is a fundamental element of diversity and a characteristic to be valued, Faculty Senate Policy 42-27 and AAPP E-11 state that “on occasion, students may opt to miss a class meeting in order to participate in  . . . religious observance.”

In accord with these policies and core values, a student’s decision to miss a class to participate in religious observance shall be treated within the procedures of AAPP E-11.

It may not be practical or possible to avoid all calendar conflicts with religious observances. When conflicts do arise, reasonable accommodations should be made that promote both the University’s respect for a more inclusive, civil, and diverse learning community and the integrity of the student and faculty commitment to learning. Every attempt should be made to avoid placing these two goals into conflict.

A calendar of some religious observances is available at www.sa.psu.edu/cera.

Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures

The provost, as chief academic officer, maintains authority for the Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures that govern the undergraduate curriculum and may, in consultation with faculty, deans, and other appropriate offices, make exceptions to them. The vice president and dean for undergraduate education, as the provost's agent in these matters and in collaboration with the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE), maintains and updates Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures (AAPP), which provide detailed implementation policies, procedures and guidelines across a variety of issues of importance.

Academic Services for Students

Comprehensive academic assistance, supplemental instruction, and tutoring services are available from Penn State Learning and the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes (MASCSA). The Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) provides (1) academic advising and information for anyone who requests assistance, including students, faculty, and staff in every college; (2) an enrollment option for exploratory students and for students in transition from one Penn State college to another; and (3) dissemination of information about advising and University-wide academic policies and procedures.

In addition to the advising services described above, students are assigned professional or faculty advisers upon admission to degree candidacy. Advisers are expected to provide program and professional guidance, including guidance about career opportunities, selection of courses, and information on University policies.

Disability Services

The Office for Disability Services (ODS) offers information to assist faculty in teaching qualified students with disabilities and helping these students obtain academic adjustments. A Handbook for Working with Students with Disabilities is available from the ODS Web site, under the Faculty Information section. This Web site contains information about commonly requested academic adjustments, answers to frequently asked questions, University policies and procedures, available resources and general helpful hints for faculty. Disability Contact Liaisons provide services and academic adjustments for students with disabilities at Penn State campuses other than University Park. For more information, contact the Office for Disability Services, 116 Boucke Building, University Park campus, phone 814-863-1807 (V/TTY), or refer to the Web site at www.equity.psu.edu/ods.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

As a faculty member, you have a unique opportunity to work with undergraduate students and join in their pursuit of new knowledge. Penn State, a comprehensive public research university, offers an undergraduate education that is available at only a few select institutions of higher learning. Laboratories, special library collections, museums, studios, and academic computing facilities enhance the instructional environment, and complement traditional classroom teaching and learning experiences. By involving undergraduate students in research you will be introducing them to the basic principles used to make new discoveries and develop theories. This new knowledge will help build their confidence in independent inquiry, show them the value of critical thinking, and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow's world.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates at Penn State provides information and resources to foster student involvement in research. When matching monetary commitments are provided by both department and college, the Office of Undergraduate Education makes available travel funds for undergraduates (1/3:1/3:1/3) for participation in conferences when research papers are being presented. The annual Undergraduate Exhibition held in the spring communicates and celebrates the participation of undergraduate students from across the University in research and creative endeavors.  Undergraduate Summer Discovery Grants are available through the Office of Undergraduate Education to promote student/faculty collaboration in research or creative work.

Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence

The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence is charged with promoting excellence in teaching and learning across the University. Faculty and graduate students interact with the Institute through consultations, mini-courses, workshops, grants and custom-designed events. Institute consultants help faculty integrate teaching methods beyond traditional lectures, design courses and curricula, assess student learning, gather and apply feedback on teaching, and develop innovative and valid testing methods.

The Institute promotes the scholarship of teaching and learning by providing grants for classroom research projects and collaborations on external grants. The Institute's consultants are available to work with anyone who teaches Penn State students. The Institute provides a variety of online resources to support teaching and learning initiatives. It also manages the SRTE process (Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness) and assists with appropriate use of SRTE data.

To reach a consultant, visit 301 Rider Building, call 814-863-2599, e-mail teachinglearning@psu.edu, or click "Contact Us" at www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu. The Institute also provides test scoring and computer-based testing at the Testing Center, 104 Pollock Building; call 863-8116 or visit http://testing.psu.edu.

Bachelor of Philosophy Degree

The Bachelor of Philosophy degree (B PH), administered by the Office of Undergraduate Education, enables students to develop, in conjunction with a faculty mentor, the requirements for an individualized course of study. Intended for those few whose academic goals cannot be met through existing degree curricula, the Bachelor of Philosophy may cross disciplinary boundaries that open unique paths of discovery. For additional information, see www.psu.edu/oue/bphil.