Emphasis on Teaching
by Marshall Brain
The Rights of Students
The following document is handed out to my classes each semester
as part of my course packet. It was created with the help of a
group of students that I taught in a special section of CSC101.
This document defines the rights of students: It specifies what
students have the right to expect of the teacher in the classroom,
and from the university.
The Rights of Students
The most important people at a university are the students. They
are the reason for the university's existence, and should be the
focus of the university's efforts. The goal of any university
should be to provide its students with the best education possible--to
provide students with the best return for their tuition investment.
Research is essential to a university education. Students receive
the best, most current education in an active and enthusiastic
research environment. Whenever research is given a higher priority
than education however, the university has lost sight of its purpose
and its goal.
Students have rights granted to them because they have paid tuition
to receive an education. Some of these rights are identified below:
- Students have the right to be treated as adult human beings.
Students are not some sort of underclass--they are the reason
for the university's existence.
- Students have the right to be taught in an understandable
manner. The purpose of the teacher in a classroom is to help students
to understand the course material, not to cause confusion.
- Students have the right to ask questions, and to clarify their
understanding without being harassed or embarrassed by the teacher.
Students have the right to maintain a dialog with their teacher,
because this dialog is education. Class size should never grow
so large that this dialog is prevented.
- Students have the right to receive their education from high
quality teachers who are experts in their field. Students have
the right to evaluate their teachers, and evaluation results should
have an effect. Poorly rated teachers should be retrained or removed
from the classroom.
- Students have the right to expect certain services and courtesies
from the teacher. For example:
- The teacher should provide the class with a course syllabus
on the first day of class. The teacher should follow the syllabus.
- The teacher should have posted office hours, and should be
present during those hours.
- The teacher should grade tests and homeworks within one week.
- The teacher should be present in the classroom during tests
to answer questions.
- The teacher should be prepared for class.
- The teacher should teach the course described in the course
- The teacher should begin and end the class on time.
- Students have the right to expect that all university rules
and policies will be enforced, and that violations will be dealt
- Students have the right to be graded fairly, and to be graded
consistently with other students in their section. Students should
be told how they will be graded in the course syllabus. On each
assignment or test, students have the right to know the criteria
used for grading.
- Students have the right to appeal any grade which they feel
is unfair or inconsistent to an impartial authority, without the
threat of harassment or embarrassment.
- Students have the right to be tested fairly. Students have
the right to know what material will be covered on a test. Material
on any test should be representative of material covered in the
class. Students have the right to know the correct answers and
grading scale used to mark the test. Students have the right to
know the average and distribution on a test.
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