professor teaching class

Guidelines for Those New to Teaching at Northern Illinois University

Teaching for the first time at a new university can be enjoyable and daunting at the same time. Whether you are an experienced teacher or new to the profession, being prepared to teach at a new institution will help you transition and succeed in your new environment. The following information on course policies, teaching policies, and teaching-related resources should help you start your teaching career at NIU successfully!

Course Policies

For each course you teach you will need to establish a set of policies. Course policies help describe your expectations of student behavior as well as what students can expect from you. The following are some fundamental policies and applicable to any course in higher education. Feel free to include other policies as necessary.

Academic Integrity

To help students understand their responsibilities related to academic integrity, include such a statement in your syllabus. Provide a definition of academic integrity and the consequences that students will face when they breach this important behavior.

Course Syllabus Policy

Instructors of record are required to develop a syllabus for every course they teach and distribute the syllabus to students enrolled in the course in an appropriate written format. The syllabus must be distributed in class or posted electronically on Blackboard on or before the first scheduled day of the course. See syllabus toolkit and syllabus statements for more suggestions on what to include in your course syllabus.

Dates & Deadlines

With the exception of the School of Law, the beginning and ending dates of each semester for undergraduate and graduate courses are the same. However, due dates can vary so check the official academic calendar for each semester when planning your course outline.

Final Examination Policy

Except with the written approval of the dean of the college, all undergraduate classes are to meet for examination or other instructional purposes at the time assigned in the final examination schedule. Class meetings scheduled during the final examination period are considered part of the regular semester. Evening classes scheduled for a final meeting during the final examination period also fall under this policy.

Grading – Plus/Minus Grading

The plus/minus grading system is the official grading system approved by the university for undergraduate and graduate students. The way you assign grades in a course is your responsibility and should be outlined in your course syllabi. The plus/minus system provides more grade options, but how those options are utilized is the decision of the instructor.

Late Work

Including a late work policy in your course syllabus will help students understand your expectations and consequences of their actions. This article provides useful guidelines on writing a meaningful and realistic late work policy for your course.

Missed Class Related to Authorized University Events

At the beginning of the semester the Student Athlete Academic Support Service (SAASS) office will notify student-athletes' professors of all travel and competition dates. SAASS coordinators will assist in the arrangement of any missed exams or quizzes to lessen the stress of missing classes.

Student Attendance Policy

Course attendance can be course-specific and is completely at the purview of the instructor. Be specific about your own attendance policy to ensure students understand the consequences for missing any portion of your course.

Student Evaluation of Instruction

During the last quarter of the semester, students in all courses are given the opportunity to evaluate your teaching through a formal evaluation process. The evaluation questions are department-/ program-specific and available to students either as an in-class paper or online format.

Syllabus Accessibility Statement

All faculty are encouraged to include this statement on all course syllabi.

Teaching Policies

Teaching policies differ than course policies in that they are specific to you and your teaching practice. The following resources are specific to NIU but are applicable to any teaching experience.

Confidentiality of Student Records

Directory information pertaining to students of NIU is never knowingly provided to any requester for a commercial purpose. The Registration and Records Office at NIU strictly adheres to the policies governing students' education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – see FERPA below.

Faculty Workload Policy and Guidelines

The distribution of workload assignments for a tenured/tenure-track academic faculty member will be determined in accordance with the mission and priorities of the University and the goals and needs of that faculty members governing Unit.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA assures the right of students to have access to their educational records. The primary practical effect of this law is that it requires all NIU employees to respect the confidentiality of personally identifiable student information by adhering to well-defined guidelines about its release.

Grievance Procedures for Students

The process for students filing a grievance is listed under NIU’s Constitution and Bylaws.

NIU’s Intellectual Property Policy

The purpose of this document is to state for NIU faculty, staff, and students the relevant University policies, as well as the nature of the responsibilities, privileges, and options held by faculty, staff, and students pertaining to the creation of intellectual properties.

Ordering Textbooks

The NIU Bookstore offers an online textbook ordering form with which you can search for a book and select your courses.

Outside Consulting, Research and Outside Employment

Faculty who wish to engage in outside consulting, research (OCR) or outside employment (OE) activities must comply with the University Faculty Research and Consulting Act of 1969 and the Board of Trustees Regulations Section II. B. 2. on Outside Employment.

Plagiarism Detection through SafeAssign in Blackboard

SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention tool that detects unoriginal content in students' papers by identifying areas of overlap between submitted assignments and existing works.

Statement of Professional Ethics for Faculty

This statement refers to faculty as teachers, colleagues, members of an academic institution, and members of their community and their personal and professional ethics.

Statement on Professional Behavior of Employees

Housed under the Division of Academic Affairs, this statement includes its own preamble, disposition of complaints, rationale for a university collegiality policy, maintenance of a collaborative and cooperative community, provision of positive work environment, and protection of academic freedom.

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct outlines the process the university follows when charging students with an alleged violation. The code explains sanction options for those students who admit to or are found responsible for a violation.

Policy on Relationships between University Employees and Students

This policy specifies that a university employee should not be romantically or sexually involved with a student whom he or she teaches, advises, coaches, or supervises in any way.

Teaching-related Resources

NIU has many services and resources that support teaching. Click on the link to learn more about each of these resources that can help support your teaching activities.

Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Toolkit

Resources for navigating classroom dynamics, bias in the classroom, and culturally responsive teaching.

Accreditation, Assessment and Evaluation

The Accreditation, Assessment and Evaluation function of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness manages accreditation and assessment initiatives and provides support for evaluation projects.

Blackboard Support

New faculty will be automatically provided with an NIU AccountID that will allow them to request a Blackboard course.

Document and Print Management

NIU’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) supports the university’s need for professionally designed and finished print materials and the goals of modernizing business processes while reducing unnecessary print volume and inefficiencies in storage and retrieval of information.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL)

The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning provides comprehensive services supporting effective and innovative teaching in pursuit of transformative learning experiences.

Faculty Mentoring Students – Research Rookies

Research Rookies provides freshmen, sophomores, and first-semester transfer students with the opportunity to participate in research and artistry initiatives at NIU. By working with an NIU faculty mentor, students have the opportunity to get involved in their potential field of study and ground-breaking research and artistry.

Faculty Mentoring Program

This is a voluntary program through which experienced faculty at NIU knowledgeable about the campus and academic life are matched with new faculty to orient them to NIU, inform them about campus support services, and assist them in the early stages of their academic careers at NIU.

Students with Personal and Emotional Needs

Counseling & Consultation Services provides comprehensive mental health support for currently enrolled students at NIU.

Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)

WAC at NIU provides a faculty-centered service focused on the most effective methods in writing instruction.

Writing Center

The NIU Writing Center is a support system for the NIU community. All students, faculty, alumnus, and student-at-large can receive help to brainstorm, draft, revise, and perfect their work.

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595

Back to top