Policies on Distance Learning

Equity in Grading and Assignments

Anyone who is teaching a course that has both local and distance students is required to use the same grading standards for both local and distance students. In particular, it is not permitted to have two different "curves" for the two populations.

This policy is based on the following considerations:

  1. On all of the documents department submitted to SACS and ABET for their respsective accreditations, we maintained that distance and local students are required to do exactly the same assignments and exams, and they are graded according to exactly the same standards. Since accreditation of our distance courses is based on these representations it is important that we adhere to them.

  2. According to the student and faculty handbooks, the one and only basis for a student grade appeal is that the grade was "inequitably assigned in that a gross violation of the instructor's own specified grading standards". The department interprets distance sections as being part of the same course with on-campus sections. Applying two different grading standards to students in a single course would be inequitable in that applying either of the two standards would be a gross violation of the other standard for the same course, just as if an instructor had one set of grading standards for students who meet on Mondays and Wednesdays and another for students who meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or one standard for US citizens and another standard for international students.


All examinations, whether distant or on the main FSU campus, will be proctored by individuals known to and approved by the department.

All students in a given course in a given term will take the same midterm and final examinations, and the examinations will be given as near to the same time as is possible.

To this end, students who live in Tallahassee or within commuting distance of Tallahassee are expected to make arrangments to come to campus to take the exams with the on-campus students.

Since this only requires visits to campus at most three days per term, and the dates are set far in advance, this is not considered to be an unreasonable burden for distance students.

The procedures and rules for exceptions to this policy are the same as for an on-campus student missing an examination. See the Student Handbook or Faculty Handbook for more details.

Resident Students in Distance Courses

Distance learning sections of courses are normally intended for students who are admitted as distance students and have taken the prerequisite courses in distance learning mode.

We have found that when resident students sign up for a single distance course the failure rate is unusually high. The high failure rate is attributed to several factors, including inexperience with the disciplines, procedures, and mechanisms required for distance learning. A distance student must be very self-disciplined and self-reliant, to do all the reading and homework assignments on-time throughout the term, without the help and reminding resident students get from their regular classroom meetings. A distance student must also be familiar with the web-based communication tools used in our courses.

Students who start out in distance learning courses with COP 3502 and COP 3330 pick these skills up gradually, and some allowance is made in that course for the students' need to adapt to the distance learning mode. Students who cannot make the adaptation drop out. In higher level courses, the instructors assume students already have made the DL adaptation. It can be very challenging and frustrating for a student to jump into the student's first distance learning course starting above the level of COP 3502 and COP 3330.

Therefore, students who are enrolled as regular resident students on the Tallahassee campus are required to register in the regular resident on-campus sections during terms when on-campus sections are available.

Requests for exceptions to this policy must be submitted in writing to the Director of Undergraduate Studies and must include a signed statement that the student understands that a distance learning course is likely to require a higher level of individual effort, self reliance, and self discipline than the student has experienced in regular on-campus courses, and documentation of irreconcilable scheduling conflicts with job, family responsibilities, or other courses.

Copyright © 2002 Florida State University Computer Science Department
Last modified by baker on 2000/08/11 18:21:00.