The policies and procedures for the evaluation of student performance are consistent with University policy: the faculty has final responsibility for all decisions about student performance. At the same time, as members of the academic community, students have a voice in decisions that affect them.
- It is the responsibility of the instructor to determine whether or not the student has met the requirements of the course.
- The instructor is responsible for informing students about the course objectives and requirements. The instructor is also responsible for defining the criteria that will be used to assess whether the student has met the course requirements and for informing students about the criteria. Course performance expectations may apply to performance on examinations, papers, class participation and performance in the field, among other evaluative criteria.
The SP2 letter grade evaluation system is consistent with that used by the MA and PhD programs at the University. That system consists of grades of A, B, C, D, and F with pluses and minuses possible for A, B, or C. Courses used to fulfill degree requirements may not be taken as Pass/Fail.
Grade Point Averages
(GPAs) are tabulated at the end of each semester and on a cumulative basis. GPAs are established on the following scale:
A plus: 4.0
A minus: 3.7
B plus: 3.3
B minus: 2.7
C plus: 2.3
C minus: 1.7
Faculty of the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) are at liberty to use the full range of the grading system, that is, from ‘A’ to ‘F’. Grade categories used in SP2 follow those of the Graduate Division of the University of Pennsylvania: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor but passing; and F, failure. The use of a plus or minus (+ or -) with a letter grade is at the discretion of the instructor. Unless an instructor notes a different scale in their syllabus, the following scale outlines the grade range for determining “+” and “–“ after a letter grade in the MSW program:
60-69: D (In MSW required classes, a D converts to an F)
Below 60: F
If a student’s work is failing, they are to be given an F. All other grade categories are considered to be passing grades.
Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (CU). One CU is equal to 4 semester hours. The majority of SP2 courses are valued at one course unit. Additional information regarding course credit information is available from the university Registrar.
Grade of Incomplete
If a student cannot complete the work for a course by the end of the semester, they may request an Incomplete (‘I’) from the instructor if the student’s work in the course is of passing quality up to that point. The grade of ‘I’ allows the student, with the permission of the professor, to finish a small amount of work that has not been done by the end of the semester. In accordance with the policy of the Graduate Division, the instructor may permit an extension of up to one year for completion of the course; the instructor is not required to grant a one-year extension and may specify an earlier deadline.
When a student takes an ‘I’, they must complete the work within the time specified by the instructor. It is the student’s responsibility to find out how much time the faculty member requires to review course work and submit a grade. Students must give the faculty member a minimum of three weeks to read late assignments and submit a grade. More time may be required by individual faculty members, particularly at the end of the semester. Faculty are not required to review student work during the summer unless a prior agreement has been reached between the student and the faculty member.
An ‘I’ that is not finished by the deadline specified by the instructor automatically becomes an ‘F’. The instructor may change the ‘F’ to another grade when the work is finished.
If a student has an ‘I’ for a course that is a prerequisite for a subsequent class, the ‘I’ must be changed to an acceptable letter grade before the start date of the subsequent class.
Notification of Failure to Meet Course Expectations
A student or an instructor may request at any time a meeting between them to discuss student performance. When an instructor discerns that a student is not meeting course expectations, they should notify the student in writing. The instructor should use the electronic Courses In Touch system to send a Course Problem Notice to the student. The Course Problem Notice generates an email to the student, with a copy of the email automatically sent to the Academic Advisor. The Academic Advisor should also create a note in the Advisor in Touch system, which becomes part of the student’s record. The exception to this policy is if the student’s failure to meet course requirements occurs as a result of performance on a final examination or final assignment.
Grade Point Average Minimum Requirement
To be in good academic standing in the School and the University, students in SP2 must maintain a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or above. If not, the student will be placed on academic probation.
A cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or above is required for graduation.
Academic Probation Procedure
A student will be placed on academic probation if they have:
- a semester (including summer session) GPA below 3.0, or
- a cumulative GPA below 3.0, or
- a grade below the established minimum in a program-designated course (see “Course Failure” section above), or
- an ‘F’ in any course.
A student on Academic Probation is expected to meet with their Educational Advisor to design a performance improvement plan. If the student achieves a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above at the end of the subsequent semester and/or retakes a course and receives a grade above the specified minimum, the student will be removed from academic probation. If the student does not achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above and/or a grade above the specified minimum in a course that is retaken at the end of the subsequent semester, the student is subject to dismissal from the program. Notice of the beginning and ending of each academic probation period will be made in writing to the student by the student’s educational advisor, with a copy to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
Faculty Committee on Academic Standing
The Faculty Committee on Academic Standing (FCAS) is composed of three members of the Standing Faculty, appointed by the Dean. The Committee on Academic Standing is convened to hear appeals by students who have been dismissed from any of the School’s master’s programs for academic or non-academic reasons. A student may appeal the decision to be dismissed from the program by sending a letter stating the specific grounds for his/her appeal to the Dean within two (2) weeks from the date of the written dismissal notice. The Dean will then convene the Committee on Academic Standing to review the circumstances. The Committee on Academic Standing will make the final decision and notify the student in writing. Copies of the decision will be sent to the student, the Dean, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and the student record.
Grade Appeal Procedure
In accordance with University policy, faculty members have the authority to make academic judgments in relation to their students. A student who believes they were graded unfairly should proceed according to the following steps:
Step 1. Review the concern with the appropriate instructor(s). If this review does not result in resolution,
Step 2. Review the concern with the Educational Advisor. If this review does not result in resolution,
Step 2a. NPL and MSSP students: Review the concern with the Faculty Director of your program. If this review does not result in resolution,
Step 3. Review the concern with the Faculty Program Director. The Faculty Program Director will make the final determination about the student’s appeal.
Code of Academic Integrity
Since the University is an academic community, its fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. Essential to the success of this educational mission is a commitment to the principles of academic integrity. Every member of the University community is responsible for upholding the highest standards of honesty at all times. Students, as members of the community, are also responsible for adhering to the principles and spirit of the following Code of Academic Integrity.
SP2 students are required to familiarize themselves with the Code of Academic Integrity. SP2 requires all entering students to complete an academic integrity quiz during New Student Orientation. SP2 works closely with The Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CCSA) to ensure students maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. CCSA is a supportive campus resource where faculty can receive consultation on how to manage academic integrity violations. A consultation is not an official complaint against a student. Ultimately, SP2 faculty have discretion on how to handle academic integrity violations.
Activities that have the effect or intention of interfering with education, pursuit of knowledge, or fair evaluation of a student’s performance are prohibited. Examples of such activities include but are not limited to the following definitions:
- Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work or preventing, or attempting to prevent, another from using authorized assistance, material, or study aids. Example: using a cheat sheet in a quiz or exam, altering a graded exam, and resubmitting it for a better grade, etc.
- Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment. Example: copying another person’s paper, article, or computer work and submitting it for an assignment, cloning someone else’s ideas without attribution, failing to use quotation marks where appropriate, etc.
- Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise. Example: making up data for an experiment, fudging data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving sources, etc.
- Multiple submission: submitting, without prior permission, any work submitted to fulfill another academic requirement.
- Misrepresentation of academic records: misrepresenting or tampering with or attempting to tamper with any portion of a student’s transcripts or academic record, either before or after coming to the University of Pennsylvania. Example: forging a change of grade slip, tampering with computer records, falsifying academic information on one’s resume, etc.
- Facilitating academic dishonesty: knowingly helping or attempting to help another violate any provision of the Code. Example: working together on a take-home exam, etc.
- Unfair advantage: attempting to gain unauthorized advantage over fellow students in an academic exercise. Example: gaining or providing unauthorized access to examination materials, obstructing or interfering with another student’s efforts in an academic exercise, lying about a need for an extension for an exam or paper, continuing to write even when time is up during an exam, destroying or keeping library materials for one’s own use, etc.
Non-Academic Performance Policies
Students are expected to comply with University policies and regulations outlined in the Penn Book, the University Code of Student Conduct, the Code of Academic Integrity, and the Master’s Student Handbook. Students are expected to incorporate the highest standard of ethics in every element of their work and to manifest in their behaviors and demonstrate knowledge, skills, maturity, and emotional stability necessary to function as a professional.
Examples of non-academic performance and conduct that will subject the student to disciplinary action or dismissal from the program include:
- Violations of the University Code of Academic Integrity (e.g., plagiarism).
- Behavior determined to be a violation of University or School policies or regulations.
- Behavior determined to be a violation of the profession’s ethics (e.g., NASW Code of Ethics in the case of social work).
- Inability to secure, sustain, or perform satisfactorily in a field placement.
- Behaviors that do not meet professional expectations and standards, which include generally accepted standards of professional conduct, personal integrity, or emotional stability for professional practice.
- Behaviors determined to be unprofessional conduct towards colleagues, faculty, or staff.
Standards and procedures for student non-academic performance are particular to specific professional standards or academic programs. Therefore, additional procedures that operationalize these standards and action steps in response to violations can be found in the policies for specific programs.
Alleged violations of the University’s Code of Student Conduct, Code of Academic Integrity, and other applicable policies regarding student behavior may be referred to the Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CCSA). The CCSA is responsible for acting on behalf of the University in matters of student discipline. The CCSA deals with alleged instances of academic dishonesty and other student misconduct, in order to determine how best to resolve these allegations consistent with the goals and mission of the University as an educational and intellectual community. For more information on the CCSA see: https://csa.upenn.edu/.
SP2 Social Media Guidelines
The purpose of the social media policy is to provide guidance on how SP2 students can engage with social media platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, blogs or other social media or networking sites, and not jeopardize their good standing as graduate students or violate the professional code of ethics specifically related to students enrolled in the Master of Social Work program or for students who are professional social workers enrolled in a doctoral program.
As students at the University, we expect you to abide by our Principle of Responsible Conduct. These principles extend to students’ use of social medial platforms. Therefore, SP2 students are encouraged to carefully consider the possible impact and consequences before posting material about students, colleagues, internships, practicums, field agency and not post anything that implies schools, the University or other professional contacts, and School of Social Policy & Practice staff and faculty that could be construed as defamatory, threatening, harassing, hateful or humiliating.
As a rule, SP2 students should not post anything on social media that refers to or discloses information about other people, especially clients, without first gaining appropriate consent and carefully considering the possible impact and consequences of doing so.
Do not post any client information, including photographs or videos, on social media, without first gaining appropriate consent from the client(s) and when appropriate, the agency setting. Breaching client confidentiality and/or privacy may: 1) cause harm to the client(s); 2) violate professional ethics (https://www.socialworkers.org/about/ethics/code-of-ethics/code-of-ethics-english), agency policy or law and 3) result in professional or legal sanction. Simply removing a person’s name does not render that information de-identified.
SP2 students should use personal email addresses, not Penn email addresses, in personal online postings.
*Note that pseudonymous email addresses or online identities can be traced, so their use does not protect you from responsibility or liabilities for your online postings.
*Please see the University’s Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources for additional rules related to the use of email and other electronic resources: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/policy/aup.html.