Principles & Guidelines

Economics Department Principles and Guidelines


Core Educational Principles and Values

The Economics Department faculty is committed to providing our students with an excellent education in economic theory and empirical methods. We believe that there is a set of skills and habits that is essential for student success in our courses, other College courses, and in the workplace and beyond. We are committed to supporting the development of these skills through the design of our courses and through our interactions with students. The following principles and values guide our course design and teaching and apply to faculty and students alike:


Respect: Successful courses are based on constructive interactions between instructors and all the students in the course. Faculty and students should treat one another with humanity, dignity, and respect.


Equity: The classroom should be a level playing field in which policies and requirements apply fairly to all students. This commitment includes the implementation of ADR approved accommodations, which provide students with disabilities the access and support they need.


Integrity: The Wellesley College Honor Code is at the core of our academic program and its values of integrity and honesty should be held by all members of the community.


Compassion: Life is complicated, and there will always be times when circumstances make it difficult for us to do our very best work. Faculty should engage in a caring way with students experiencing academic or personal difficulties, including by encouraging students to develop strategies that allow them to manage their workload in the face of normal day-to-day stresses.


Inclusivity: Successful courses are ones in which every student feels like a valued member of the class community. All course participants, students and faculty alike, should strive to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment. 


Engagement: Learning takes place both in the classroom and outside, and our small class sizes allow students to engage actively with the material, the professor and each other. Faculty should design their course content and materials carefully and communicate their expectations clearly, while students should recognize enrollment in a course as a commitment to be engaged in all aspects of the course.


Progress: Economics is a sequential discipline, both across and within courses, where success with later material requires mastery of earlier material. Faculty and students should be attentive to the need to keep up with course material and exert consistent effort across the semester.


Choice: As mature learners, students have agency to make choices within the framework of the course as designed by the faculty member and communicated in the syllabus. We encourage students to make thoughtful choices, for example about how to allocate their time.


Guidelines Arising from these Principles

The guidelines below are based on the principles and values that underlie the department’s educational philosophy and our experience-based understanding of the practices and behaviors that promote student learning and success in our courses.


Syllabus: Designing a course, and presenting that design in the syllabus, is a significant part of the intellectual work of teaching and is done with considerable thought and care on the part of a faculty member. Faculty members will provide students with the syllabus on the first day of classes and will review that syllabus in class. Students will be expected to read the syllabus and to know its contents. The syllabus will contain the following elements:

  • Contact information for the faculty member and guidance on course communication
  • Learning objectives for the course
  • Assignments and their associated dates and weights in the grading scheme
  • A course schedule or outline
  • Course policies

(Engagement, Inclusivity, Respect)


Communication: The syllabus will establish the communication mechanism that will be used for the course (e.g., email, Slack, Google chat, Sakai forums). Students will be responsible for checking the relevant forum and responding as necessary. Faculty members will read and respond to messages from students in a timely manner (Engagement, Inclusivity, Respect)


Attendance: Students are expected to attend all class meetings. Students who need to be absent will typically be responsible for informing faculty in advance, although some faculty members may describe different expectations on their syllabi. Faculty will establish limits on absences (generally 10% to 15% of the total number of class meetings), beyond which they may impose sanctions that may include grade deductions or asking students to withdraw from the course. Students who miss class meetings will be encouraged to work with classmates to catch up on the material they missed; faculty members will respond to questions but will not be expected to provide individual tutorials on material missed as a result of a missed class meeting. (Choice, Compassion, Engagement, Respect)


Tardiness:  Students are expected to be in class and ready to begin at the appointed hour. Tardiness beyond 5 minutes will typically be treated as half an absence. (Engagement, Respect)


Assignments: Assigned work is intended to both enhance and assess student learning. Common assignments include problem sets, quizzes, exams, presentations, and papers.  Faculty members may also evaluate class participation. Students should consider the timing and format of assignments in a course to be fixed parts of the course design and should not anticipate that they will be changed. Faculty members will inform students of any changes to the syllabus in advance and will be clear about when collaboration with classmates is and is not permitted. (Engagement, Integrity, Progress, Respect)


Extensions: Most courses are designed so that the material builds upon itself; once an assignment is missed or pushed back, it can be increasingly challenging for students to keep up. Faculty members will establish the grade deduction policy that applies to late work (generally 10% to 25% per day) and include it on the syllabus. (Choice, Engagement, Equity, Progress)


Exam Accommodations: Wellesley’s ADR office provides faculty with notice of the accommodations for which students in their courses are eligible. Individual students will be responsible for working with faculty to arrange for accommodated testing and should do so at least two weeks in advance of each exam or assignment. Accommodated testing will normally occur on the date of the scheduled exam. (Equity, Respect)


Make-up exams: Students who know in advance that they need to be absent on a scheduled exam day will generally be permitted to make arrangements with the faculty member to take the exam early. Normally, students who are prevented by an emergency from taking an exam will have their other course assignments reweighted, though some faculty may choose to give a make-up exam the following day. Students who miss an exam without notifying the faculty member in advance or having a documented emergency should expect to receive a grade of zero for that exam, though faculty might choose to offer the option of reweighting other assignments. (Equity, Integrity, Progress, Respect)


Grade changes: Faculty will change grades after returning work only in cases where a grading error is detected. Consistent with College policy, final grades can only be changed through petition to the Academic Review Board, and only in instances where there is a grading error. (Equity)


Honor code: Faculty will enforce the Honor Code by reporting all violations to the Honor Code Council and following their procedures for adjudication. (Equity, Integrity)


Incompletes: Students must request that a faculty member give them a grade of incomplete. If a student has not requested an incomplete, College policy requires faculty to submit grades based on the work submitted and the grading weights announced in the syllabus, giving a score of zero to work not received. Ordinarily, a request for an incomplete will be granted only in cases where students are missing a single assignment or exam. (Engagement, Progress)