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Academic Policies

Academic Policies

Please see the College academic policies and programs in the Gordon College Undergraduate Academic Catalog.


Gordon College is committed to a holistic view of learning that encourages students to participate in a variety of educational opportunities both in and beyond the classroom. In fact, Gordon offers such a wide array of educational activities that occasionally schedules for various learning programs conflict with one another. When scheduling conflicts arise classroom requirements take priority. Faculty members have jurisdiction over attendance policies in their classes, and students are required to abide by the attendance requirements described in course syllabi.

Faculty members, however, are encouraged to support the wide variety of programs at the College by exploring ways a student can make up portions of the course missed because of College-sponsored events. On occasion athletic teams, mission programs, musical groups and other College programs schedule events or tours that conflict with class times. Students will be expected to confer with faculty well in advance of such dates to discuss possible alternatives, normally before the end of the second week of the semester. (Student athletes are not allowed to seek alternatives to class sessions to attend athletic practices. Faculty members should also recognize that student athletes themselves are sometimes given short notice about playoff competitions or makeup competitions in athletics.) Students are responsible for all work missed and may be required to complete additional assignments in lieu of class attendance.

If a student does provide adequate notification, the College expects all faculty members to make reasonable accommodation for the student. However, the faculty member has the right to determine whether or not a student should be excused from a class session to participate in another College-sponsored event, taking into consideration the student’s academic performance, the nature of the subject matter covered during the class session and the number of absences incurred or requested by the student.

Some faculty members plan field trips as part of their courses. If at all possible such trips should be scheduled at times that do not require absences from other classes or conflict with obligations students have accepted as members of athletic teams, student development programs, musical groups, etc. If an academic field trip is scheduled during a time that conflicts with other courses or other College-sponsored events, the faculty member scheduling the field trip must allow the student an alternative way of fulfilling the requirement of the field trip.

No College events or field trips requiring class absence may be scheduled during the first five school days of the quad or semester or during final exams (quad or full-semester), unless approved during the prior semester by the Academic Programs Committee.

The Division of Education’s practica have priority over other College-sponsored events that occur during practica periods.

In addition to meeting classroom requirements for their courses, students must also meet chapel and convocation attendance policy requirements as defined in the Gordon College Student Handbook.


Notice of a class cancellation will be sent via email. Students must wait 15 minutes before leaving if an instructor fails to appear for class. If all classes are canceled due to inclement weather or other reasons, it will be announced by the College mass notification system (phone, email, text, etc.) and posted on the College websites.


A final examination or other appropriate activity is required during scheduled quad and semester final exam periods. Faculty are not authorized to change final exam times. Quad and final exam schedules are clearly detailed on class schedules each term and on the College website. Final examinations may not be changed due to travel arrangements or outside commitments or conflicts. However, students are not required to take more than two in-class final exams on any given day. Students with three or more final exams on the same day may petition to have one examination time reassigned by contacting the Registrar’s Office. Changes are not allowed for any other reason. The Academic Programs Committee will only consider petitions demonstrating severe emergencies. Students failing to take final exams receive automatic zeros, which are averaged into the final course grade.


The Gordon College student is expected to live a life of honesty and integrity consistent with the demands of Christian discipleship. Therefore, academic dishonesty—which occurs chiefly in the form of cheating and plagiarism—is regarded by Gordon College as a major violation of both the academic and spiritual principles of this community. A student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive disciplinary sanctions, which may include a failing grade on an assignment or failure of the course; in extreme cases or a repeat offense, the student may also face academic suspension or expulsion from the College. Given the serious consequences of academic dishonesty, students are encouraged to discuss any difficulties openly with their instructors instead of resorting to dishonest conduct.


Plagiarism is defined as presenting another person’s words, work or opinions as one’s own. The College recognizes that not all forms of plagiarism are the same and, as such, has adopted the following classifications:


  • Description: This type of plagiarism is often the result of a student’s limited knowledge of the conventions of academic writing; it does not stem from a deliberate intent to deceive but rather from errors of form or minor appropriations of another’s work. Examples include the use of short but distinctive phrases without citation, substitution of synonyms into a sentence of similar form and meaning to the original author’s or copying a source’s line of logic or argument.
  • Penalty: The faculty member will determine the appropriate penalty at his or her discretion, bearing in mind that the chief objective is to educate the student about the expectations of academic writing. A likely response is to require the student to rewrite the assignment; it is left to the faculty member to decide whether or not any grade penalty is necessary.


  • Description: This type of plagiarism is more extensive and more serious than the instances that fall into the first category. In this case, sentences or paragraphs from other sources are inserted verbatim into the assignment without any citation, and it is reasonable to expect that the student should have known better than to do so.
  • Penalty: In most instances the instructor will issue a grade penalty on the assignment in question, whether a failing grade for the assignment or an opportunity to redo the assignment for a reduced grade. The instructor should also consider the magnitude of the assignment (e.g., homework vs. final exam) in determining the penalty.


  • Description: This type of plagiarism constitutes clear academic dishonesty, as there is an obvious intent to appropriate someone else’s work and to deceive the instructor. The difference between moderate and substantial plagiarism is largely one of extent. Examples of substantial plagiarism include submitting someone else’s complete work as one’s own, submitting an assignment that has been purchased online or reusing an assignment or a portion of an assignment that has been previously submitted for another course without explicit permission to do so.
  • Penalty: As with moderate plagiarism the magnitude of the assignment may be a consideration in determining the penalty. In most cases the instructor will issue a failing grade for the course and require the student to meet with an academic dean to discuss the incident. Any subsequent offense may result in expulsion from the College at the discretion of the provost. 

Accomplices to Plagiarism

A person is an accomplice to plagiarism and equally guilty if that person:

  • Allows his or her work, in outline or finished form, to be submitted as the work of another person.
  • Prepares a written assignment for another person and allows it to be submitted as that person’s work.
  • Keeps or contributes to a file of papers or speeches with the clear intent that these papers or speeches be submitted as the work of anyone other than the author.

Faculty Response to Plagiarism

Responses to instances of plagiarism come at the supervising faculty member's discretion in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. In the event of apparent plagiarism, the instructor should first discuss the matter with the student individually. (If it is not possible to meet with the student in person, the instructor should attempt to have this conversation via phone or email.) During this discussion, the instructor should make sure to:
    1. Present the evidence of plagiarism.
    2. Listen for any additional information from the student’s account of the incident.
    3. Review the College’s plagiarism policies with the student.
  2. Based on the three categories described above, the instructor should determine the level of plagiarism in which the student has engaged and the penalty for this action, with the assumption that it is the student’s first offense. 
  3. The faculty member should then inform the Provost’s Office of the incident using the “Report of Plagiarism Form.” 
  4. The Provost’s Office will maintain a central record of all instances of plagiarism in order to track multiple offenses. If the incident is not the student’s first offense, the penalty will be determined in consultation between the faculty member, the student’s academic adviser, the Provost’s Office and the Office of Student Life. Department chairs and any faculty members who have submitted previous reports for the student also may be consulted in determining the appropriate penalty.
  5. Upon submission of the final report, a staff member in the Provost’s Office will contact the student to share the report and to explain the student’s right to appeal the decision.

Appeal Process

Students have the right to appeal decisions regarding academic dishonesty. Should a student wish to appeal, he or she must submit a formal request to the Provost’s Office within 10 business days of learning of the decision. An academic dean will convene a small group comprising a representative from the Office of Student Life and a full-time faculty member in order to review the particulars of the case and weigh the student’s appeal.

Interaction with the Office of Student Life

As academic dishonesty constitutes a violation of both the academic and spiritual principles of the College community, the Provost’s Office will communicate regularly with the Office of Student Life regarding such instances. The purpose of such communication is primarily so that the Student Life staff, who are often aware of additional behavioral issues or personal difficulties, can maintain a comprehensive overview of the student and also alert academic staff to other relevant concerns.

*This policy was approved by the Academic Programs Committee in April 2015. Portions of this policy have been adapted with permission from the policy at Westmont College.

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Academic Rights and Responsibilities for Students and Faculty

Gordon College has high academic standards for both faculty and students. Each student has the right to expect competence in faculty instruction and fairness in the student evaluation process. Each faculty member has the right to expect that students will complete all assignments outlined in the course syllabus.

These rights must be exercised in an atmosphere of trust that grows out of a common Christian commitment. A faculty member trusts the students to complete assignments without cheating or plagiarizing. Students trust the faculty member to provide the best instruction and to make fair professional judgments regarding student performance.

When the trust relationship is violated by either party, the community is committed to seeking reconciliation at the lowest possible level and as quickly as possible.

Most rights and responsibilities of both faculty and students are already contained in The Administrative-Faculty Handbook and the College catalog. However, to focus on those aspects of the student/faculty relationship growing out of classroom interaction, the College is committed to the following:

Faculty members will:

  1. Receive respect from all students.
  2. Determine course syllabi that follow the format and standards set forth in The Administrative-Faculty Handbook.
  3. Establish reasonable course requirements and state them clearly at the beginning of the course.
  4. Establish the course content within the limits of the approved catalog description.
  5. Set forth the form and style of student evaluation to be used in each course.
  6. Expect students to complete all requirements outlined in the course syllabus as distributed to students at the beginning of each course.
  7. Expect each student to be responsible for what transpires in regular class sessions, regardless of whether the student was in attendance.

Students will:

  1. Receive respect and consideration from the faculty member teaching the course.
  2. Expect the faculty member to adhere to the syllabus distributed at the beginning of the course and to the course description contained in the College catalog. In some cases changes may be necessary. Minor changes in the syllabus must be announced well in advance. No major additions may be made to the course requirements after the first five days of classes, and major additions in the first week must be made in writing. Evaluation procedures must also be outlined via the syllabus during the first five days of the course.
  3. Receive the results of tests, papers and other evaluation processes within a reasonable amount of time. Normally papers and exams should be graded and returned no later than three weeks after they are received from the student.
  4. Receive a fair evaluation that uses acceptable means and that balances objective measures and subjective professional judgment whenever possible.
  5. Expect that all regular classes in a course will meet unless the faculty member has made alternative provisions in advance. If a faculty member plans to be absent for professional purposes, he or she is expected to arrange for classes to be covered. A student who believes a faculty member to have acted irresponsibly in this area may bring the matter to the attention of the academic dean and the Academic Programs Committee for investigation.
  6. Receive a grade that will be based upon an accurate calculation of all evaluation procedures completed in the course.
  7. Expect freedom from discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, disability, veteran status, national or ethnic origin, philosophical position or religious affiliation.

Students with concerns regarding accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 should contact the Academic Success Center immediately. If the situation is not resolved, refer to the grievance policy in the Academic Support Center section.


If a faculty member feels a student has violated his or her rights, and discussion with the student proves unfruitful, he or she may seek redress through the student judiciary process. If a student feels a faculty member has violated his or her rights, and discussion with the faculty member proves unfruitful, he or she may seek redress through the following procedure:

  1. The issue should first be discussed with the student’s faculty advisor in an attempt to resolve it at the lowest level.
  2. If the issue cannot be thus resolved, the student may then proceed to discuss the issue with the department chair or the division chair in which the course is offered.
  3. If a perceived injustice is not resolved in this manner, a student may seek formal resolution by stating the case in writing and submitting it to the Dean of Faculty. The decision of the Dean of Faculty is final.


Online students may file a complaint with the office of the Vice President for Academic Initiatives, either by email ([email protected]) or phone (978.867.4113). For matters not resolved at the institutional level, Massachusetts residents enrolled in online courses may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) using the general complaint form; online students residing in SARA member states (other than Massachusetts) may appeal complaints to the DHE using the SARA Complaint form.

For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Gordon, if not resolved, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the general complaint form. The DHE general complaint form should be used by students who are located in:

  • Massachusetts
  • Non-SARA member states or territories (e.g., California, Guam)

For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Gordon, if not resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. THe DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica or clinical experiences in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

Additional information from the DHE's SARA complaint website is below:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution. 
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint.
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

More information about DHE's complaint processes can be found here.

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