Papers & Assignments

This page addresses assignment design and student guidancepaper submission and returning papers.

Assignment Design and Student Guidance

Course assignments, including papers, projects, iMovies, and other such work, should support the pedagogical goals of the course.  If the TFs play a role in devising assignments and other forms of evaluation, the teaching staff may want to review the advice listed on the Designing Your Course page of the Bok Center’s website.  For example, students writing longer essays or working on larger projects often find it helpful to work through stages, including writing a brief one-page prospectus.  Gen Ed's Instructional Support Services Team (ISST) is also available to help guide students by visiting sections or holding workshops for students, among other options.

Many courses include information on the syllabus or on assignment sheets about when and where papers are to be submitted and returned.  These instructions often include a stated expectation that students cite their sources carefully and correctly.  The student’s responsibility for accurate citation is described in the section on plagiarism and collaboration in the Harvard College Handbook for Students and in the Harvard Writing Program's Writing with Internet Sources.  See also Issues of Academic Integrity.

Paper Submission

If papers are turned in at any time other than a lecture or section meeting, a member of the teaching staff must be present to receive them. Papers should never be submitted to an unsecured mailbox.  Under no circumstances will the Gen Ed Office accept student papers on behalf of any member of the teaching staff.

If papers are to be submitted electronically, set up a “dropbox” topic box on the course website or have students submit their papers electronically to the course's Canvas site; students should not e-mail papers and assignments as attachments.  TFs may print copies of these papers using the computers and printers in the Gen Ed Office.

If late papers are penalized according to an explicit formula, this should be a course-wide policy and students should be informed in advance.  Teaching staff should contact students who have failed to turn in their papers after two or three days in order to ensure that there are no other serious issues present.  This effort may identify students who think they have dropped the course, or whom you assume to have dropped the course, but are still listed on the Registrar’s enrollment list on your course website.  It also identifies students who have been attending a section other than the one to which they were assigned.  If a student is unresponsive, the TF should inform the Head TF and/or the course head and should contact the student’s Resident Dean as soon as possible.

The course head may decide that penalties for late papers will be waived under certain circumstances and specify how a student must document these circumstances.  However, any extension of time beyond the end of Exam Period may only be granted by the Administrative Board of Harvard College.  See Makeup Final Exams to learn more.

Returning Papers

Papers can usually be returned at section meetings, specially designated office hours, or (if it is the end of the term) at the final exam.  Under no circumstances should papers ever be left unattended outside a TF’s office or in any other public area, including open mail boxes.  Students’ work, such as problem sets, exam booklets, or papers, should not be accessible to anyone other than the student who has submitted it, unless specifically authorized by that student.  The Gen Ed Office cannot be asked to supervise the return of papers.  Please note the following guidelines published in Information for Faculty Offering Instruction in Arts and Sciences:

It is the Faculty’s legal responsibility to maintain confidentiality of student grades and also of materials upon which evaluations are made. For this reason, instructors should not post grades by student name or student identification number. Furthermore, instructors should never make a student’s submitted work, such as problem sets, exam booklets, or papers, accessible to anyone other than the student who has submitted it, unless specifically authorized to do so by the author.