Earlham's Approach to Academic Learning
Earlham College is a residential college of the liberal arts and sciences that prides itself on offering an outstanding undergraduate educational experience. We provide for our students the opportunity to engage in a challenging and stimulating environment.
The liberal arts experience is one that involves exposure to a variety of ways of knowing, ways that differ in discipline (e.g., history as distinct from languages) as well as differ in methodology (e.g., mathematics as distinct from philosophy, studio art as distinct from chemistry). Although students may be more or less certain when they come to Earlham about what they want to study and what they want to focus upon as their majors, however, many Earlham students change their ideas about their majors several times in the course of an academic career. As students are introduced to new disciplines, new questions, new approaches to framing and responding, it is easy to imagine students pursuing these new and stimulating lines of inquiry.
Several characteristics of an Earlham education are at the core of an Earlham experience. Certainly one of the central dimensions of an Earlham education involves an outstanding classroom experience. Small classes provide students their professors’ attention, knowing other students in their classes, and having an opportunity for meaningful interaction way with both faculty and peers.
The experiential dimension of an Earlham education is intentional. Students are out in communities, near and far, in Richmond, Indiana, and in Dakar, Senegal, from New York to New Zealand, from El Paso, Texas, to Tokyo, Japan. An experiential approach to education does not diminish the importance of what takes place in the classroom. Experiential education wants more from outside of the classroom; where classroom knowledge is applied to the “real world” context.
The international dimension of an Earlham education recognizes that we are a part of a much larger international community. We have an obligation to prepare students not only for the responsibilities of being citizens of the United States, but also to face the responsibilities of being citizens of an increasingly diverse, interconnected world. In the 2007 report of the Institute of International Education, Earlham College was ranked second in the nation in the proportion of students studying overseas. Not only do the vast majority of our students participate in an overseas studies program once, but a substantial number of our students study abroad more than once. Travel provides emphasis on experiencing languages and cultures, seeing oneself as “the other,” and learning to question assumptions by seeing through the eyes of cultures beyond one’s own.
The collaborative approach to an Earlham education recognizes all members of the Earlham community as students and teachers. Students and teachers work closely together in the educational process at Earlham. We are proud that Earlham ranks in the very top group of all institutions of higher education in the nation — major research universities as well as small liberal arts colleges — in the proportion of our students who go on to earn a Ph.D. We believe that this is because our students have the opportunity to do hands-on research while they are at Earlham, at the sides of their professors, and they have the opportunity to see close up what the quest for knowledge is all about. This generates in many of our students a quest for more education, which in itself leads to a graduate school experience.
A final key dimension of an Earlham education involves values and character development as a part of this undergraduate experience. A key characteristic of the educational experience involves the creation of meaning in one’s life, and the cultivation of values, and of congruence between values and actions. This has long been a key dimension of the Earlham ethic and continues to be central today. Liberal education has, at its heart, in addition to everything else, the task of knowing oneself and using such self-understanding as a foundation for making choices in one’s life — not to mention working more effectively to improve the world.
Earlham is indeed a remarkable setting for what many students characterize as a transforming experience. A liberal arts background is more than being able to show off a collection of facts. It expects understanding, flexibility, adaptability and appreciation. Earlham graduates will, we are confident, have a powerful influence upon the society in which they live.
Earlham’s Approach to Academic Integrity
The College trusts students at Earlham to be honest seekers of truth and knowledge. This trust is extended to all students by other students and teachers, and is evidenced in a variety of forms. Exams are rarely proctored. Unlike many colleges and universities, Earlham does not ask students to sign an oath affirming that they did not cheat on an assignment, since this would imply that people are either inherently dishonest, or that they will be honest only when they explicitly swear to it.
Students must be mindful that, although Earlham encourages cooperative and collaborative modes of learning, one’s work must still be one’s own, unless explicitly assigned to a group. Giving or receiving aid inappropriately on assignments and tests, or plagiarizing by using another person’s words or ideas as one’s own, without credit, constitutes a serious breach of our trust in one another.
Those who believe they have witnessed violations of academic integrity should feel the obligation to speak about this to the student(s). The witness should also feel obligated to report the student(s) to the instructor if the person refuses to report him or herself.
Students should carefully read the syllabus they receive for each course to fully understand each professor’s expectations about the appropriate use of materials and about working on assignments with other students.
Violations of academic integrity are taken very seriously because they undermine our trust in one another and the credibility of the academic enterprise. Penalties for violations range from failing assignments or tests to suspension or expulsion from the College. Students who are suspended as a result of an academic violation may not transfer academic credits to Earlham during the suspension.
At matriculation, every student is assigned an academic adviser who will help the student plan his or her course of study while at Earlham. It should be noted that while academic advisers assist students in this way, the responsibility for meeting all graduation requirements rests finally with the student. Once a student is ready to declare a major, he or she should arrange to have an academic adviser within that field or department. Forms for changing academic advisers are available from the Registrar's Office. Students and advisers receive an Academic Audit at the beginning of each academic year, outlining outstanding General Education and credit requirements for degree completion.
At matriculation, every student is assigned an academic adviser who will assist in planning a course of study while at Earlham. It should be noted that while academic advisers guide students in this way, the responsibility for meeting all graduation requirements rests finally with the student. Once a student is ready to declare a major, he or she should arrange to have an academic adviser within that department or program. Forms for changing academic advisers are available from the Registrar’s Office. Students and advisers receive an Academic Audit at the beginning of each academic semester, outlining outstanding General Education and credit requirements on self-service.
Changing Academic Advisers
Students can change academic advisers when they have decided upon a major or determine a faculty member with whom they are excited to work as they advance through their academic career.
Academic Mediation: Appealing a Grade
Students may appeal grades and evaluations on procedural grounds. That is, they may question whether the grade was awarded fairly, according to clear standards, and in a manner consistent with Earlham’s stated practices. An appeal should begin with a conversation between student and instructor. If this discussion leads to no conclusion, the student, possibly along with her or his adviser, should contact the Associate Academic Dean or Registrar who may advise the student on the merits of the case and shall, at the request of the student, mediate between student and instructor. This may occur in a meeting among all parties or in separate meetings of the Associate Academic Dean or Registrar with each party.
If this mediation does not lead to a result agreeable to the parties, either or both may request a mediation hearing before an ad hoc Academic Mediation Board. The Associate Academic Dean, Registrar (or her/his designee) shall convene a board, comprised of two faculty members and two students who may be selected from the Conduct Council Faculty and Student Pools. Either the student appellant or the faculty member under appeal may reject nominations to the Board. Board hearings shall be recorded during the presentation and discussion of evidence with all parties present. The Board will meet in executive session for deliberation.
The Board will review the documents of the case and listen to both parties. It will then meet by itself and frame a recommendation. The Board shall consider itself charged to act equitably and in the interest of both parties as it seeks to determine if grading procedures were somehow faulty and if a remedy is feasible. By Earlham’s bylaws, grading is in the province of the Faculty, and a Board’s recommendation may not infringe on the academic freedom of the instructor.
If the Board finds itself unable to reach a consensus, or if either party is unwilling to accept the recommendation of the Board or the other party’s response to it, then the Associate Academic Dean or Registrar shall consult with the Academic Dean and Clerk of the Faculty to devise a way forward.
Working Toward Success at Earlham
Earlham College enters into a relationship with each student with the conviction that the College provides the best environment for pursuing life goals.
Strategies for Enhancing Student Success
Early Alert: The Vice President of Student Life oversees the Early Alert team. The Early Alert group coordinates College intervention efforts for those students who might benefit from specific College resources as they seek success at Earlham. Such identification may come through contacts with College personnel (faculty, academic advisers, residence life staff, coaches, etc.), student peers (friends, roommates, teammates), through others at the College, or through concerned family members. In each case, an effort is made to utilize College resources and to engage with students as fully as possible as they work toward success at Earlham. All members of Early Alert can be reached by sending an email outlining the concern to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Writing Center supports students and faculty with every aspect of writing across the curriculum. Regardless of the type of writing task, whether it’s an Earlham Seminar exploratory essay, a science lab report or a senior thesis, the Writing Center offers a comfortable space where student writers of all levels of experience can discover ways to improve their writing. Not just for those struggling with a problematic paper, the Writing Center is a place to come for clarifying and polishing techniques that make your writing really shine.
Peer writing consultants are available Sunday through Thursday evenings on the lower level of Lilly Library to help students at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming about a topic and refining a thesis statement to organizing and editing a final draft. You can simply drop in or you can sign up for an appointment on the Writing Center website.
The Writing Center website continues to expand its online help with tips for revising as well as links to resources on grammar and research issues. In addition, the Writing Center offers faculty workshops and forums on approaches to teaching and assessing writing. Faculty may also request a writing consultant to visit classes to present various brainstorming or peer review techniques.
Some Common Misconceptions about Writing Consultants
Writing consultants are just proofreaders.
Not exactly. Consultants improve writers, not just papers.
Consulting sessions take a lot of time.
Not at all. One or two 30-minute sessions with a writing consultant can save you time worrying about where to start and help you write more efficiently.
My paper has to be finished before I can get help.
You can drop in to the center even without an appointment, though we strongly encourage you to sign up in advance. Consultants can help you at any point in the writing process, from brainstorming and organizing your ideas through the final draft.
Tutoring is for poor writers only.
Nonsense. The most skilled writers share their drafts with other writers and revise according to the feedback they receive. Discussing a paper with an experienced peer is a great way to make sure your writing communicates your ideas clearly.
For more details, including locations and times the Writing Center is open, please visit the Writing Center website or contact the Writing Center.
Academic Enrichment Center
The Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) aids students with their learning through peer-to-peer tutoring. Peer tutors integrate study strategies into their tutoring sessions to encourage students to become more effective independent learners. Peer tutors are available for one-on-one tutoring sessions or for pre-arranged group sessions. Peer tutoring is a free service for Earlham College students.
Students who want to discover their learning style and working habits or who want to explore why they are experiencing some learning challenges may make an appointment with the AEC director. The director also assists students with study skills and time management.
The Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) is also the College’s disability services office, with the Director serving as the 504 Coordinator for students with disabilities. While the College does not provide a comprehensive disability program, it is committed to equal opportunities to students with disabilities through a supportive academic and social environment. Faculty and students work together in partnership to determine students’ needs and attempt to see that those needs are met.
AEC coordinates the delivery of accommodations for students with disabilities. The Center manages the documentation of disabilities, processing accommodation requests, and the hiring of note-takers and other persons or services as needed. Students can initiate the accommodation process by submitting Earlham’s Disability Disclosure Form.
Academic accommodations and auxiliary aids may include (but are not limited to):
- providing note-takers and computer assistance
- assistance in obtaining books on tape
- extended time for exams and quizzes and/or assistance via computer technology
- a testing environment with limited distractions
- the substitution of appropriate courses for the second language requirement.
Technological assistance available from the Academic Enrichment Center includes:
- Kurzweil 1000 and 3000: scan/read software
- Limited Braille text with Duxbury Software and Braille embosser
- Tactile Image Enhancer
- Key to Access: technology for written expression
- Livescribe Pen: technology for note-taking
For a full description of Earlham’s policy on accommodation for students with disabilities,
see www.earlham.edu/academic-enrichment-center for details.
Students should contact the AEC director to obtain disability status,
to request disability accommodations or to initiate a grievance.