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For New Instructors

Guidelines for New Instructors

Our courses are taught by faculty members with many years of experience teaching graduate students like those in our program as well as by highly-qualified industry practitioners, valued for their theoretical and practical knowledge of the material. These courses have an excellent reputation: not only are they taken by our masters' students but also by doctoral students in mathematics, computer science, economics, engineering, physics, statistics, and other fields. Our program was recently ranked in the top ten nationally, a group which includes Carnegie-Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Princeton, and Stanford. Tuition for our program is high relative to other graduate programs at Rutgers. Therefore student expectations are justifiably also high and so we ask you to please review the following guidelines carefully. Naturally, if you have any questions, please ask as we are glad to offer advice or assistance.

 Class Policies

Academic integrity

Our program places a very strong emphasis on academic integrity. Our academic integrity code explains our view and contains links to the University policy. We cannot emphasize enough how important this issue is for everyone: students, instructors, employers, and our department. Please carefully read our guidelines on how to prevent academic dishonesty before your class commences. Please take the time to explain the main points to our students on the first day of class and at other key times during the semester (such as prior to exams or assignment of class projects). Serious incidents have occurred in the past and it is far better for all concerned to prevent them from happening.

Incomplete grades

The Graduate School-New Brunswick has a policy on incomplete (IN) grades. We advise instructors to adopt a stricter policy due to our experience with abuse of incomplete grades and recommend that you only give these grades in genuine emergencies. Underperforming students occasionally remain enrolled after the deadline to withdraw with a W grade and later attempt to pressure an instructor to given them an incomplete grade, often just before or even after the final exam. Please do not provide incomplete grades in these circumstances, as they undermine exam integrity, circumvent deadlines for official withdrawal, and are unfair to students who withdrew by the deadline and lost some or all of their tuition as a consequence. Instead, seek to eliminate these situations by advising students in difficulty earlier in the semester.


Administrative Matters for Part-time Lecturers

Offer letters and payroll

All part-time lecturers and their graders and course assistants should have received a formal offer letter describing our compensation offer and their responsibilities. Please be sure that you have accepted to ensure that you will be paid on time. You will need to complete an I-9 and other forms to place you on payroll: this process is handled by Lynn Braun, with the help of our Program Administrator.

NetID and RCI and math email addresses

Please be sure to set up your RCI email address. Your chosen "NetID" (whatever precedes @rci.rutgers.edu) and associated password (not the password associated with your math email address, though you can choose the same one if you wish) authenticates your access to Rutgers secure e-services, including class rosters, Sakai, our software portal, and our library. Please contact Risa Hynes to obtain your math email address and if you have any questions about how to obtain your NetID and RCI email address.

RUID

You are eligible to obtain a Rutgers ID card (required to check out books, use the gym, etc). Please contactour Program Administrator for instructions on how to obtain your RUID.

Contact information

Please be sure that you have provided our Program Administrator with your other email addresses (personal and work) and phone numbers (home, work, mobile).

Department of Mathematics information page

Please visit the Mathematics Departmental Handbook for additional information commonly requested by new instructors.

Class Administration

Class notification of delays or cancellations

If you cannot avoid being late for a class (which means any time after the scheduled start) or have to cancel class, it is critical that the class be notified immediately. If cancellation occurs before the class day, all students and any course assistants should be emailed (using the Sakai Mail or Announce tools or a RAMS class emailing list if you do not use Sakai) and the Program Administrator notified by phone or email and asked to place a cancellation notice on the classroom door. Remember that if you do not immediately receive a copy of your class announcement, then neither did the students. Always select "high priority" when creating announcements to ensure they are emailed as well as posted on Sakai. If the cancellation occurs on the day of the class or you will be delayed, you cannot rely on email alone to notify the students. If the class is held during the evening, be aware that business hours in the Department of Mathematics are 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM, so a staff member will not be available to assist after 4:30 PM. You should have exchanged mobile phone numbers with your course assistants before the start of the semester, so you can ask them to be present in the class until you arrive, if just delayed, or announce a cancellation. If your course assistant also commutes or does not normally attend class, you should consider exchanging mobile phone numbers with a responsible student who is enrolled in the class. (Our office can assist in selecting such a student.) If a class is canceled or significantly interrupted, you must arrange to make up the class meeting.

Sakai course management system

Students and most instructors and their teaching assistances find Sakai to be a very convenient way to distribute class materials and syllabus; homework assignments, grades, and solutions; exam grades and solutions; class announcements; and end-of-semester instructor evaluations. Sakai is simple for instructors or their assistants to set up and maintain, requires no knowledge of html, and can be edited and updated using any web browser. We strongly encourage adoption of Sakai by all instructors teaching courses in our program.

Class meeting times

Evening classes are normally scheduled to meet 6:40-9:30 PM. Plan to be in the classroom ten minutes before class and twenty minutes before class if you need to set up any technology. Allow extra commuting time on your first day. Double check your class meeting time and location as listed on the university's Schedule of Classes and our Office Hour Page and consult our travel directions page if needed.

Do not end class early. One ten minute break during a 2 hour, 50 minute class is standard, though two shorter breaks, between five and ten minutes, may be more practical. If you are a part-time lecturer, with limited on-campus office hours, students will be even more inclined than usual to use the breaks or period before class to ask questions but please do not lengthen the breaks or delay the class start to try to accommodate them at those times.

Enhanced classroom facilities

Our courses are normally scheduled to meet in enhanced classrooms containing a data port for laptop connection, a data projector, and screen. Some, but not all, rooms also have a sound system and wireless microphone and a desktop computer. If any technical issues arise on during your class, enhanced classroom support staff are available on call until 10:00PM.

Software

Licensed software commonly used by our instructors is available for download from Rutgers' software portal, including Mathematica, MATLAB (plus all toolboxes), Office, Visual Studio, and others. If you need CDs or DVDs to install some programs (such as MATLAB), please contact us.

On-campus office hours

Regular faculty members normally schedule at least three office hours per week. Remember that many of our students work part or full time, so try to schedule office hours at a time working students have some chance of being able to attend. Please be aware of our typical program course meeting times when scheduling your office hours and try to stagger them, if necessary, to avoid a conflict. Office hours for most courses taken by our students and contact information for instructors and assistants are posted on our website. Students should be notified of any office hour changes or cancellations, just as they would with class cancellations.

Off-campus office hours

If their commute does not permit another solution, part-time lecturers typically schedule an office hour just before class, either in the part-time lecturers' office (Hill 611) in the Hill Center (ask the Program Administrator for a key) or a classroom. Part-time lecturers with limited on-campus office hours should be prepared to try and answer more questions than usual by email or phone. You may also wish to consider scheduling weekly Skype conference calls or online chat sessions.

Syllabus, grading policy, and class attendance

As we recommend that students prepare for each class in advance and understand the overall structure of the course, please provide a written syllabus at the beginning of the semester, and advise students of our MSMF Class Policies. Your syllabus must include the midterm date as well as a date range for the final exam. Also provide a written grading scheme and class attendance policy. We recommend the following grading schemes:

Core courses
  • 5% attendance. Use a Excel spreadsheet roster to develop a sign-in sheet and periodically check by calling names to prevent students from signing in on behalf of their friends.
  • 10% homework. Regardless of our warnings, students will copy homework from fellow students or from previous years' solutions. Rather than issue warnings to students to not copy homework solutions from other sources (generally futile), emphasize to students that homework will have little material impact on their final grade and urge your graders and assistants to provide detailed feedback but grade leniently.
  • 40% midterm exams (two 80 minute exams, in class).
  • 45% final exam (3 hours, in class).
Elective courses
  • 5% attendance. Use a Excel spreadsheet roster to develop a sign-in sheet and periodically check by calling names to prevent students from signing in on behalf of their friends.
  • 15% homework. Assignments for electives may vary more from year to year, so more weight can be given.
  • 40% midterm exams (two 80 minute exams, in class).
  • 40% final project (3 hours, in class).
Math 621 provides a sample core course web page and Math 623 provides a sample elective course web page. Please contact us if you would like your static (public) course web page updated; course web pages are available at our degree program page.

Library reserve textbooks

Check that the library has all recommended and required textbooks on reserve in the Hill Center Mathematics library. If the library does not have a copy of the text, contact the librarian or our Program Administrator and request that copies be ordered for placement on 24-hour reserve.

Class rosters

The definive class roster is available from the Registrar and is best used for downloading Excel spreadsheets of enrolled students, student photos, and grade submission. You may also use Sakai for these purposes, though it is not as authoritative.

Exams and final projects

Please consult the Program Administrator when scheduling midterm exams, final exams, and final project submission deadlines before announcing them to your class. We prefer to see the first midterms scheduled within a two-week window (but not all in the same week) ending one week prior to the deadline to withdraw with a W grade while final exams and project submission deadlines should be scheduled according to the university's academic calendar.

Midterm exam

Announce the midterm exam date during the first week of class. The midterm exam should be in-class. Plan to return results, including both numerical scores and corresponding letter grades, and solutions to students within one week of the exam date and at least two business days before the deadline to withdraw with a W grade. This is to provide students who are likely to receive a poor grade with an opportunity to withdraw. The Graduate School-New Brunswick does not permit master's students to count more than three C or C+ grades towards their degree, so students with these midterm grades should receive a warning; D grades are not permitted by the Graduate School-New Brunswick.

Exam creation and duplication

Ask your course assistant or a colleague to proofread your exam, as well as provide another perspective on its length and appropriateness for your class. According to one common rule of thumb, an in-class exam should be completed by the instructor in a quarter or at most a third of the time allotted to the students. Complete your exam solution before requesting that it be duplicated to check for length and any errors or ambiguities. Our Program Administrator can arrange to have the exam duplicated and also provide packets of exam "blue books" for the students' use in the exam room, but please give her at least two business days notice.

Exam security

We strongly recommend that you use randomly assigned seating for all exams to discourage cheating. This can be easily done by numbering the desks and assigning students their desks with the aid of a randomized class roster. Request the assistance of your course assistant in proctoring the exam. Do not reuse an exam from a previous year without making very significant changes.

Final exam scheduling

Confirm the tentative exam time suggested by the master schedule with our Program Administrator before announcing the time with your class. This is to ensure that a night exam is not followed by an early morning exam on the next day and that there are no other conflicts. The final exam date and time should be announced to the class no later than the week after the midterm exam.

Final projects

These should be assigned no later than the seventh week of the semester (fourteen weeks including the reading period) and due on the date of the final exam they replace.

Course grades

These should be submitted electronically and must be submitted by the Registrar's deadline. Students who were likely to receive an F should have been advised to withdraw, while students likely to obtain a C or C+ grade should have received adequate warning after the midterm. Grades in Math 16:642:621-622 typically have the following distribution, although this should not be interpreted as a recommendation for other courses: 40% A, 15% B+, 30% B, 10% C+, and 5% C. Grade distributions in elective courses are usually more generous than those in required courses.

Homework

Homework assignments

Problem sets should be assigned weekly, or at least biweekly, and if the class is computational in nature, they should provide an opportunity to practice use of software or programs customary for the subject (C++, MATLAB, R, and so on). Please solicit feedback on your problem sets from your students and course assistants and ensure that assignments cover the required topics and are not excessively lengthy or difficult.

Homework grading and solutions

Course assistants should grade and return homework assignments and post solutions to your homework assignments within one week of the assignment due date. Review solutions developed by your course assistants.

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Contact Us

HillCenter

Mathematical Finance Master's Program

Department of Mathematics, Hill 348
Hill Center for Mathematical Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
110 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019

Email: finmath (at) rci.rutgers.edu
Phone: +1.848.445.3920
Fax: +1.732.445.5530