Teaching and Advising

1. Teaching Load. Amherst tries to keep the teaching load at a level that permits the faculty to devote considerable time outside of class to students and to scholarly or creative work. Generally, faculty teach two courses each semester. Departments have historically adapted this norm to their individual circumstances. faculty are encouraged to teach outside their own departments through participation in interdisciplinary and interdepartmental courses and seminars.

2. Teaching Evaluations of Tenured Faculty Members.  On behalf of the faculty, written evaluations will be solicited from students in each course taught by a tenured faculty member. These responses will remain anonymous. Students will not be able to submit a response after they have seen their final grades for the course; faculty members will not be able to see the responses until after final grades have been submitted. An automated system of response solicitation will direct students to an online evaluation form that offers a default template of questions (periodically reviewed by the Committee on Educational Policy) that will be customizable by each member of the faculty. All student comments will remain confidential, will be at the complete disposal of, and will be accessible only by the faculty member for whom the evaluations have been solicited (voted by the faculty, May 2007; amended, November 2014, effective 2015-2016).

3. Avoidance of Conflict of Interest. Instructors should not teach their own children or other close relatives (such as a spouse or partner, grandchild, parent, guardian, grandparent, sibling, or a spouse, partner, or child of any of the foregoing) in a course for credit at Amherst College.  The potential conflict of interest could have negative effects on the student who is a relative of the instructor, as well as on the instructor’s relation to the other students in the same course.  In the rare instances in which such enrollment is unavoidable, the instructor should discuss the situation with the chair of the department and the dean of the faculty in advance of the course.  In no event should parents, guardians, or other relatives be grading their own child’s or other relative’s work; another instructor should evaluate the work and decide upon the grade (voted by the faculty, December 4, 2018).

4. Advising. All members of the regular faculty, except first-year faculty, participate in college advising for underclassmen and in advising students majoring in their departments.

5. College Advising. The dean of new students assigns all entering students to a member of the faculty who serves as that student's college advisor for his or her freshman and sophomore years whenever practicable. College advisors are responsible for discussing their advisees' programs of study with them, paying attention to the advising guidelines published annually in the Catalog. They are also asked to consult with their advisees' class deans, especially, but not only, if one of their advisees appears to be experiencing academic difficulty. A number of academic support services are available through the Office of Student Affairs.

6. Major Advising. All faculty members, except first-year faculty, have the responsibility for advising students majoring in their departments about general curricular matters, matters related to the major and senior honors work.