STUDENT HANDBOOK: Academics and Field Work Term
Critical to Bennington’s educational philosophy is the principle of active learning. Attendance and engagement in the classroom, under the guidance of Bennington faculty, are therefore essential components of the learning that takes place at the College. Consistent and attentive class attendance is simply required for the successful completion of coursework here. Missing classes, for any reason, can fundamentally alter the nature of courses at Bennington. Course instructors set their own attendance policies reflective of the college’s policy that students should not earn credit for courses in which they’ve exceeded the equivalent of two weeks of absences. Course attendance policies note the number of absences permitted before impacting a student's ability to meet course objectives, and therefore impacting their course evaluation and grade, within the general expectation that attendance in class is mandatory. The policies are reflective of the importance of being present in class as a participant in discussion, in hands-on experiences, in performances and rehearsals, and other interactive content, which cannot be duplicated outside of the classroom.
As a result, students may fail a course if they do not attend the required number of class sessions set by the instructor, regardless of the reason for the absence. Students who begin a class late (by adding the class after it has begun) are generally considered absent for the classes they missed. In addition, students who miss two weeks of classes for any reason (including personal and family emergencies) are normally not able to meet course objectives, and therefore may not be able to pass the course. In this case, the student may be required to stop attending the course. Depending on the circumstances, a student may be permitted to withdraw from the course after the withdrawal deadline.
In the event that a student must miss a class, the student should notify the instructor in advance and continue to monitor the total number of absences accrued to ensure that they do not exceed the maximum number of absences stated in the course attendance policy. Missing class for any reason does not exempt a student from completing work for that class.
If an extended absence is anticipated or there is a personal emergency, the student must also notify a member of Academic Services, who will coordinate communication between the instructors, student, and the faculty advisor as appropriate.
The College does not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences and Health Services staff does not give medical excuses for missed classes. For those rare cases when students are unable to contact their advisor due to incapacitation, medical emergencies, or hospitalization, Health Services staff will make a member of Academic Services aware of the student’s absence and the projected date when the student will return to class in order to facilitate communication with the faculty and provide appropriate support for the student. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate a conference with the instructor to discuss making up missed work and to make up work to the instructor’s satisfaction.
A student who has been hospitalized must contact the Director of Health Services or the Director of Psychological Services, prior to the student’s anticipated return to the College. The student must provide documentation from their attending physician stating that they are capable of independently managing their own health and safety, full-time academic work, and daily living needs, including personal care and nourishment, as is the expectation for all students. Students are not permitted back on campus without this documentation. The Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Psychological Services will consult with the Office of the Provost as appropriate to the circumstances
Please note: the class attendance policy described above applies to synchronous (online and in-person) as well as hybrid courses, not courses that are entirely asynchronous. Students in asynchronous courses should consult their course syllabi to determine the faculty member's expectation for class participation and to identify the ways in which engagement and progress will be assessed.