22 December 2010

Participation, Attendance, and All That

For traditional students, college is the beginning of professional life (non-traditional students have already been living professional lives). But whether it is one’s first time or not, in college one’s actions, words, attitudes, habits, and works construct tangible and lasting consequences.

Perhaps you have attended classes in which your presence and activity in the classroom is of secondary or tertiary importance, classes in which your final grade depended upon merely having notes from a professor's lecture, or having read the textbook, or test scores or projects tenuously connected to the classroom experience. This class is nothing like that. Because your instructor embraces the time- and data-tested concept and practice of process writing, you need to understand that writing and developing an independent intellect are closely connected. Further, students need to embrace the concept that the writing process is very much occurring in the classroom (See my handout “The Writing Process in the College Classroom” in my blog).

The reading and studying to do before class; the work you do in the classroom; the conversations you have with other students, instructors, and library educators; and the writing you do for paper assignment—these are all part of a single (albeit complex) activity of learning and pursuing your education (and you are pursuing that education; it will not pursue you!).

Therefore, these are my expectations for the class:
1) Students will arrive on time, prepared to begin class work. They will have their texts read, marked up, and OPEN. They will have a notebook (dedicated to this class) open with a pen or pencil ready.
2) Students will take notes throughout the class, asking for the instructor or other students to repeat what they have said if necessary. The bound notebook should be dedicated to this class.
3) Students will attend each class from beginning to end. You are allowed three absences (not counting edit days) with no penalty. I will not presume to deem whether your absence is “excused” or not. After three absences, your final grade will be lowered. Excessive absences may results in your being asked to withdraw from the class. Plan ahead: unless it is an emergency, do not leave the classroom during class.
4) Students who miss class should arrange with other students to share notes, hand in assignments, and report any new assignments. Students understand that they are responsible for all work assigned or performed in their absence.
5) Students who may be forced to miss more than three classes due to their athletic schedule should arrange alternative duties within the first two weeks of the semester.
6) Students will arrange a meeting with the professor at least once during the first six weeks of the course to review their progress in the class. They will bring in a filled-out participation self-evaluation for discussion.

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