Class Policy: Absent, late...

Policies: Attendance, WebTalk, Reading Essay and Book Reviews

There are can be many reasons why you may not meet the class requirements listed in the syllabus: religious holidays, problems with your home computer, sickness, family emergencies, overwhelming assignments form other classes, need to help your friends, demands from romance, and so on.  I expect you to consider seriously your commitment to the class and do you best to meet the class requirements.  However, I believe that meeting class requirements may not always be possible.  I respect your judgment and decision making even if I may disagree with it.

When you violate class requirements, you often put some stress on our class community. So I expect you to do some community work in exchange for us accepting your violation and dealing with the stress (exchange of favors).

Here is what I expect form you to do when you violate class requirements.  By fulfilling these expectations you making good stand in the class (i.e., requirements for "A" in this class).

Attendance. I'm taking attendance roll.  If you didn't attend a class meeting because of special circumstances, you should post either a) a 1-2 single page thought paper on the WebTalk on the weekly topic, see the syllabus for the list of topics (in addition to required 2 minimum weekly web postings) or b) find a relevant and interesting website, summarize how and why it is interesting and relevant, and post it on the Webtalk, or c) wrap-up and analyze weekly reading essays or mini-projects for the week you missed the class on the WebTalk. 

Postings on the WebTalk. If you didn't post at least 2 weekly messages on the WebTalk, you should post these messages later plus one more posting in addition to next week postings.

Reading Essays. If you post a late reading essay, you should summarize (wrap up) the posted papers of the other students (common threads, controversial points, disagreements, interesting examples in their writing) for this week on the webtalk (1-2 single-spaced pages) in addition to you minimum weekly web posting.

Finally, there are four notes:

  1. If the violation of requirements occurs because of technical problems with the web, I'll make adjustments in the requirements.  However, please, make creative efforts to inform me about the problem and to send me your assignment on time via another channels (e.g., email, paper).
  2. It may be beneficial to inform me about your special circumstances and expected/occurred violations of class requirements as early as possible via email or phone call.
  3. Your special circumstances may be at such scope that class requirements may not work for you and may not be beneficial for your learning.  If you feel that it may be the case, please, contact me for adjustment of requirements as soon as possible via email or phone call.
  4. The policy may be amended with emerging new concerns and problems in our class community. Please, check this page when you have a question or a concern and then contact to me if you can't find the answer.

Concerns: Pros and cons of having a policy
I have several concerns regarding both having a class policy regarding breaking class requirements and expectations and not having such policy.  My concerns stemming from my primary desire to facilitate and to protect your learning and my secondary desire to avoid being burnout and overwhelmed.

Pros of having a policy:

  1. Some students can fall through cracks when there are no consequences of their violation of the class requirements.  It can occur because of many reasons including the students: being overwhelmed with many other classes and their strict requirements, being raised in educational institutions that do not promote responsibility for students' own learning, not knowing how to get support and guidance, and so on.
  2. Class requirements promote students' engagement in learning activities and each other's learning.
  3. Class requirements create a class common focus than otherwise would be dissipated.
  4. Violation of class requirements can often create additional work for the instructor.

Cons of having a policy:

  1. All the requirements and deadlines are more or less arbitrary (e.g., why the deadline is on Friday and not Saturday).
  2. There can be emergencies and more important priorities in your lives that force to violate the class requirements. Sometimes following the requirements is not in the best students' interests.
  3. Students themselves are the highest authority for their own learning.
  4. Students' failing class requirements and expectations and experiencing their consequences can be itself important learning. Having a policy against violations of class requirements can rob students from experimentation with it and experiencing consequences of the violations.  Finally, it can inhibit students' ownership for their own learning.
  5. Often when class requirements are violated, the instructor asks the student to do more learning activity to both compensate some losses in student's learning and to discourage the student from further violation of the class requirements.  Such "punishment by learning" may send a wrong signal to the student that learning is torture and not fun.
  6. The policies can promote adversarial relations between the instructor and the student and diminish students' trust in the instructor.

Philosophy: Exchange of favors

Taking into consideration of all the concerns, I have come to a conclusion that the class still needs some policy of what I expect you to do when the class requirements are violated.  The policy is based on the following philosophical assumptions:

  1. It is the student who makes a decision about the appropriateness of violation of the class requirements.  Thus, by making this decision, the student is taking full responsibility for its consequences for his or her own learning. However, you are welcome to consult with me your circumstances and decision.
  2. By violating the class requirements (deliberately or non-deliberately, "rightly" or "wrongly"), the student is often putting additional stress on him/herself, the rest classmates, and the instructor.
  3. Our class and the student violating class requirements can be educationally benefit from additional work that he or she can provide for the class.
  4. Student's violation of class requirements should follow exchange of favors between the instructor and the student: the instructor accepts the violation as legitimate and the student does not only fulfil the requirement after the violation as much as possible but also in addition does work beneficial for the entire class.
  5. The instructor welcomes raising new concerns regarding the policy by students and further discussion of possible solutions.