Class Policy: Student Attendance

Whenever I sit down to develop a course syllabus, I am faced again with the question of how to handle student attendance in the course grading schema and what kinds of attendance policies to adopt. Philosophy courses, in particular, are often discussion dependent classes, and therefore student attendance and participation is vital. But should attendance be an explicit component of the grading schema for the course? I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, student attendance is important and it is attractive to incentivize student attendance by factoring it into course grading. At the same time, though, taking attendance during each class period is tedious and wastes class time. Additionally, taking attendance for the purposes of assigning students a grade risks increasing the […]


Class Policy: Submitting assignments online

The thought of trying to collect and organize student’s assignments via email has discouraged me from accepting class assignments electronically, and certainly from making it a policy to turn all assignments in online. Thus far, my policy has been to only accept and grade hard copy assignments. The downsides of only grading hard copy assignments, though, are: 1. Piles of papers laying around my office 2. Piles of papers I have to cart back and forth to class 3. Class time is used to return the assignments 4. Expends environmental resources 5. Costs money for students/the university to print assignments 6. There is only one record of handwritten comments after grading While teaching a college healthcare ethics course this past summer, I resolved to have […]


What does a successful class look like for me?

Of course a successful class session will vary with respect to the objectives for any given class session. However, here are some general things that I am on the lookout for to determine whether a class session is successful: Students ask questions about the reading assignment or an aspect of the lecture Students indicate that something that was previously unclear is now clearer Students begin to make connections between discussions in this class and what they are learning in another class or otherwise with an aspect of their life more generally Students begin to respectfully engage one another and respond to each other’s comments during class discussions Students show evidence of sustained reflection on issues and questions in the course Students indicate some level of […]


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