Students are thus required to attend both lectures and discussion sections. Sign-in sheets will be distributed at both lectures and discussions. Students are responsible for remembering to sign-in on the sheets. While I encourage students to take as much advantage as possible of Middlebury’s extracurricular activities, students are reminded that they are here as students first and athletes, activists, artists, &c., second.
The consequences for missing lectures are different than they are for missing discussion sections. After they miss a lecture, students are required to contact me to explain the reason(s) why. In almost all cases, this will be sufficient to offset the absence. (Again: even if you skipped only because you don’t find the lectures useful; I would like to hear that—perhaps along with some suggestions for improvement!)
Discussion sections are another matter. Attendance is naturally a prerequisite of participation. I believe strongly in the power of discussion as a pedagogical vehicle; and students should know that I think a considerable amount of independent work would be required to compensate for missed discussions. As a result, those who are considering missing a discussion section are encouraged to consult with me about suitable makeup work before they do so. Those who fall victim to debilitating illness must contact me as soon as they are able to arrange suitable substitute work.
Much of the success of this course turns on students’ discussion of the assigned readings. This is largely because the course is designed as a seminar and, as such, requires the active participation of all of its members. As such, informed, vigorous analysis of the readings comprises a significant portion of the course requirements. Arriving on-time, prepared to discuss the readings is a necessary (but insufficient) component of such participation.
I recognize that some students hesitate to speak up during discussions; and I acknowledge that contributions to public discussion do not always need to be submitted orally. Those students who wish to take this course but who prefer not to speak in class will have the option—after consulting with me—to complete written discussion papers with which to earn good marks for their “participation” grade. These papers (300 words each) must be submitted to me at least 24 hours prior to the discussion. (I might then forward these analyzes to the entire discussion group.) Just as with oral discussion comments, summary should only be used in the service of critical analysis and argumentation. Students pursuing this option are still expected to attend every discussion.
In addition to the in-class activities, students are also expected to make contributions via the online Collaboration pages. Students are required to make at least one post (of at least 75 words each) each week. A post can be a response to the reading questions, a reaction to earlier discussions, or a link (with substantive exposition) to “real world” applications. This post must be made prior to 12 PM each Monday. This will give all of the students (and me!) the chance to review these contributions prior to class.
Students, of course, are invited to post well more than just once each. (If past experience is any indication, these discussions will quickly take on a life of their own!) But these requirements will ensure that everyone posts at least once each week.