Grading Policy

In class, we discussed some of the difficulties associated with grading: first, different people have different styles of learning, and, second, getting a good grade (rather than really engaging with the material) can become the aim of the course. Some people requested that there be very fixed structure, others requested something more fluid; some people wanted to write more, others wanted a more conversation-centered approach.

Luckily, everyone agreed that it wasn’t unfair to have multiple standards within the class — that is, a standard for those who wanted to write more, and another for those who wanted to find other ways to understand and explore the ideas.

In response to this discussion, I’m proposing a “multi-track” grading system. I’ll lay out a few different options for the course (“tracks”), and students will have to decide by Monday, January 27, which track they want to take.

Here are the tracks I’ve come up with:

Track 1 – The Participation-centered Track.

  • Attendance: students on this track must attend all classes (though they are allowed 3 personal/sick days). For each absent day beyond the 3 allowed sick/personal days, student’s grade will drop one letter.
  • Study Guides: students on this track must satisfactorily complete all study guide questions that are assigned by the date they are due. If a student does not complete them, then they lose a letter grade for each incomplete study guide. If they are not completed satisfactorily (i.e., it is clear the student hasn’t read or engaged with the text), I will ask for them to be re-written. Study guides will be given out every 2 or 3 weeks.
  • Weekly Discussion questions: students on this track are responsible for writing and asking one discussion question per week. This can be either posted on the website (make sure your name is signed to your post!) or brought to class on a sheet of paper. Missing 2 weekly discussion questions results in dropping of a letter grade.
  • Project: students on this track will be responsible for one project, to be decided upon and planned with the instructor. Basically, we will get together and try to come up with a way to explore the course topics in a method that suits your interests and talents. If you are interested in taking this track, we should begin discussions of a project sooner rather than later.

Track 2 – The Writing-centered Track

  • Study Guides: students on this track must satisfactorily complete all study guide questions that are assigned by the date they are due. If a student does not complete them, then they lose a letter grade for each incomplete study guide. If they are not completed satisfactorily (i.e., it is clear the student hasn’t read or engaged with the text), I will ask for them to be re-written. Study guides will be given out every 2 or 3 weeks.
  • 2 Short Essays: There will be two short essay assignments (4-5 pages), which will draw on the study guide material. The first will be around mid February and the second will be late March/early April. If they are not satisfactory, then you will be asked to rewrite or revise them.
  • 1 Longer Essay: There will be one longer essay assignment (6-8 pages), which may be a development of one of your shorter essays, or may be on a separate topic that we have discussed.

 

 

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