FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do you have any resources for improving our study skills?
Yes, please check the Teaching and Learning Strategies section of the website. Also, I usually teach about learning strategies in all my courses. Sometimes, I even give workshops. So, if you want to learn more about study skills, writing, academic reading, note-taking, exam-taking skills, etc., you can also come to see me in my office during my office hours. If I see that many of you are interested, I can offer workshops or seminars on any of these topics.
Are there any rules on class behaviour?
Yes, here are the rules.
1) You must treat your colleagues, the teacher, and any guest with utmost respect.
2) You must come to class.
3) You must prepare thoroughly for each session in accordance with the course outline and the teacher's instructions.
4) Study hard to master the basic concepts, theories, methods, and writing conventions.
5) When an activity involves working in small groups, you must work hard and not converse about topics unrelated to the activity.
6) Refrain from sleeping or daydreaming during class.
7) Refrain from reading or working on materials that are extraneous to the course.
8) Refrain from chatting with your classmates during a lecture or when classmates are delivering speeches.
9) Refrain from checking your cell phone during class.
10) Refrain from using your laptop computer for checking emails, Facebook, watching a movie, or any other activity that is extraneous to the course.
11) Always listen carefully, with an open mind, to the contributions of others.
12) Ask for clarification when you don't understand a point someone has made.
Why are examinations cumulative?
Because I firmly believe that learning has to be permanent and not just something done to get through a single examination.
What is your view on evaluations?
I conceive evaluations as a tool to help you learn, not just to rate and rank your efforts.
Will all the questions in the test be taken from the test bank? Or will you include questions that are not in the test bank?
Approximately 50% of the questions will be from the test bank and I will create the other half of the questions.
I contributed a question to the test bank, but you did not include it.
Yes, that is possible. The reason may be that other students contributed similar questions or that your question does not deal with a topic or an angle of a topic that we discussed enough in class. Sometimes, I receive too many questions, so I have to choose some as I don't want the test bank to be too long.
I contributed a question to the test bank but you changed it. Why?
I may change it a little bit, but only with respect to language or a non essential aspect. I never change the substance of a question.
Will there be a test bank for the final take-home evaluation?
No. The test bank is only for in-class tests.
I missed the class where you returned the tests. Can you email me my grade?
I do not email grades. I understand that you must be anxious and want to know your grade. But, please, come to my office during my office hours as soon as possible to get the test back and your grade. Your test has comments and feedback about your answers. These are much more useful for your learning process than a simple grade.
I can't come to class the day of the exam. Is there a make up?
The possibility of writing a make up test is restricted to those exceptional cases where a student cannot come to class for reasons beyond his or her control. This does not include sports competitions. In all cases, I have to approve the possibility of writing a make up test in advance, preferably by email. Questions in the make up test will be DIFFERENT from those asked in the regular test. The make up test may even contain more questions. Also, it takes me longer to mark and return make up tests written on a different day than the one assigned in the course outline. This is because I teach several courses each term. When I plan these courses, I tend to schedule tests -and papers- on different days. So, even if you write your make up test two or three days later than the originally scheduled day, I will probably have to grade tests or papers for another course. So, your make up test will be returned to you after I finish all papers or tests of that/those other course/s.
I wrote everything that is on my notes and the book. Why is my grade so low?
Your answer probably did not follow all the aspects outlined in the evaluation criteria. Your answer may have omitted to discuss what we actually analyzed in class. You may have failed to include your critical assessment.
A few classes before the first test, I always discuss the evaluation criteria in class so that you will know exactly what to expect from me when I mark your test. You can also read the complete evaluation criteria in the course outline.
Do you want us to discuss class activities in the tests, essays, and final evaluation? Why?
Yes, making reference to, discussing, and elaborating upon the class activities and class discussions are an essential aspect of the evaluation criteria. This is so because discussing comparing, and re-elaborating what we analyzed in class are essential academic skills which you need to acquire at the university level. You will be employing these skills in your future academic or professional endeavours. Simply providing information or analyzing a topic in a vacuum are not enough in today's world, particularly because information is very easily accessible. Being able to analyze, evaluate, and relate information is more important than simply regurgitating information.
I don't agree with the mark I received in my test. Can we go over the test together?
Of course. I will be very glad to go over the test with you. Please bring it to the next class or come see me in my office during my office hours.
English is not my first language, may I bring a bilingual dictionary to the test?
Yes. Oui. SI. DA. Ja. Sim. Naam
How can you give us a grade for class participation in this large class?
We will be doing many activities where you can actively participate every single class. The lectures are also interactive. So, despite the large number of students, there are plenty of opportunities to participate.
I don't like speaking in public. Will I have a low grade in this evaluation component?
Yes. You do need to actively participate in class. In today's world, speaking and communication skills are essential. You will need to give oral presentations and speak in public in virtually any professional or academic endeavour you embark on after you finish your university studies. So, the best way to acquire these skills is by practicing them in class. You need to get involved and positively participate in class. You will be evaluated for your class participation.
I did all the homework and other written assignments. I did not speak in class because I am shy. Why is my class participation grade so low?
The homework, reading quizzes, and other written assignments are primarily meant to help you participate in class and do the class activities. If you don't participate in class, i.e., you don't talk in class, if you don't ask questions, volunteer your opinion, and offer your analysis of the class activities to the whole class, you will not get a passing grade under the class participation evaluation component.
I am really very shy. Can I do something instead of participating in class?
I will create a very friendly atmosphere where every one will feel safe and comfortable to speak. I am unable to give you another alternative. If I did, it would not be fair to other students that participate in class. Many students also experience writer's block when they write an essay, but they do not ask for an alternative assignment. The same principle applies for class participation. If you are very shy and do not want to speak in class, you may want to consider dropping the course.
I missed a few classes. I read the notes from a friend and the chapters from the books. Will I have a problem in the midterm and with the portfolio?
If you missed several classes, you will be at a serious disadvantage and you may even risk not getting a passing grade.
I noticed that when we do the small-group activities, you don't walk around the groups, asking questions or checking progress. Why is that?
I think that this may be a little bit intimidating for some students, especially those that are shy. They tend to speak freely if the teacher is not walking and checking what they say. However, if you need to ask me a question, or discuss something with me, please raise your hand or call me, and I will be very happy to talk to your group.
I didn't attend class today. Did I miss something important? What did you talk about today?
Yes, you missed a unique, unrepeatable learning experience. You can find out what we discussed from the website or from a fellow student. But that will not recreate the unique experience where you would have had the opportunity to negotiate meanings, defend your positions, ask questions, listen to your colleagues, and engage in collaboratively learning.
How can listening to students arguing and answering each others' questions be beneficial for anyone? Why don't you lecture all the time?
Why don't you give us a grade for each class activity or for each homework or other written assignment?
Because I firmly believe that you learn by doing and even failing. So, I want to create a learning environment, where students encounter safe yet challenging conditions in which you can try, fail, receive feedback, and try again without facing a summative evaluation. But remember, if you do not participate in class and do the assignments, then you cannot expect a passing grade.
Is class attendance really mandatory? What can I do if I have other commitments during teaching hours?
Yes, it is mandatory. Because I will do everything possible to help you learn and develop your academic abilities. I can only do so if you come to class. So, you must decide if you want to engage in this experience. If you do decide to join this enterprise, there are some things that you must resolve to do to come to class and make it worthwhile for you and your classmates.
Why will students that do not come to class fail to get credit for the course?
The most important part of your learning process takes place in class. Class participation adds to your educational experience beyond and above what you can learn from just reading and writing in solitude. To come to university is to join a community of learners. An athlete who does not attend practices risks losing his or her place on the team. A musician or actor who does not attend rehearsals is usually not allowed to participate in the performance. Similarly, a student that does not come to class is not part of the class and does not deserve course credit.
I missed class. I have a doctor's note. Can I do the class activity that I missed?
You will not receive any credit if you do it. And I will NOT read the note if you give it to me. Please simply send me an email letting me know that you will miss class or that you have missed class. But, please bear in mind that the class activities are designed to encourage your learning process by interacting with your fellow students and with me. The reason for your absence is irrelevant. Whether you missed class because your doctor did not allow you to leave home or because you needed to finish a paper for another course is irrelevant. The important consequence is that you missed a unique learning experience and, as a result, you may not receive credit for it.
Are there any organization and style requirements for the essay?
Yes. Please click here to read about the required style and organization of the essay.
REVIEW FOR TESTS
Why don't you go over the scenarios in the review classes right before a test?
The purpose of the review classes is to give you an opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics which are not very clear to you after studying for the tests. I do not mind clarifying an obscure aspect of a scenario, but what I do not want to do is solve the scenarios myself. If I did this, you would not be applying the theoretical knowledge acquired in class to the problems, I would be doing it, and all you would be doing is memorizing my way of analyzing the scenarios.
What is your office-hours policy?
Please feel free to come see me during my office hours. I am available not only for class help, but also for other academic-related issues, such as writing letters of reference or helping with prospective graduate studies. I want to be available to answer questions and meet with all students. So, in addition to regular office hours and seeing me by appointment, I will every so often end class early, and invite students who have questions to meet with me right then and there.
I have sent you an email but you didn't reply.
During the academic year, I make it a point of answering all emails within 24 hours, except for weekends. If I haven't answered yours, chances are that I didn't get it. Please email me again.
During the summer, I carry out research abroad. So, please be patient if it takes me much longer to answer your email.
I did not get a passing grade/my grade is very low. Can I write an essay to get a passing grade/to get a higher grade?
During the regular term, I give plenty of opportunities for you to discuss what you can do to raise your grade. Depending on the circumstances, I sometimes even give opportunities to actually rewrite or make up an evaluation assignment. Once I give the final mark, it is too late. If I changed it for you, it would be unfair for all other students that worked hard during the term. Asking me to change it also means that you have not sat down with me to discuss what you needed to do to improve your grade during the term.
My grade is lower than I expected. Did I get a low grade in class participation?
As I mentioned in class, I take class participation very seriously. If you did not actively and positively participate in EVERY SINGLE CLASS, you cannot get a high grade for class participation. You need to make a positive contribution to every single class. You need to ask questions, volunteer to comment what was discussed in small groups, give examples, answer questions, and participate in all activities. Besides, your participation has to show that you have been doing the readings and have been reflecting about the topics we have covered in the course.
How do I get an A in this class?
To get an A of any type you have to make a continuous effort. You have to actively participate in every single class. Your participation has to be productive and meaningful. It has to show that you have done the readings before coming to class and any homework assignment. You need to participate during my lectures by asking thought provoking questions that evidence that you have been reflecting about the readings and the lecture. You also need to excel in the tests and final global examination by showing that you have achieved deep learning of all aspects of the course. You need to excel in every single evaluation, and your essays and other written assignments have to show that you have a very good command of the writing conventions of the discipline.
A students usually come into office hours for assistance when something isn't clear, but they are the ones who say: “I'm not sure I understand the argument for “the lack of logical structure of the predominant legal method. They are never the ones who say: “I don't understand the readings.” Finally, no one ever got an A in this class by starting at week 5 or week 10. They started at week 1 and worked at it. Steadily and regularly.
I have 80's in all my other courses. Why didn't I get an A in your course?
Your performance in this course has to be excellent in order to get an A. Your marks in other courses are irrelevant in this course. Please read the questions on what you need to do in order to do well.
I did not have any factual mistakes. Why didn't I get an A+? Why didn't I get 100? I do not agree with the exceptional category in the evaluation criteria.
According to University policies, an A (80-100) is given to students whose performance in the course is exceptional. If you simply performed well, even if you did not have factual mistakes on the test, you cannot get an A. Again, you can only get an A if you do exceptionally well.
By the way, even if I judge every student's work individually without comparing it to the work of other students, by definition there are very few exceptional works. The majority may simply be good or satisfactory.
OTHER SECTIONS OF THIS COURSE
Why is the other section of this course doing something differently? Why do we have to do this when students in the other section do not?
This is an independent course. The other section of this course and ours will not do the same activities or follow the same syllabus. Each professor is unique. So are our teaching styles and backgrounds. We have coordinated only the general learning outcomes, and we have decided that each will teach the course following his or her own objectives and methodologies. So, each course will be very different as to teaching styles, evaluation methods, and even content. You will be wasting your time if you compare both courses. I will not do or refrain from doing anything because students in the other section are or are not doing something. I can assure you that whichever section you take you will have a unique and very enriching learning experience.