FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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 to rate and rank your efforts.
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, email me to make an appointment to come to my office to get the test back and your grade. Your test has comments and feedback about your answers. These are more useful for your learning process than a simple grade.
I can't come to class the day of the midterm Is there a make up? I missed class, so I didnít write the midterm. When can I write it?
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. 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.† Since I have to write a new test, you will have to wait until I have some time to write it. 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 don't agree with the mark I received in my test. Can I go over the test with you?
I give extensive feedback to all students when I return the tests, usually the class immediately following the of the test. We redo the test all together.† And I answer questions about the test in class.
I donít agree with the mark I received in my test. Can I go to your office and go over the test with you?
I strongly believe that we learn collectively and that everybody benefits from discussing issues together. That is why I give feedback in class. Unless you want to discuss something personal which no students may hear, Iíd rather we discussed your test in class.
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, 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 writerís 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 othersí questions be beneficial for anyone? Why donít you lecture all the time?
I am truly convinced that we all learn by actively engaging with new experiences, by actively doing, reflecting, arguing, and discussing rather than by simply listening to someone talk. The role of the lecture is archaic. It was a good method when very few people had access to books and other sources of information. So, a professor had to read to or lecture students. Now, access to books and other sources is extremely easy. Today, there is no point in merely transmitting information in class. So, my class activities offer you the possibility of engaging with new concepts, ideas, and methodologies. The more you interact with them, the better you will appropriate them. Besides, your classmates are a very important source of learning. You can learn a lot from the collective insights that other students bring to the classroom. You should not see me as the only Ėor even the most important source of learning. I see my role as a facilitator of opportunities for you to engage and interact with new theories and methods. Please read Perry's Social Interaction Models to learn more about this.
Why donít 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. 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.
Why isnít there a mandatory essay like in most other courses?
Many class activities will include the writing of short essays. So, you will be writing many essays throughout the course. Some or all of your tests will also consist of the writing of short essays. Your final take-home evaluation will include the writing of an essay. While it is one of the objectives of the course that you learn the writing conventions of the discipline, I believe that this objective is best achieved by writing several short essays throughout the course where I and your peers can provide you with feedback than to ask you to write one or two formal essays and then grade those essays. These essays are graded as part of the class participation component of the evaluation.
Are there any organization and style requirements for the essays?
Yes. Please click here to read about the required style and organization of the essay.
CONTACT WITH THE TEACHER. OFFICE HOURS AND EMAILS
What is your office-hours policy?
I am available for many academic-related issues, such as writing letters of reference and helping with prospective graduate and professional studies. Because many students come to my office hours, I strongly recommend that you make an appointment with me by email. Also, 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 and holidays. 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.
Can I go to your office so that you can explain the last topic again?
You are welcome to come to my office, but learning takes place in class together with all other students in a carefully designed environment that fosters deep learning. Please raise your concern in class, and I will be happy to address it in class.
I got a low grade for class participation. I told you I would miss classes because of other commitments.
Yes, I appreciate you told me you would have to miss a few classes. But you get a good grade if you actively participate in class. If you donít come to class you cannot participate, so your grade reflects your actual participation in class.
I got a low participation grade. I came to all classes. I sat at the back and was quiet, but I didnít miss any class.
Exactly, your participation grade assesses your class participation. If you are quite and donít participate in class, then your grade reflects this.
I got a low final grade. What can I do to get a better grade?
A final grade is precisely final. There is nothing I can do now. I gave every student many opportunities throughout the term so that you can all have a good grade. Now it is too late.
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.
As students usually come into office hours for assistance when something isn't clear, but they are the ones who say: ďI'm not sure I understand the argument for ďthe lack of logical structure of the predominant legal method. They are never the ones who say: ďI don't understand the readings.Ē 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 have an 80's in this course. Why didn't I get an A in other courses with other teachers?
Teachers have different assessment methods. They are all valid. Don't expect other teachers to follow my assessment method or even my teaching methods. In order to get an A in other courses, you need to follow the teacher's instructions to do well in those other courses.
I did not have any factual mistakes. Why didn't I get an A+? Why didn't I get 100?
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.
I have a personal legal problem. Can you please give me legal advice/help me?
No. I am afraid I cannot help you. I am a teacher, not a practicing attorney. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a lawyer that is authorized to practice law in Ontario. I am not.
I have sent you a friend request. Why haven't you accepted me as a friend?
I have little control over what my friends may write as comments to what I post on Facebook. Some of these postings may not be appropriate. Once you graduate and leave this University, or if you permanently transfer to another insitution, I will be happy to accept you as a friend in Facebook.
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.
Can you help me choose my courses?
First of all, make sure that I am your academic advisor as listed on your academic summary. If I am not, please see your academic advisor.
If I am, I will be happy to help you with advice regarding your program. First, familiarize yourself with the program requirements from the Universityís website. Ask me for advice, not for information that you can obtain online. Also, donít ask me about particular courses, e.g., if they are easy, if you will like them, etc. My role is to give you advice about program requirements.
I need to sign up for electives outside the program? Can you help me?
I am not familiar with courses outside JURI/POLI. So, I canít help you with those.
Can I see you in your office for academic advising?
Yes, provided I am officially your academic advisor. But first please email me what you want to discuss. There are certain things, such as quick questions, that are more efficiently discussed over email. If your question is better handled personally, we will make an appointment. Remember that my responsibility is to give you academic advising when you need it. Finding information is exclusively yours.
If it is something that is best handled by email, I will answer
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.