FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I took Culture, Rights, and Power with you before. Can I take this class?
Yes, of course. The only thing is that there will be some overlapping with respect to the sociolegal theories, e.g., feminist jurisprudence, sociological jurisprudence, left realism (sociology of the case), etc. Also, the format of the class will be similar, i.e., in the first part I will be talking about theoretical issues, and in the second part you will be giving presentations. But they are two different courses.
Why are there so many student presentations? Why don’t you lecture more?
I firmly believe that the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator of learning experiences and not a conveyor of information. Also, and even more importantly, I strongly believe that you can learn as much as, or even more, from your own peers than from your teachers. So, I will only give –interactive and participatory- lectures during the first half of the course, where I will emphasize on sociolegal schools, and other fundamental theoretical issues. During the second half, classes will consist almost exclusively of student presentations. My role will be that of observant. I will provide individual feedback to those presenting and I will be working with all of you in my office to help you with the presentations and activities.
I wrote everything that is in the class notes and reader. Why is my grade lower than I’d expected?
The reader and the class notes are just a guide. The important thing is what we actually discuss in class. Also, your critical assessment is required. Please click here for more information about exam evaluations.
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?
I will only choose questions from the test bank.
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.
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.
I missed the class where you returned the tests. Can you email me my grade?
Yes, I don’t mind emailing you your grade. I understand that you must be anxious and want to know your grade. But please get the test from me next class or come get it from my office as soon as you can. 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. 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.
I don’t like speaking in public. Will I have a low grade in this evaluation component?
If you don’t like speaking in public you can actively participate in other ways. For example, you can talk and have a very active role in the small group discussions, you can write your answers and email them to me immediately after the class, or you can think of any other way in which you can actively participate without feeling uncomfortable. The portfolio, where you can record all your participation, is a device especially conceived for students that don’t like speaking in public.
I missed a class. I read the class notes and the articles from the reader. Will I have a problem in the midterm and with the portfolio?
If you only missed one class you can meet with me in my office or talk to a student about what we actually discussed in class. If you missed several classes, you will be at a serious disadvantage.
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.
You said that if a student participates actively every single class, he/she doesn’t have to hand in the portfolio. Is this true?
Yes, that is true. The idea of the portfolio is to help those students that are shy or don’t like speaking in public. So, if you have actively participated in every class, you don’t need to hand in the portfolio.
I came to most classes and I often/sometimes speak in class. Do I need to hand in the portfolio?
You don’t need to hand in the portfolio. But that doesn’t mean you will get an A in class participation. I will judge your participation based solely on your work in class. Remember that, according to the Course Outline, in order to get a very good mark in the class participation component of the evaluation, you need to “actively participate in every class,” and volunteer to lead activities, debates or debriefs.” Also, “your participation must make a positive impact on the class activities” and “class attendance is a prerequisite to obtain the grade under the class participation-portfolio category.” So, if you didn’t actively contribute –orally- to some classes but you still worked hard in those classes, it would be a good idea to hand in the portfolio even if not required to do so.
Do you want the portfolio to be typed up? Would you like it in a folder or binder?
The important thing is the content. All else is irrelevant. As to formalities, please do whatever you prefer or whatever is easier for you.
One of the evaluation criteria for the portfolio is evidence that each of the activities was completed when discussed in class. What does this mean?
This means that you have to do the activities in class during the small group work and not all together the night before the deadline for passing the portfolio in.
How can we show that we did the activities in class?
There are several ways. The best one is to volunteer to discuss them in class. If there was no time, or you don’t like speaking in public, you can email me the activities right after the class. You can also show me a draft of your portfolio every month or so.
Can you give me some ideas as to the format of the presentation?
Sure. Please click here for some tips on the presentation.
I took Culture, Rights and Power with you. How is the presentation different from the ones in that class?
In the first part of the presentation, your group should explain the topic to the whole group. It should last around 15 minutes. Here you should explain about the topic, its connection to Sociology of Law, the theories or authors we addressed in class, and other relevant information. Then, you should prepare an engaging activity for students to apply the knowledge you conveyed. This is the most important aspect of the presentation. The activity has to be well organized. It must permit students to apply knowledge and it must clearly be a learning experience. Also, try to make it intellectually challenging and entertaining. As far as possible, try not to repeat the kind of activities other groups proposed. The last part is your conclusion, which should last around 10 minutes.
Do all members of the group have to talk in each part of the presentation?
No, the way you distribute the roles is entirely up to you.
Is there going to be an essay or final research paper?
There is no separate final paper. Writing is integrated throughout the course.
We will reflect about and deconstruct the different styles of a variety of texts through a myriad of write-to-learn tasks and you will have to write some short essays as part of the class activities. You will have to include all these activities in the portfolio.
Can you give me some tips about organization and style for an essay?
Yes. Please click here.
We have agreed to meet in your office after 5, but access to the second floor is barred. What can I do?
Access to the second floor is sometimes barred after 5 PM. So, please call me from downstairs (494-6278) and I will go down and let you in.
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. 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 and give lectures abroad. So, please be patient if it takes me longer to answer your email.