Day/Time: T/R 9:30-10:45 am
Location: CHEM 305
Instructor:
Dr. Deandra Little
Office: Teaching Resource Center, Hotel D, 24 East Range
Office hours: M, R 1-2 pm, and by appointment
Contact information: 982-2807, dlittle@virginia.edu
   

Course Policies

Attendance
Regular attendance is an important part of active participation in class discussion, but I recognize that not everyone will be able to make it to every class. Two (2) or fewer unexcused absences will not affect your grade; however, accumulating more than 2 unexcused absences will result in your grade being deducted one increment (i.e. from an A- to a B+, etc.) per additional absence. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet and to keep track of your absences, so neither of us will be unpleasantly surprised at the end of the semester. In case of illness, emergency or special circumstance, please see me.

Class Participation
To promote active learning, I rely on a variety of exercises to prompt discussion and help us think about the works we are reading in new and different ways. To this end, I expect you to complete readings and assignments on time and to participate regularly. If you feel uncomfortable speaking in class, please let me know outside of class. Also, keep in mind that active participation doesn't just mean talking frequently or knowing all the answers; it can also mean being willing to ask questions, to share responses from your reading journal, or to offer infrequent but thoughtful comments.

Writing Assignments
All writing assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day and time listed on the schedule of assignments. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade per day late. Please plan ahead; computers and printers are notorious for swallowing papers printed out at the last minute!

Grading Scale and Standards
Class Participation & Reading Journal 15%
Group Project 30%
Essay #1 25%
Essay #2 30%

The following rubrics explain the criteria I consider when I assign grades for class participation and formal essays.


Class Participation Rubric
A Comments in class demonstrate that you are doing the reading and that you come to class prepared to ask well-formulated and critical questions of the text and your peers. This level of participation demonstrates your mastery of the material and suggests that you are able to listen to your peers and generate insightful and constructive responses to the debates that might ensue. Discussion skills reflect coherent and sophisticated reasoning.

B Comments in class demonstrate that you are doing the reading and that you are able to process the main elements of the text. You are able to generate satisfactory questions, but do not have "critical distance." You are also able to listen to the comments of your peers and respond with helpful feedback. Whether you agree or disagree with your peers you are able to generate constructive questions with basic reasoning skills.

C Comments in class indicate you have done the reading but made no extra effort to step back and untangle difficulties, reflect, or question. You might make infrequent comments or make frequent comments without relating them directly to the discussion at hand. While a B grade will reflect a sound attempt at grasping the reading, a C grade reflects a shoddy and inadequate attempt to grasp the material or listen to others' comments.

D Students who do not do the reading will receive a grade of D for participation. This includes students who pretend to have done the reading and waste discussion time by commenting on material with which they are unfamiliar. This also includes students who do not follow rules of respect and politeness with regard to opposing opinions. I do understand that on occasion you will be prevented by some natural disaster from doing the reading. This does not mean that you will receive a D grade, nor does it mean that you should not participate in the discussion. (In the event that you were unable to do the reading, please let me know and I will take this into account. I will respect the fact that you are communicating this information to me and take it into account when leading discussion.)


Grading Rubric for Essays
As you will note from the rubric, there are a number of variables that figure into any evaluation of a given paper. I've listed grades from lowest to highest because I want you to read all of the descriptions. Remember, a grade on an essay is not an assessment of the writer's intelligence; it is a measure of how successfully the paper conveys an argument about a particular topic. The grade evaluates the paper, not the student.

An F paper utterly fails to meet college standards. It has no thesis directing it and lacks even a minimal coherence. The writing may fail on a sentence level (in other words, individual sentences are incoherent). Overall, it reflects little knowledge of the text as well as poor grammar and mechanics. If your paper receives an F, come see me immediately. I can help. Do not despair.

A D paper represents minimum pass work, or a C paper that doesn't work. A D paper is often plagued by a lack of focus and may even fail to respond to the assignment. The thesis statement may be vague or unsupported (or even absent), and it may not move beyond summary and description (remember, a successful paper must make an argument, not merely demonstrate that you've attended the talk or watched the movie). It may lack important factual information, make illogical claims, or offer no textual evidence. A D paper will have many grammatical and spelling errors and may even have sentence level errors such as comma splices, run-on sentences and sentence fragments.

A C paper represents satisfactory college work. A C paper demonstrates a firm grasp of the obvious but doesn't move very far beyond that point. The thesis is a general statement or an obvious point in the text (or one discussed at length in class) but not particularly insightful or original; the argument coheres but is simply structured (i.e., it doesn't explore any secondary arguments). Paragraphs are not well organized, have weak topic sentences, or lack development. In short, this essay lacks support for its assertions. Quotations stand alone with no introduction or analysis and consist of a series of long passages from the text. Sentence structures are not very sophisticated (they are short and choppy and/or fail to vary in form) but they are free from serious errors in grammar and punctuation.

A B paper represents above average or good work. The paper has a strong sense of unity that grows out of a focused thesis that is specific, interesting, and original. This essay usually explores secondary arguments or addresses counter-arguments. It contains appropriate, well-integrated quotations, which the author analyzes and contextualizes, providing both claim and warrant. Occasionally this essay introduces a long quotation without providing adequate justification of its significance or an interpretation of its language. It is generally graceful with few mechanical errors, and the few that do appear arise from the complexity of the sentences (i.e., the errors are more sophisticated that those in a C paper).

An A paper represents excellent or superior work. This essay has an original, complex thesis, and each part of the essay advances the argument with abundant detail and sound logic. It wastes no time retelling the plot of the text, but the writer's familiarity with the text is very obvious: apt quotations are selected, appropriately introduced and fully analyzed. An A paper possesses graceful yet complex sentence structures, creative uses of figurative language, sophisticated and precise diction and almost flawless mechanics. This paper makes an insightful argument with force and clarity and is a real accomplishment.