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Use this page to answer questions about assignments given in class.

All Assignments - General Formatting Instructions

The formatting of assignments for this class is important enough that incorrect formatting will result in point deductions. While some students may see this as unnecessarily harsh, it is a simple enough task that not completing it is seen as simple laziness. As in life and future jobs, some simple concessions to your boss/professor often helps you get ahead, therefore it is recommended that you make use of the provided guidelines. They are not merely suggestions, and your ability to manipulate Word documents to meet formatting guidelines will increase with practice. Simply stating 'I don't know how to do that' may actually cost you a job in the future. Simple computer skills are expected by most employers and will only develop with practice.

The required format is outlined in the syllabus that was handed out to you at the beginning of the semester, but here it is again just in case you 'misplaced' it. If the assignment requires you to turn in written work (most of them will) the following formatting guidelines must be followed or you risk losing points:

  • 1" margins all the way around
  • Any header single spaced
  • The document proper (the body of the assignment) double spaced
  • No larger/smaller than 12pt font
  • I prefer Times New Roman, but Arial is acceptable.

You can click here for a step by step document on how to correctly format documents in Word 2007 for this class.


Plagiarism

Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated in my classes. Failure to cite properly for any assignment will result in that assignment receiving a zero. You will not be able to make up the assignment for any reason. Ignorance about what constitutes plagiarism is not an acceptable excuse. You can click here to download the .pdf file of my definition of plagiarism.

Grading Form - Reason for Use / How It Is Used For Class

Here is a link to the grading rubric explanation sheet. The basic idea behind my grading sheet is to remove the majority of the subjectivity out of my grading procedures for papers. The way it is used is simple - each item is posed as a question. The answer is then given a numerical value (based on the question) and that number is assigned. The numbers for each section are then added up, and depending on the section, either written as a total or divided by a specific number designed to weight the section. For example, the first section, 'Spelling/Grammar' is divided by three for a maximum point value of 10. This is done because most of my classes are not English classes and a basic understanding of grammar and spelling rules is assumed. It is not my intention to help the author of the paper write in correct English - however, poor English skills cannot be excused and do influence the understanding of the rest of the paper. If there are significant problems with this section, it will be reflected throughout the rest of the grading sheet. However, simply having a pristine (no spelling/grammatical errors) paper does not ensure that the assignment was completed correctly. And even a seriously problematic paper (ones with serious spelling/grammatical errors) can communicate the goal of the assignment effectively (although the chances of this happening is extremely rare and hard to accomplish).

The next section, Main Article, is the sum of points only, indicating that the points here are of more importance than the previous section. In fact, most of the papers points (40) come from this section.

Case Studies

Case studies are used in the more advanced classes that I teach (anything above Intro). I use them to imporve your critical thinking skills as well as your writing ability. I have found that most people think the way they write: If they can write critically, they often use those skills in their day to day thinking. If they can’t or don’t write critically, they often don’t think critically in their day to day lives. I honestly believe that critical thinking skills are important for future success in life as well as the success of our country as a whole. Here is a guide (you can download the document from my website) to help you write successful case studies.

Discussions

Discussions are another way that I seek to improve the critical thinking of students who take my classes (typically only those in more advanced classes - above Intro, although I do expect students in Intro to begin to flex their critical thinking muscle). In class discussions improve the experience of everybody, and expose students to opinions that they may not agree with or completely understand. It is good to be exposed to these opinions, and to reason critically about them.

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