Assessment and expectations

UMD’s general policies can be found at this link. The text below is a supplement to these policies and describes the principles I aim to follow in creating our classroom space.

This basic rubric describes my interpretation of the Marking System in UMCP’s Undergraduate Catalog. Detailed expectations for each graded element of the course can be found in the online syllabus.

A range (A+, A, A-): Denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship. A-range work is likely to be described as: deeply thought through; nuanced; complex but not confusing; comprehensively researched; fully understands key ideas and casts new light on them.

B range (B+, B, B-): Denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship. B-range work is likely to be described as: interesting; well researched; solid understanding of key concepts; clearly expressed, but sometimes missing out on complexity, or complex but becoming a little confusing at times; fairly thoughtful.

C range (C+, C, C-): Denotes acceptable mastery of the subject. C-range work is likely to be described as: interesting but not fully thought through; confusing; research that is barely sufficient; simplistic understanding of key concepts; frequent factual or mechanical errors.

D range (D+, D, D-): Denotes borderline understanding of the subject. It denotes marginal performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress towards a degree. D-range work is likely to be described as: insufficiently researched; poorly thought through; misunderstanding key concepts; failing to meet all requirements of the assignment; difficult to understand due to writing, formatting, or technical errors.

F grade: Denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance. F work is likely to be described as: failing to meet any basic requirements of the assignment; plagiarized or absent research; very difficult to read due to writing, formatting, or technical errors.

Grade percentage ranges (will be rounded at professor’s discretion):
A+ 98-100 / A 93-97 / A- 90-92
B+ 87-89 / B 83-86 / B- 80-82
C+ 77-79 / C 73-76 / C- 70-72
D+ 67-69 / D 63-66 / D- 60-62
F 0-60

Classroom participation and in-class media
You are required to be present, punctual, prepared, and ready to engage in every scheduled class session. Bring the texts under discussion every day, in print or electronic format, and make sure you have read them carefully. You are welcome to bring your laptop or tablet, but please use it to participate: to access readings and the class blog, or to find information that will add to the discussion. This is a small seminar, and everyone’s experience is diminished if even one person is tuned out; please respect your colleagues and try to stay present.  In general, know yourself: if you won’t be able to resist the internet’s siren call, turn off your wireless or take notes on paper.

In a seminar setting, everyone’s participation is necessary – and in order to participate, you have to be present. However, I know that sometimes things happen that affect our schedules in ways we can’t control. Therefore, you can miss two classes without giving a reason. After the second absence, you will lose 10% of your participation grade for every absence. Tardiness of more than 15 minutes counts for half an absence. When you miss class or are late, it is your responsibility to catch up by asking a classmate for notes from discussion and catching up on reading. You are also always welcome to stop by my office hours and discuss the readings for the day that you missed. If you must be absent more than once for illness or other reasons, let me know and we can discuss possible accommodations.

Faculty and advisors use email to convey important information, and students are responsible for keeping their email address up to date, and must ensure that forwarding to another address functions properly. Failure to check email, errors in forwarding, and returned email are the responsibility of the student, and do not constitute an excuse for missing announcements or deadlines. You must check your university email every day, as I will email with announcements of any last minute changes, including what to do if we have a class cancellation due to inclement weather etc. You are always welcome to email me with questions ( I will aim to respond within 24 hours (48 if you email over the weekend). I expect the same turnaround time when I email you. My answers in email are likely to be short; if you have something you want to discuss in more depth, I prefer that you make an appointment to see me in office hours.

The course website, at, is where class material will be hosted, and it is vital that you check before every class. You will also be posting to the website regularly. Make sure that you are logged in when you visit the website, as much important material is only available to registered students. Your username is your last name, and your initial password is hdcc208; make sure to change your password after your initial login.

There is a shared document on the class website for notes (logged in students only), which you can use in class or outside. This is also a place where you can post questions, comments, or observations that may be useful to your fellow students. We may use it for some of our in-class exercises.

Assignments turned in late will lose points equal to one letter grade per day unless you have been given an extension. If you think you are likely to have problems meeting a deadline, always talk to me in advance. I make decisions about extensions on a case by case basis, but if I can see that you are managing your time as best you can in the face of adverse circumstances, I am more likely to offer you some leeway. If you miss a deadline, turn in the assignment to the best of your ability as soon as you can for partial credit.

Emergency protocol
In the event of emergency campus university closures, I will send an email explaining how lost material will be made up. We may meet online in a chat room or Google Hangout, reschedule class, or make adjustments to the syllabus.