The Fine (but Important) Print
Spring 2017 Edition
Bruce B. Janz
This document is considered part of all syllabi in all my classes. This document was originally set up for face to face courses. Some of what is here is relevant to a web course, and some is not. I will note below where there is a deviation from a F2F format – the relevant deviation material for online or mediated courses will be in italics like this note.
STANDARDS FOR PAPERS
I expect papers and take-home exams to be typewritten, in essay form (that is, not point form). They should be in 12 point Times New Roman font, with one inch margins, and double-spaced. Pages must be numbered, and the paper should be single-sided (that is, do not use both sides of the sheet of paper when printing). There should be a title page which includes the title of the paper, the name of the author, the date, the course, and the name of the professor. DO NOT put the paper in a folder, binder or plastic sleeve. I will be taking grammar, spelling, and structure into account – good ideas cannot be communicated with poor form. If the grammar or structure in a paper is severely flawed, I reserve the right to give a paper back to the student for revision without a grade (or with a reduction in grade), or fail the paper. As for citation style, I will be using the MLA format. For citing electronic sources in MLA, go to this link: http://www.mhsl.uab.edu/ref/guides/web/ces.html. I am open to other recognized formats (e.g., Chicago, Turabian), but whatever format you use must be used consistently. Note that the library has obtained a site license for a number of good citation programs, such as Endnote and ProCite, which can aid in proper citation form. See the library’s home page for these. For information on documentation styles, see http://www.uwc.ucf.edu/Writing%20Resources/writing_resources_home.htm#documentation
ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION OF PAPERS
For W course students: What follows in this section will not be entirely relevant, since you will be submitting your papers electronically, generally to the relevant assignment in Webcourses. However, please pay attention to things like formatting details, below.
Some professors do not allow electronic submissions; I, on the other hand, generally prefer it for most assignments. It should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment. For fully online courses, submit papers in Webcourses, in the relevant assignment link. The paper must appear identical to how it would look if you were to hand it in as a physical document (in other words, with a title page at the beginning and reference list at the end), as a single file. You will receive typed comments on the paper, and it will be returned electronically in the same format as it was sent. Do not include .exe, .scr or .zip files or anything that might contain a virus, and please scan your document with a virus program before you send it. For non-online courses, send the paper from your Knightsmail account, and please identify yourself and the course in the subject line of the message (e.g., “<Your Name>, <Paper title> for <course name and number>”). I will likely rename the paper in the following format: “lastname, firstinitial – short paper name”. Please make sure as well that I can reach you at the email address that you use to send the paper, in case the file does not open. NOTE: You will receive a return email from me when you send your paper in. If you do not receive an email, please assume that the paper was not received, and try
contacting me again. If you do not receive confirmation, the paper may not have arrived, and so you will not receive a grade for it. The only proof that I received a paper is an email response from me. Claiming later that you sent it is not good enough, because I don’t know whether you really did or not.
- Why should I submit my paper electronically? You will likely receive more extensive comments, as I can type faster than I can write. You may receive the paper back faster, as I often return electronic papers before class. Drawback: I cannot record a grade on a paper sent by email (see below in “Communication of Grades”). You will still have to find out your grade in class, or through Webcourses.
- Is electronic submission acceptable for all assignments? Almost all, but in some cases it may not be. In non-W courses, take-home finals, for instance, will likely need a hard copy to be submitted (although electronic submissions may be acceptable in addition to the hard copy). Generally I will say if it is acceptable – if in doubt, please ask.
- Which formats are acceptable? It needs to be in Microsoft Word (any version up to the current, .doc, docx), Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), WordPerfect (.wpd), or OpenOffice (.opd). It will be read on a Windows PC system, which may cause problems for papers written on Macs. Please make sure that your paper actually opens on a Windows system. I will not download another word processor and install it in order to read your paper. If you send the paper in pdf format (Adobe Acrobat), I will make comments using the comment tag feature.
- Can I send multiple files with, say, a title page, body of text, notes, bibliography, images? No, please don’t. Please send only one document for an assignment. If you can’t get the page number to work (that is, the title page gets numbered), I’d rather have one document with the title page numbered than multiple documents.
- How do I know that my paper arrived? I will respond to your email containing your paper once I have determined that the file opens. If you don’t receive an email from me within a day or so, check that the paper arrived. Email is notoriously unreliable, and it is possible that something went wrong. If you submit in Webcourses, there is a record of the submission and there should be no problem.
- Why can’t I read the returned paper? It may be that you use Microsoft Works, instead of Microsoft Word. These programs may not be compatible. The paper should be sent in Microsoft Word, not Works. You may be able to install a document converter – see your program documentation.
- The file opens but I can’t read the comments. What do I do? If you sent the paper in Microsoft Word, I will use the “Comments” function and the “Track Changes” option. If the program opens, but you don’t see any comments, bring up the “Reviewing” toolbar (right-click on your toolbar at the top, and when you see a list of options for toolbars, make sure the “reviewing” toolbar is checked). Look for a tab marked “show”, and click it. Underneath you will see several options. Make sure “Comments” and “Insertions and Deletions” at least are marked (the others wouldn’t hurt, either). If you are using WordPerfect, either make sure you are in “draft” mode, or else while in “page” mode, go to the far left margin (you may have to scroll the screen to the side), and note the small tabs. When you click on one, you will be able to see comments. Please use the program that you used originally – comments may not be readable if made in one word processor and read in another.
- How about papers that are supposed to be uploaded to a wiki? None of this applies. See below for information on wikis.
- Where’s my grade? See the section below on the communication of grades.
- Can I fax my paper to the department instead? Sorry, the department has a policy of not accepting faxes of assignments from students. Plus, you don’t really still use a fax, do you? Time to upgrade, if you do.
The University Writing Center (UWC) is a free resource for UCF students. At the UWC, a trained writing consultant will work individually with you on anything you’re writing (in or out of class), at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make an appointment, visit the UWC website at http://www.uwc.ucf.edu, stop by the first floor of Colbourn Hall, or call (407) 823-2197.
ATTENDANCE, ABSENCES FROM CLASS AND FROM EXAMS, AND LATE ARRIVALS
Obviously, for a W course attendance doesn’t usually mean the same as it does for a F2F course. However, work should still be done on the course schedule, and some of the issues below will still apply to the W situation. I will, of course, take legitimate medical reasons into account. Please note that in the case of some W courses, there may be a synchronous component. There may be times when the class will need to be online at the same time. In these situations, these requirements should be observed by all students. At the same time, I also recognize that W courses do not have a time assigned when people sign up, and so it is possible that at least some of the time another class could be scheduled when the online synchronous component is scheduled. Please contact me in cases like this.
I expect students to be in every class, on time. Classes are absolutely essential to success in the course. If you cannot be at a class, let me know beforehand. I reserve the right to not accept assignments from students either if attendance has been a problem, or if a paper is seriously late without a legitimate (in my opinion) reason. This includes any paper or graded activity in the course, including the final paper and the final exam. I will only inflict this measure after having given a warning; however, if you simply never come to class, do not expect to get much sympathy at the end of the term when you want to hand in assignments. PLEASE NOTE: Specific classes may have other attendance requirements. Please see the syllabus.
Generally, I adhere to the list of university approved reasons for absence. The following is an expansion on some of those points.
- Job Conflict: I have very little sympathy for those who tell me that their job got in the way of coming to class. If you are unable to attend a class regularly due to a job, please drop the course and take it in a term when you can come. Occasional conflicts are understandable, but regular ones indicate that you should be taking the class in another term. I do understand that many or most of you need to work while going to school, and I have no problem with that – but at the same time, your courses do need to have the attention they deserve, which includes attendance. In the case of online courses, “attendance” means checking in more than once a week, and fully engaging in discussions and other work on time. Job conflicts are even less of an excuse for online courses, since they are asynchronous.
- Other School Activities: I understand that occasionally other school activities may get in the way of class (e.g., team trips, drama rehearsals, etc.) These should be kept to a minimum – this is a courtesy on my part to you and to the coach/director, and my patience will run thin if it becomes a regular occurence. As with jobs, if you anticipate a regular absence from the course, please drop the course and take it in a future term, when you do not have a conflict.
- Illness: Absences due to illness will require some evidence, such as a doctor’s note. See below for more on chronic absences due to illness.
- Late Arrivals to Class: Arriving late disrupts the class. Please arrive on time. If you can only make it to class very late (like, halfway through or more), please don’t come in at all.
- Absence from Exams/Make-up Exams: The university list of approved reasons for absence applies here. I discourage make-up or rescheduled exams, as they tend not to be fair to the whole class, but I recognize that there are circumstances that are unavoidable. It is important to talk to me beforehand. I will not change final exam dates simply to accommodate travel schedules or job requirements. I am especially unsympathetic if someone buys a plane ticket first, and comes to me later saying that I have to change an exam date to accommodate it. If there are other reasons that you think might be legitimate, please see me. Remember, I have to ensure fairness for the entire class, and I also have to ensure that questions do not leak out to the rest of the class prior to the scheduled exam. The final exam date is known from the first day of the course – please choose your courses with that knowledge from the beginning.
- Chronic Absence: There may come a time that, even with the best of reasons, a student may have too many absences to be able to finish the course. If you miss a month of the course due to illness or some other reason, you should consider withdrawing from it. It is possible, with the permission of the instructor and the college, to have a late withdrawal, in extreme circumstances such as illness or a death in the family. Do not be surprised if I ask you to withdraw if you have missed a large number of classes. It is better than failing a course, which will almost certainly occur for someone who has not been part of the classroom work. Assessment on exams and papers heavily privileges those who have been in class regularly and done the reading.
There is another reason to be in class on time. I consider the syllabus, the class, and this “Fine Print” document to be the official record for the course. If I announce something in class, I assume that everyone has heard it. If the class location changes for a given day, for instance, I may only announce that in class. If you miss a class, it is up to you to find out what is happening. I will not repeat instructions that were given in the official class time, nor will I deliver lectures over again if a person missed the class or was late. If you miss the day when we discuss an upcoming exam, it is up to you to find out what happened from someone in the class.
If you are in an online (W) course, please realize that I can see how much time you’ve spent on the course. This is the rough equivalent of attendance. It may not receive a grade, but if we reach the end of the term and you think that your grade is not what you want, but I can see that you’ve only spent 7 hours in the course for the entire term (yes, that happens), I will likely not be too sympathetic. Remember, if this were a F2F course, you would be in class 15×3=45 hours, plus the hours spent outside of class doing the readings, doing assignments, etc. Online courses are not meant to be easier, they are meant to be more convenient, and if I can see that you haven’t been taking that seriously, I will not likely be too sympathetic to your pleas about a low grade.
The bottom line is this: I am happy and willing to work with you if you show the respect of coming to class on time and participating. If, however, you don’t bother to come, you haven’t pulled your weight, and I see no reason to make up for your lack of commitment to the class. So, take it seriously.
On late papers in general: The due dates are firm. There will be penalties for late papers. If there is a legitimate reason for a paper being late, I am willing to consider it and waive the late penalty. Unacceptable reasons include:
- “I had too much work” (you could have started earlier)
- “My computer deleted my file” (make back-ups)
- “I’m on a team and we were away” (work that out with your coach, not me)
- “I couldn’t think of a topic” (come & see me early)
- “I just procrastinated – it’s a problem for me” (if you know this is a problem, plan ahead to deal with it)
This, of course, does not exhaust the list of reasons that will not succeed. Plan ahead, and save yourself problems. Having said that, I recognize that there will sometimes be factors beyond a person’s control. I will deal with these cases on an individual basis. Giving an extension in one case in no way obligates me to do it in others. The most successful appeal will a) have an argument for why an extension is justified, and b) tell me how the assignment will be made better by the extension.
I will be especially unwilling to help anyone who has just not come to class for a substantial amount of time, and then wants to catch up by doing papers later. If you cannot come to class and participate, please drop the course and take it again in a term when you can give it your attention.
In a number of my courses, we will be using a variety of digital tools to augment and enhance the course. These could include wikis, blogs, course delivery software such as Canvas (local name: Webcourses), or some other tool. Some of these may require you to set up a login. This is part of the course. While the use of these tools will assume that you have a functioning computer with basic software on it, in some cases more sophisticated software might be required. I will try to let you know which tools we are using at the beginning of the course, so that you can prepare yourself. If the software needs to be purchased, this will be included in the list of required textbooks.
- Working with Wikis: In some classes I will ask you to upload a paper or other material to the wiki. I will make comments in the comment window on such papers, but I will not put grades on the wiki. Everyone in the class can see these pages, and so grades will not be recorded there. If we use a wiki in class there will be further information on how to use it.
- Live broadcasts/webcasts: There will be some courses that could have live webcasts involved. These will be timed, as much as possible, to coincide with class, but sometimes that is impossible. When these webcasts will be included, I will make every effort to let you know right from the beginning of term that they are happening.
- Piazza: There is a discussion tool within Canvas that will be used in some courses. I will announce this at the beginning of the term, if we are going to use it.
- Textbook publisher provided resources: In some cases the publisher of a textbook provides resources. If we decide to use them they are an official part of the course and you will be expected to have looked at them. In many cases you can only get access to these if you have purchased the course textbook, so that is another important reason to be sure that you have the book for the course.
COMMUNICATION OF GRADES
Grade reporting to students will happen through Webcourses, in all modalities of the course. The university follows the national FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) code, which does not allow the communication of grades to a student by email (including embedding them in documents, which means they cannot be placed on a paper emailed to me), or by posting them outside a professor’s door. This is a confidentiality issue. Please do not ask me for your grade by email outside of Webcourses – by law I cannot send it. I can’t give it to your parents or roommate. Within Webcourses – no problem, of course, since it is a secure system. And, we can talk about grades in my office, as long as there is no one else present.
GENERAL COMMUNICATION WITH STUDENTS
For W courses – contact me through Webcourses. The comments below on the speed of my response still hold, though – you will need to give me time to respond.
In this class our official mode of communication is through email. All communication between student and instructor and between student and student should be respectful and professional. As of Fall 2009, Knightsmail is the only official student email at UCF. Class rosters list Knightsmail addresses rather than external email addresses, and all official class communications will be sent only to the Knightsmail addresses. Students are responsible for checking their Knightsmail accounts regularly. See https://extranet.cst.ucf.edu/KMailSelfSvc/FAQ/ for further information.
I will not expect you to answer an email from me on a weekend or holiday, and you shouldn’t expect that from me either. Generally, you can expect a response within two school days.
I will only give an incomplete in very rare and unique circumstances. Simply not having time to finish work during the term is not a sufficient reason. Even medical reasons may not be enough – medical withdrawal from the course is a preferable option in many cases (if medical withdrawal is to be taken, it needs to be taken from all courses in a given term). So, please do not take on too much in a term, thinking that it will be easy to get an incomplete and then finish the work later. Incompletes will require documented evidence from the student. Please note as well: Incomplete grade automatically revert to F’s one year from the end of the course in question.
As with all matters of student conduct, academic honesty is governed by the “Golden Rule”. We will discuss the nature of academic honesty in class, but a note here is warranted. Basically, your work should be your own and original to this class, and when you are drawing on the words, images, or ideas of others, this should be properly noted. What must be avoided?
- Handing in an identical (or substantially similar) paper to another person in the class.
- Using a paper from another student (e.g., a former student, or a paper from an internet paper mill), including a former student in the course you are taking with me.
- Using any information from a book or an internet site without proper referencing.
- Handing in work that you previously submitted for a grade in another class, or are simultaneously submitting to another class, without discussing it first with the professor. This includes excerpts of your own writing that you cut and paste or reformat into a new paper. If you plan to use anything at all that has previously received a grade or is being submitted for another grade, you need to discuss it with the professor in advance – it may be possible to do so, but only with prior discussion. There are rare cases when a student will be allowed to write a single paper for two courses, if the material is relevant and if both professors agree to it in advance, but the paper is usually expected to be more ambitious and more extensive.
The university writing center has many useful handouts on writing, including handouts on properly handling citations. If you have any question about how to properly complete an assignment, please see me. On occasion I may submit student papers (or ask students to submit them) to Turnitin.com, a website that checks for plagiarism. Papers submitted to that site become part of their database. Submitting a paper in this course gives consent for your paper to be added to their database.
The University of Central Florida is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. Students with disabilities who need accommodations in this course must contact the professor at the beginning of the semester to discuss needed accommodations. No accommodations will be provided until the student has met with the professor to request accommodations. Students who need accommodations must be registered with Student Disability Services, Student Resource Center Room 132, phone (407) 823-2371, TTY/TDD only phone (407) 823-2116, before requesting accommodations from the professor.
VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT
Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex that interferes with educational opportunities is an offense subject to the same penalties as offenses based on other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find resources available to support the victim, including confidential resources, and information concerning reporting options at shield.ucf.edu. Perpetrators are subject to expulsion or termination and may also be subject to criminal penalties.
FINANCIAL AID REPORTING
As of Fall 2014, all faculty are required to document students’ academic activity at the beginning of each course. In order to document that you began this course, please complete the following academic activity by the end of the first week of classes or as soon as possible after adding the course: FINANCIAL AID QUIZ. This will be located in the Webcourse page for your course. Failure to do so may result in a delay in the disbursement of your financial aid.
Many of my courses deal with issues in contemporary culture. Occasionally, there may be controversial content – concepts, images, opinions – that we will consider. If you feel uncomfortable with this, please let me know and we can try to make accommodations, but everyone should be aware that the nature of the humanities, philosophy, and religious studies is to consider a wide range of ideas and images, some of which will be offensive to some people. The goal is not to endorse these images, ideas, or opinions, but to understand and analyze them. I do not give specific trigger warnings – I want a classroom that is sensitive to the histories and current situation of individuals and the groups they belong to, but I also want a free exchange of ideas and the ability to explore difficult things. Academic freedom extends to everyone in the class, but so does academic responsibility and compassion.
DROP & WITHDRAWAL
It is the student’s responsibility to drop or withdraw from the course if there is an unavoidable conflict or if the need should arise for another reason. Students who fail to drop before the deadline established in the curriculum catalogue will receive an F for the course. For Spring 2017, the drop date is 11:59 p.m., Thursday, January 12. The withdrawal deadline is Wednesday, March 22. All dates relevant to this term are available in the online academic calendar for this term: http://calendar.ucf.edu/2017/spring.