Monday, October 24, 2011

This Semester I'm Only Teaching an Honors Seminar

You will have to guess what Stu wrote to me. Here is my response.

Dear Stu,

As our class is a seminar and not an online class, it is impossible to keep up through email; the emails that I send out are supplementary reminders of important dates and written clarifications about the assignments. Furthermore, you have not been keeping up: In addition to missing out on class discussions, you have not turned in the writing assignment (as described on our course syllabus) that was due on October 5. All assignments are described on the syllabus, and I gave further details in class.

Our course is an honors seminar. Because of this fact, I have chosen to run the class in a way that allows students a great amount of freedom. This means both the freedom to learn a lot through exploring ideas in unconventional ways as well as the freedom to make choices that lead to a lesser educational experience. One of my goals for this course is to give students the tools for acquiring an excellent education at [our university]; one step in this process is learning to be responsible for one's own learning and how to make good decisions about one's classwork.

Typically in a college course when a student must be absent, the student will consult with a classmate to get notes on what was missed. However, when a student knows in advance that multiple classes must be missed, it is the student's responsibilty to work out arrangements with the instructor ahead of time. It should go without saying that your absences have negatively affected your participation grade. If you can have your ROTC commanding officer get in touch with me (in writing) stating that you had mandatory ROTC commitments on those particular dates, covering the time period for our class, and that there was no other way for you to meet your ROTC obligations aside from missing our class, I can reduce the grade penalty.

If you would like to stop by my office to touch base on your current work on the project, let me know what would be a good time for you. [Information about my availability] Let me know if you would like to make an appointment.

Sincerely,
Dr. Hirta