If you can’t find an answer here or on the course syllabus, please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions.
Q: There are some mysterious letters in the margins of my papers — what do they mean?
When grading papers I sometimes use abbreviations to indicate areas for improvement/correction. Here is a guide to help decrypt my comments.
Q: Where are those writing guides that you keep telling us to keep in mind when we are writing and proofreading?
Right here: Writing Guides.
Q: What is the policy on work submitted late?
The basic policy is on the syllabus: if you have an excusable absence, you need to contact me in advance of class to make alternative arrangements. Even if you have to miss class, you should arrange to get me any work that is due that day (unless there is a good reason for us to make other arrangements). Just to be clear, unless we’ve made alternative arrangements:
- If I do not receive your work at the time it is due, it will count for ZERO credit.
- If your work is due in hard copy and you email it to me instead, it will be eligible for only HALF credit. It is frustrating when a printer breaks or isn’t available, but part of your responsibility is to find reliable places to print and to plan far enough ahead that you can find a backup printer if needed. This partial credit only applies if I receive the email prior to the time the assignment is due.
Q: What is my current grade in the course?
I make all your grades available on Blackboard so that you can do this estimation yourself. While I understand end-of-semester anxiety about grades, please do not ask me to “calculate your grade” for you or tell you “what you need to get an A (or B, or pass, etc.).” There are several reasons I cannot (or will not) do this for you: (a) if I went through the details of this answer for everyone, it would have to be my full-time job (and I would rather spend this time actually helping you to learn and do better), (b) the only sound strategy for achieving the grade you want is to work as hard as you can on the remaining assignments, period—knowing the exact distance between your current grade and the grade you want won’t change this strategy, and (c) aside from my amazing math skills (they’re just average, actually), I am no better as making this estimation than you are. You have all the information you need in order to calculate your grade. The official breakdown is on the syllabus, and all of your grades are available to you on Blackboard.
Here’s a basic approach to estimating your grade:
- Estimate your journal grade: Add together the total number of eligible points on journal grades so far (these are listed on each assignment and in the Blackboard gradebook): call this number T. Then add together the grades you have earned on those entries: call this number E. Divide: E/T. Multiply by 10: this is your “overall score.” You can estimate that an overall score corresponds to the following letter ranges: A=9-10, B=7-8, C=5-6, D=3-4, E=0-2. Convert that letter grade to an estimated score of out 100 (A=90-10, B=80-89, etc.).
- Figure out what percentage of the course requirements we’ve completed so far. For example, if we’ve done two exams at 15% each and one essay at 20%, plus a number of short assignments which make up 10% of the grade and participation at 5%, then we’ve completed 15 + 15 + 20 + 10 + 5 = 65% of the course.
- Then figure out how much of these portions you’ve earned. For example, if you grade on the first exam was a B+, that’s about 88 out of 100. Multiply that by how much it counts towards your overall grade (15%) and you’ll get 88 x 0.15 = 13.2. Do that for each of your grades and add all the numbers together. So, let’s say, 13.2 + 14.3 + 18.1 + 8 + 5 = 58.6. (You’ll have to do a little estimation for your short assignments and participation–see the FAQ below to estimate whether your short assignment grades are roughly in the A, B or C range.)
- Now divide the number from step 2 (what you’ve earned) into the number from step 1 (what you could have earned so far). For example, 58.6/65 = 0.90. That’s 90%. So your grade so far would be just about an A- (estimated).
This is exactly what I will do when I calculate your grade at the end of the course (in addition to coming up with a more exact formula for fairly averaging your journal entries and including extra credit.)
Q: How do I submit an assignment through Blackboard with SafeAssign?
- There are general instructions available online.
- You will need to save your assignment in one of the following common formats: .doc, .docx, .odt, .txt, .rft, or .pdf.
- Make your file easy to identify by naming it using the following format: YourName_PHL118 (for example: SueStudent_PHL118.doc).
- If you have technical problems, please contact the OIT Help Desk at (989) 774-3662.
Q: Where can I find the PDF of one of the readings for the course?
All PDF readings are available only through Blackboard. Go into the course page in your Blackboard account and look for the reading under the link to “Course Readings” on the left side.
Q: What is involved in earning extra credit for the course?
Throughout the semester I will announce some opportunities for extra credit. These will generally involve completing an out of class exercise (e.g., attending an on campus event) and submitting a written report. A complete and well composed report will earn you up to 3 points on your philosophical journal point total for the semester. The maximum amount of extra credit points you can earn over the semester is 10 (though I encourage you to attend as many of these events as you can!).