Productive participation in class is a critically important component of every course. Its contribution to the success of a class is a joint responsibility of the instructor and the students. The likelihood of success is greatly improved if there are explicit goals and means for achieving them that are agreed to in advance.
This statement outlines general goals, strategies, requirements and assessment procedures relating to class participation in all of my courses. They will be discussed at the beginning of each course and, as indicated below, they are implemented in various ways specific to the course in collaboration with the participants. I would appreciate any suggestions, at any time, that you might have on how they might be refined.
This is a graduate course in a professional school and as such it has two primary goals relating to your participation in the class.
These goals are pursued directly in the course through both readings and discussion about the issues relating to them and active modelling of exemplary practice. In developing the conceptual and analytical frameworks that are considered in the course, specific attention is given to the role and significance of values, morals and ethics and their implications for your professional practice. Examples of codes of ethics will be examined. In discussing substantive and procedural issues, you will be challenged to reflect on their explicit and implicit normative content.
Throughout the course we will work together on modelling exemplary professional practices. As the instructor it is my responsibility to not only inform you about norms of practice but also demonstrate them in the conduct of the course.
The requirements for student attendance in class are based on those of SCARP and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. You are expected to attend all classes and to be prepared to participate fully. Whenever you are unable to attend a class because of illness or other commitments the instructor should be informed. If you anticipate that it might be necessary for you to be absent from a class it is expected that you will notify the instructor in advance. When illness or uncontrollable events make prior notification impossible, you are required to contact me within 48 hours in order that we can make whatever arrangements are necessary to ensure nobody is disadvantaged as a result. You are encouraged to speak with me at the earliest opportunity if you anticipate any problem in being able to attend consistently.
As the instructor I make the equivalent attendance and notice commitments to the class. Please ensure that you keep me informed of your telephone numbers and email addresses so that you can be promptly contacted in the event that through sickness or an emergency I am unable to attend or arrive on time at a scheduled class or meeting.
The course is designed as a seminar in which discussion is variously led by the instructor or students. Its success depends on all participants coming to each session prepared to enter into the discussions and to contribute to the proceedings. Readings are provided in advance. Learning how to cope with a heavy reading load and to ensure that you attend meetings with at least minimal preparation is an essential skill of professional practice today. To achieve your goals, good preparation is essential. If you have any difficulty with the reading or work load please speak with me about it as soon as this becomes a concern.
Depending on the number of students in the class we will find a room to use that enables us to sit around a table or in a circle so that we can all face each other and make extensive use of blackboards, flipcharts and projectors. Considerable attention will be given to the skills and techniques for the facilitation and conduct of productive meetings. We will always use a written agenda and provide opportunities for anybody to put items on it. Early in the course we will discuss protocols for the conduct of class sessions. For course assignments that involve working with one or more students, a written agreement will be developed at the beginning of the term that lays out the responsibilities of each participant and any terms and conditions; I will indicate its minimal content but you may include any provisions that you can agree on with your collaborators.
The goal of assessing class participation is to evaluate how well we are doing and how we can do better. Within basic requirements established by the instructor, we will work together on improving participation in this and future offerings of the course. Consideration will be given to both the individual and the class as a group. I encourage you to speak to me or the class whenever you have a suggestion as to how participation can be improved.
Early in the term we will reach an agreement on the criteria, data and process to be used in assessing class participation and determining the associated portion of the grade for the course. Reflecting the importance that is attached to these goals, you will note that this is a substantial proporton of the total grade for the course (10%). At the end of the course, besides applying the procedure to determine class participation grades, we will discuss ideas for improving future classes. You will also have the opportunity to include comments and suggestions on class participation as part of a confidential course evaluation administered by the School.