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Grades, Rules, and Conduct

See A Guide to My Editorial Comments for a key to the editorial marks I use when grading written projects. See also Clayton State's Writing Criteria for details on expectations and grades for written assignments.

Final grades will be determined using the weighted average presented in Table 1. In borderline cases (e.g. an 89 average), attendance and class participation will be the deciding factors.

Percentages of final grade
Attendance 5%
Participation 10%
Class Assignments 10%
Quizzes 15%
Exams 1 and 2 20%
Final Exam 10%
Analysis Paper 30%
TOTAL 100%

Attendance (5%)

It is in your best interest to attend every lecture, since this is the best way to learn about media and culture. For online courses, class attendance and participation are measured in terms of timely completion of weekly assignments, quizzes and exams, and discussion board conversations. In on-campus classes, always arrive five minutes early to class lectures and tests, not only because we will start promptly but also because late arrivals are extremely disruptive. If you attend all classes, you will earn *extra credit* on your attendance grade. If necessary, two absences will not adversely affect your grade (an A), but each absence thereafter will lower your attendance grade by a full letter grade (an A to a B, etc.). Thus, you should use these two absences well: save them for illness, religious worship, travel, etc. If you arrive at class after I have taken roll, you will be marked “late”; two “late” marks equal one absence. Absence from more than 20% of class meetings is grounds for course failure (an F) and/or administrative withdrawal.

Except in cases of emergency or medical treatment with official written documentation, excuses for absences are irrelevant. If you find that you must miss a class, you are still responsible for the material covered during your absence. Be advised that some of our in-class films may be difficult to obtain outside of class. Excuses for tardiness are also irrelevant because these behaviors are so disruptive to your classmates and professor. If you must arrive late, just enter the class as quietly as you can: have your pen and paper out of your backpack before you enter the room, turn your phone off before you enter the room, close the door quietly behind you, sit quickly on an aisle seat in the back of the room, etc.

Those who choose to text, to frequently exit the classroom during lecture, or to create other disruptions will be asked to leave the classroom since these behaviors disrupt your classmates and professor very much. Each disruptive instance will be marked as a tardy or absence. Thus, any texting in class or repeatedly leaving the classroom during lecture will also lower your final course grade.

University Attendance Policy: Students are expected to attend and participate in every class meeting. Instructors establish specific policies relating to absences in their courses and communicate these policies to the students through the course syllabi. Individual instructors, based upon the nature of the course, determine what effect excused and unexcused absences have in determining grades and upon students’ ability to remain enrolled in their courses. The university reserves the right to determine that excessive absences, whether justified or not, are sufficient cause for institutional withdrawals or failing grades.

Participation (10%)

You are expected to attend all classes, lectures, and film screenings, to be punctual and attentive, and to be prepared to participate in daily class discussion of our assignments. Note that your presence or absence in the classroom determines only your attendance grade; your participation grade depends upon your demonstrated involvement with our assigned material during class discussions & our Paper Writing Workshops. To fully participate in class, you should:

1) Complete assignments before the class meeting for which they are assigned
2) Bring the assigned readings and your notes about them to class
3) Demonstrate evidence of your having read the texts and films with care
4) Raise interesting questions and comments in discussion
5) Offer informed, interesting answers to others' questions and comments

When participating in class on any given day, you should be prepared for discussion by engaging actively with the readings and screenings, taking copious notes on all texts, and formulating your questions on each.

If you find something in your readings about which you are confused or curious, don't just wait until class to ask questions about it. Look up the topic on your own first; often you can find direct references to the subject in the article's own endnotes or bibliography. And by all means, share your findings with the class so we can all learn more thoroughly about the topic.

We will have several announced in-class Assignments and Paper Writing Workshops throughout the semester that will count toward your participation grade. The workshops are mandatory, and absences from them count double. If necessary, we will also have unannounced quizzes, which are designed to help you keep up with your readings, stay prepared for class, and better engage with the course material.

Late Assignments

Please note that without a letter from the dean there will be no make-up work or incompletes. Also, I strongly discourage late papers, as they will not earn you full credit for your work. For each day past the due date, your paper grade will drop by a letter grade.

Grade deductions for late papers are:

  • 1/3 of a letter grade deducted for late-but-still-during-class submission

  • 1/2 of a letter grade deducted for same-day late submission

  • one letter grade deducted for each day late thereafter

Completion and submission of all assignments are your own responsibility. For information about needs for alternate academic accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center.

Note also that your active participation and willingness to keep pace with the material in the following assignments are essential to your success in the course.

Copies and Completeness

Students must keep a copy of each out-of-class assignment until the original is returned and keep the original after that. I strongly recommend keeping paper copies in addition to the electronic files.

All exams and writing assignments must be completed in order to earn a final grade other than F.

Plagiarism & Course Policies

  • Students must abide by policies in the University Student Handbook. See Basic Undergraduate Student Responsibilities for full details. It also is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the CSU Student Code of Conduct. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated; violators will be reported and prosecuted.
  • Unless otherwise indicated by the instructor in connection with group work, all work must be individual. Evidence of collusion (working with another student or tutor) or plagiarism (use of another's ideas, data, and statements without acknowledgment and/or use of another's ideas, data and statements with only minimal acknowledgment) will be prosecuted under the procedures set up by the university for academic dishonesty. A student who commits academic misconduct will, at minimum, receive a zero on the assignment and an F for the course. The student's case will also be filed on record with Student Judicial Affairs for Academic Misconduct, which further risks probation, suspension, and/or expulsion from the university.
  • Unless otherwise noted, papers should be word-processed, double-spaced, in a standard 12 point font, and with a one-inch margin. Staple pages together in the upper left corner.
  • Please save paper. I cannot stress this enough. Do not append cover pages, folders/binders, etc. to your papers, and please try to use recycled paper. I will award extra credit to those who print multiple-page assignments double-sided. The CSU printer near the Laker Card office will print double-sided.
  • Proof-read and edit all assignments, and be sure to provide proper bibliographical citations for any sources referenced. Please use MLA style. (Refer to The MLA Handbook in the library for correct formatting.)
  • Don't waste space rephrasing questions or formulating lengthy introduction and/or conclusion sections in your assignments; you will often have a limited page allowance, so use your space wisely.
  • You must use correct grammar and spelling for all assignments, and you should always write in active voice (rather than passive voice). Always italicize or underline film and book titles, and watch your use of gendered language (e.g., do not refer to "he/him" or "man/Man" when you mean "she or he," "they," or "human"). I encourage you to use the Center for Academic Assistance; they are quite helpful.
  • Turn off cell phones, beepers, and any other distractions during class & screenings.

Course Conduct

In the course of our studies, we will be questioning deeply held beliefs and ideologies. Some students may feel uncomfortable with some of the questions we will be asking. While some of this discomfort is an expected aspect of learning, a few ground rules will help us delve into and engage with these issues and topics productively:

1) Speak respectfully to and about everyone in the class. Racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist, anti-Semitic, and other prejudiced remarks are absolutely inappropriate for our classroom discussions. This does not mean that we must be "politically correct" or refuse to comment, but remarks that stereotype people are not necessary to make your point as we analyze these issues in our classroom. Likewise, be considerate of differences among us; when we assume that everyone else is just like us (for example, when we assume that everyone shares our own religious beliefs, or that everyone can walk or see or hear), we unavoidably exclude those who are not like us-even when we think we are speaking for everyone. Part of the objective of this course is for us all (myself included) to more fully recognize our false assumptions about others and how we speak and think about others.

2) Keeping this policy of respect in mind, I encourage you to express your disagreement with anything said in the readings or in class, including anything I say. (Don't worry about your grade; you will be graded based on your knowledge of and willingness to engage with the course material, not on whether you agree with me. You can disagree with me and still earn an excellent grade in the course.) Criticize points of view, opinions, statements, behaviors, social patterns, and institutions (just avoid criticizing people.) A good strategy here is to always verbally locate yourself in your argument, and never put the other person on the defensive. For example, you might say "I think that statement is sexist because it . . ." rather than "You are sexist if you think that." The other person may then offer a rebuttal about the statement, rather than having to defend herself or himself personally.

3) Your own experiences are welcome in our discussions, but please be sure that they are relevant to the topic being discussed. This is a classroom-not a group therapy session or confessional, so please do not share any experiences that will make you feel unsafe, and keep information shared by others confidential. (If you decide to discuss this shared information outside the classroom, please omit names and other identifying characteristics of classmates.) Of course, you are in no way expected to volunteer personal information, and you should not demand it from other class members. Avoid essentializing others' experiences (or your own) based on superficial characteristics such as gender, race, etc. That is, please don't expect others to "represent" certain groups, or assume that your statements necessarily represent others. Assertions such as "Well I'm a woman/lesbian/Asian-American/etc., and so I speak for all women/etc. when I say . . ." rarely represent others at all.

4) Everyone in the class has the right to make mistakes, including the instructor. In fact, making mistakes is one of the most effective learning strategies. We are all engaged in a learning process here, so be kind to others-and to yourself-when mistakes are made.