Assessment and expectations

This basic rubric describes my interpretation of the Marking System in UMCP’s Undergraduate Catalog. Detailed expectations for each graded element of the course can be found in the online syllabus.

A range (A+, A, A-): Denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship. A-range work is likely to be described as: deeply thought through; nuanced; complex but not confusing; comprehensively researched; fully understands key ideas and casts new light on them.

B range (B+, B, B-): Denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship. B-range work is likely to be described as: interesting; well researched; solid understanding of key concepts; clearly expressed, but sometimes missing out on complexity, or complex but becoming a little confusing at times; fairly thoughtful.

C range (C+, C, C-): Denotes acceptable mastery of the subject. C-range work is likely to be described as: interesting but not fully thought through; confusing; research that is barely sufficient; simplistic understanding of key concepts; frequent factual or mechanical errors.

D range (D+, D, D-): Denotes borderline understanding of the subject. It denotes marginal performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress towards a degree. D-range work is likely to be described as: insufficiently researched; poorly thought through; misunderstanding key concepts; failing to meet all requirements of the assignment; difficult to understand due to writing, formatting, or technical errors.

F grade: Denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance. F work is likely to be described as: failing to meet any basic requirements of the assignment; plagiarized or absent research; very difficult to read due to writing, formatting, or technical errors.

Grade percentage ranges (will be rounded at professor’s discretion):
A+ 98-100 / A 93-97 / A- 90-92
B+ 87-89 / B 83-86 / B- 80-82
C+ 77-79 / C 73-76 / C- 70-72
D+ 67-69 / D 63-66 / D- 60-62
F 0-60

Classroom participation and in-class media
You are required to be present, punctual, prepared, and ready to engage in every scheduled class session. Bring the texts under discussion every day, in print or electronic format, and make sure you have read them carefully. You are welcome to bring your laptop or tablet, but please use it to participate: to access readings and the class blog and Twitter stream, or to find information that will add to the discussion. This is a small seminar, and everyone’s experience is diminished if even one person is tuned out; please respect your colleagues and try to stay present.   In general, know yourself: if you won’t be able to resist the internet’s siren call, turn off your wireless or take notes on paper.

In a seminar setting, everyone’s participation is necessary – and in order to participate, you have to be present. However, I know that sometimes things happen that affect our schedules in ways we can’t control. Therefore, you can miss one class without giving a reason and I will count it as if you had a documented excuse. After the second unexcused absence, you will lose 10% of your participation grade for every absence. Tardiness of more than 15 minutes counts for half an absence. When you miss class or are late, it is your responsibility to catch up by asking a classmate for notes from discussion and catching up on reading. You are also always welcome to stop by my office hours and discuss the readings for the day that you missed.

If you have an excused absence for medical, disability, or religious reasons, and you contact me before you return to class, I will allow you to write an additional blog post as a make-up for your absence. See the participation policy for more details.

It is the University of Maryland’s policy that students are expected to inform the instructor in advance of medically necessary absences, and present a self-signed note documenting the date of the missed class(es) and testifying to the need for the absence. This note must include an acknowledgement that (a) the information provided is true and correct, and (b) that the student understands that providing false information to University officials is a violation of Part 9(h) of the Code of Student Conduct. The university’s policies on medical and other absences can be found at:

Prolonged absence or illness preventing attendance from class requires written documentation from the Health Center and/or health care provider verifying dates of treatment when student was unable to meet academic responsibilities.

Absence due to religious observance will not be penalized, however, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor within the first 3 weeks of class regarding any religious observance absence(s) for the entire semester. The calendar of religious holidays can be found at:

Email and web
You must check your university email every day, as I will email with announcements of any last minute changes etc, including what to do if we have a class cancellation due to inclement weather etc. The course website, at, is where class material will be hosted, and it is vital that you check before every class. You will also be posting to the website regularly. Make sure that you are logged in when you visit the website, as much important material is only available to registered students. Your username is your last name, and your initial password is hdcc208; make sure to change your password after your initial login.

There is a shared document on the class website for notes (logged in students only), which you can use in class or outside. This is also a place where you can post questions, comments, or observations that may be useful to your fellow students. We may use it for some of our in-class exercises.

You are always welcome to email me with questions ( I will aim to respond within 24 hours (48 if you email over the weekend). I expect the same turnaround time when I email you. My answers in email are likely to be short; if you have something you want to discuss in more depth, I prefer that you make an appointment to see me in office hours.

Assignments turned in late will lose points equal to one letter grade per day unless you have been given an extension. If you think you are likely to have problems meeting a deadline, always talk to me in advance. I make decisions about extensions on a case by case basis, but if I can see that you are managing your time as best you can in the face of adverse circumstances, I am more likely to offer you some leeway. If you miss a deadline, turn in the assignment to the best of your ability as soon as you can for partial credit.

Course evaluations
Course evaluations are a part of the process by which the University of Maryland seeks to improve teaching and learning. Your participation in this official system is critical to the success of the process, and all information submitted to CourseEvalUM is confidential. (Instructors can only view group summaries of evaluations and cannot identify which submissions belong to which students.)