Tagged: policies

Better late than never, I’ve posted my syllabi and assignments for the semester. While two of the courses I’m teaching this spring have the same title, Writing and Critical Inquiry, I essentially have three course preps because I’m teaching one of them, an Honors section, very differently than the other.

The Honors class is an open-ended nightmare, because I’m making the students design the course materials, down to the policies, syllabus, readings, and writing assignments. Watch it unfold here. Content will fill in as the class collectively completes it, but I hope to have a complete picture of the semester within a week or two. The sooner we work it all out, the better for students. My other 202 course is more straightforward, though I have tweaked the course considerably since last semester.

In a change from prior semesters I am rolling out major writing assignments only as they arise, and not all at the beginning of the semester. This is to keep students focused on the immediate tasks at hand and to reduce their anxiety. We’ll see if it works in either case.

This is also my very first semester at WCU not teaching a grad class. Instead I’m teaching an upper level English Lit/Liberal Studies class called Stories Retold, in which we’ll read Nicholson Baker, Colson Whitehead, Nicole Krauss, Jose Saramago, Italo Calvino, Michael Ondaatje, Magnus Mills, and related criticism.

As always, fellow instructors are free to crib whatever they like, but I always appreciate getting credit.

 Dogs Must be on a Leash

A little last minute, but policies, syllabi, and assignments have been posted.  My grad course, ENGL 610: History of Rhetoric, and my two sections of sophomore writing, ENGL 202: Writing and Critical Inquiry, are up.  In the undergrad course I’ll be framing our study of rhetoric around food issues, specifically those raised in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I’ll also be making use of other food-related media, like Will Burdette’s excellent podcast No Satiation, and Perennial Plate. And, it’s an election year, so I’m sure that political candidates will be saying plenty of asinine things for us to have fun with.

As always, feel free to crib materials, but I always appreciate attribution.

Kinky 4 Gov

A lot of the students at my institution are painfully aware of the high price of tuition, which is one of many reasons that I am amazed when students miss excessive class sessions.  I recognize that in service courses, like Writing and Critical Inquiry, student interest in the class itself is generally less than in the classes they take for their majors.  But given the sacrifices many students here make to pay their tuition, I’m always amazed when they skip class repeatedly.

While students were working on an in-class writing exercise today, I decided to crunch some numbers for them.  Western Carolina University‘s current in-state full-time tuition is $3183.50 per semester.  So, I divided that by 4, because 12 credit hours is the minimum number of hours to be full-time as an undergrad, and thinking that most classes are 3 credit hours.  So, after dividing by 4 I come up with the number $795.86, which is essentially the price they’re paying for each class.  Then I divided that number by the number of times a class meets each semester, 45 for a three times weekly class, and 30 for a twice weekly class.  This gave me a pretty exact number of what students are paying in tuition per class meeting.  Excluding fees and housing costs, if a student is taking 12 credit hours at Western Carolina University, they are paying either $26.53 or $17.67 per class, respectively, depending upon whether the class meets two or three times a week.

If a student is taking more than 12 hours–which they should, because that’s where the most value is to be found in tuition–these numbers obviously go down. For comparison, a student taking 18 hours per semester only pays $11.80 or $17.67 per class session, which shows the tremendous value of maximizing hours once you hit the full-time end of the tuition scale. Of course, if over-extending oneself causes a student to fail a class, that value is obviously lost.  It’s a balancing act between academics and finances.

I gave the students this information, showing my math.  They were a little shocked.

It would be unacceptable to most students to simply skip a $75 cello lesson or $20 yoga session or rock climbing session that they had paid in advance, and if they are aware of the numbers, they might find it just a bit more unacceptable to miss class too.

I’ve had great attendance for the most part this semester, in part because of a newly strict attendance policy, as opposed to my laissez-faire attitude of old.  But it might be worth pointing out to classes these sorts of numbers, particularly in apathetically attended service courses.  What do your students pay per class session?  Do you know? I think we as instructors should be aware of these sorts of breakdowns.  How much do you owe students every time you walk into a classroom if each of them is paying close to $20 a day, excluding additional fees, to be there?