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Department of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences

Choate Rosemary Hall

Wallingford, Connecticut

A CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO THE COURSE:
Academic Policies

Mr. Ned Gallagher


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Daily Preparation
Classroom Work
Written Work

Contact Information
Johnson Athletic Center #105
Memorial House #114

voice: 203-350-9612

preferred e-mail:


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

- Aristotle


Daily Preparation

Assigned Reading:

This is the main input of factual material, as well as various interpretations and analyses of that material. Clearly you cannot learn much in the classroom without doing the reading first. Much of our discussion in class will be conducted in a Socratic discussion; that is, you will complete certain assignments and will be expected to answer questions based on them. It is therefore important that you learn how to understand the material before you come to class. Looking at it another way, we will not have enough time in class to cover all the things that might appear on tests, so you had better learn them by yourself.

Course credo:
I hear, and I forget;
I see, and I remember;
I do, and I understand.
- Chinese proverb

Like athletes in training, young scholars must be sure they are properly nourished. As the reading you do for this course will be your primary "food for thought," you should pay close attention to how this nourishment is being ingested. You may find--like the decathlete weaned on junk food--that easy shortcuts will undermine your efforts when the moment of truth arrives. Assigned reading will provide focal points for daily discussion. I will try to give you pointers in advance of what to look for in the reading to enable you to get more out of it. Get into the habit of reading the syllabus carefully each night before you begin the assignment.


Classroom Work

Lectures:

This method will be used sparingly, as generally it removes the burden of active learning from the student, emphasizing a more passive role instead. Because, however, much of the information in the course will be new to you, I will provide background information when relevant to highlight material and to fill in gaps left by the reading. For the most part, however, I will "lecture" only in the sense of guiding class discussion.

Discussions:

The core of the course consists of the Socratic discussions in class, in which we will explore the reading and the topics at hand. Productive discussions are frequently contradictory and ambiguous, producing different perspectives to chew on rather than kernels of truth to swallow whole. Asking seemingly stupid questions may well be a way of overcoming confusion and beginning to understand. Each person will be expected to come to his or her own understanding of the processes involved. Such activity is not without a considerable degree of intellectual risk, but it is hoped that in the discussions you will be willing to take such risks for the very real intellectual gains which will accrue both to you and to the group as a whole.
     Since the main learning in the course comes from the reading and discussions, you should attend class and be prepared to discuss the reading. If you do neither, do not be surprised to feel you are learning little, wasting your time, or receiving a poor or failing grade, for you are not--in any meaningful sense--taking the course. You cannot learn much simply by writing the papers and taking the exams. Nor can you pass the course; final grades will be based on a combination of class and written work.

Oral Presentations:

There will be regular opportunities in this course to share your ideas about the subject matter with the rest of the class on a more formal basis. While academia emphasizes the written word, most "real world" situations are centered on oral/aural interaction; hence the emphasis on developing skills in face-to-face communication. Debates, reports, role playing, and other activities will be evaluated in a manner similar to the grading of written work.

Decorum and Civility:

Mutual respect and cooperation, during the time we spend together each week and the time you work on group assignments, are the basis for successful conduct of this course. The class is a learning community that depends on respect, cooperation, and communication among all of us. This includes coming to class on time, prepared for each dayís work: reading and assignments complete, focusing on primary classroom activity, and participating. It also includes polite and respectful expression of agreement or disagreement--with support for your point of view and arguments--with other students and with the teacher. It does not include arriving late or leaving early, or behavior or talking that distracts other students. Please turn off all telephones, beepers, electronic devices, etc. If you have your laptop or tablet with you in class, I prefer you use it only occasionally to look up something related to our conversation rather than constantly surfing the Web or--even worse--checking your e-mail or Facebook or chatting with friends.

 


Written Work

     It is in your writing that you have the chance to work out your ideas most rigorously and to communicate these to others. I will give you some general notes on writing later, but I encourage students who would like to work on their writing to see me, to submit drafts of their papers for criticism in advance of their due dates, or to consider rewriting papers. In the meantime, the following are some general guidelines regarding written work in the course.

Quizzes:

These serve two primary purposes. They are, of course, an insurance policy of sorts, whereby I, the teacher, can better expect you to have put in the requisite effort on assigned reading. More importantly, however, they are also a channel of feedback on how well you understand the material presented in the reading and in class. You can expect quizzes frequently, usually unannounced.

Exams:

These are reflective and integrative, designed to help you pull together main themes in the course. Depending on length, exams generally include objective questions, separate short definition or identification questions, and longer interpretive essays. All tests will demand not only that you know what has been studied just recently, but that you be able to connect that material in a general thematic way with what was studied earlier in the year. Each exam will be an important opportunity for me to assess your mastery of the knowledge and the skills the course seeks to develop. More importantly, an exam should be considered a worthwhile educational experience in its own right. A comprehensive final examination will be administered at the end of the term.

Make-up tests:

In the event of an excused absence on the day of a scheduled exam, a mutually convenient date for a make-up test will be determined by the teacher and the student. It is the student's responsibility to reschedule and take the make-up exam within five (5) days of the original scheduled test date. Make-up exams may be given in essay form.

Short Papers:

Papers on set topics keyed to assigned reading are designed to encourage you to work out your understanding of a given problem. As such, there are no "right" answers, only how well you think your way through the problem as evidenced by the clarity and logic of your analysis, argumentation, and writing. All papers should include footnotes and bibliography when appropriate, and be presented in standard form, all of which is discussed in forthcoming handouts. Word processing is highly recommended if possible; if not, typed papers are always appreciated, though not required.

Position Papers:

Each term, some students express an interest in "extra-credit" work. While I generally discourage this approach--I would prefer you to concentrate on doing your best work on the scheduled quizzes, tests, and papers--I will welcome brief position papers, dealing with anything related to the course, in consideration for "brownie points." I will not put a firm grade or value on such work, which will be returned to you with my comments, but I can state that submission of position papers only can help in the determination of your final term grade.

Formatting Papers:

All work that is turned in for evaluation should be typed, double-spaced, with margins of no more than 1 inch on all sides; printed in 10 or 12 point font in a legible typeface. Be sure that your toner allows you to produce clear copies. Follow page or word limits and meet deadlines. Follow any specific assignment requirements (formatting or endnotes or bibliography, for example). Your name and the course number should appear at top of 1st page. Number the pages. Give your papers a title. Use footnotes and endnotes as necessary and use them appropriately according to the style guide of your major field. Proofread carefully and use a spelling and/or grammar checking program. Your writing should be gender neutral as well as clear and to the point. If you have a problem, see me, if at all possible, in advance of due dates. Unacceptable work will be returned, ungraded.

Submission of Papers:

Due dates for all major written assignments are announced in the syllabus at the outset of the term; time is allowed for working on them whenever possible and you should program your time accordingly (e.g., writing a paper before it is due if necessary to avoid conflicts with other work). Papers are due at the start of the class period indicated on the syllabus. Late work will be accepted, but, in the interest of fairness to all, it will be penalized one notch ("A-" to "B+") for the first 24-hour period it is overdue, two notches for the second, and so on. Only in extreme cases will late work be accepted more than five days after it is due. School policy dictates that late work accepted after the last day of classes in the term can receive a grade of no more than 50%.
     The ONLY acceptable ways to submit papers in this course are: (a) hand it to me in class; (b) enclose it as an e-mail attachment--Microsoft Word or a text file, please; or (c) leave it with my secretary in the athletic department office. NEVER leave your paper in one of my mailboxes or slip it under the door of my office or my apartment.

Grading and Criticism:

Grading of papers and exams will be based on the quality and thoroughness of your research (where appropriate), the originality and coherence of your analysis and argumentation, and the clarity of your writing. While all written work should be your own, in accord with the school expectations regarding academic honesty, you are encouraged to discuss your work with me and with each other if you wish. You are also encouraged to respond to my criticisms of your work and to discuss ways in which you might improve your writing with me, including rewriting and resubmitting papers where appropriate.
     More important than the actual grade you receive is my written commentary on your paper. I hope you will pay close attention to the comments made on the evaluation sheet and in the body of the text; they are written in hopes of improving both your writing and your thinking. These comments can refer to your specific strengths and weaknesses as a historian and as a writer in ways that a simple number or letter grade cannot.
     I hope you will feel free to share with me any questions or concerns about any particular grade; I also hope, however, that you are genuinely concerned with what you learn in the course rather than the mark (or other such superficial feedback) you get. For the sake of uniformity, the school has established a guide to converting scores on a 100-point scale to grades ranging from A+ to F:

A+: 97-100
B+: 87-89
C+: 77-79
D+: 67-69
A: 93-96
B: 83-86
C: 73-76
D: 63-66
F: 0-59
A-: 90-92
B-: 80-82
C-: 70-72
D-: 60-62

Academic Honesty:

Scholastic integrity is expected and required. It is a major part of academic life at Choate and beyond. All work submitted for this class must be your own. Copying or representing the work of anyone else--in print or from another student--is plagiarism and cheating. This includes the unacknowledged word-for-word use and/or paraphrasing of another personís work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas. This is unacceptable in this class and prohibited by the school. All cases of suspected plagiarism, in accordance with school rules, must be reported to the Deans Office.