General, Grading, and Discussion Board

HONOR CODE: By attending Mercer you have agreed to abide by the Honor Code policies of Mercer University. Honor Code violations include cheating on tests (which does not apply here), plagiarism (using another’s work without giving them credit),  having someone else do your work for you, or multiple submissions.  Please avoid any questionable practices.  If in doubt, consult the Mercer University Bulletin regarding academic honesty, or ask me. 

Communication: You are expected to be logged on to the Mercer e-mail system, the Facebook group related to your course, and the Mercer Blackboard system for out of class communication, grading updates, calendar changes, and syllabus information.  

Attendance: Attendance is critically important since what you say and what your classmates say is part of the "text" for the course. More than three absences will affect your grade as follows: a reduction from A to B+ for the fourth absence, from B+ to B for the fifth, etc. If your grade is a C in the course, absences four and five will reduce the grade to a D. Eight or more absences automatically means you fail the course. Attendance includes lectures, films, and other required outside activities. Students are responsible for the work they have missed.

Participation: Classroom discussion is the essence of my classes. To participate means not only being in attendance, but also providing thoughtful, and informed input as your part of the classroom discussion. I am looking for evidence that you have read the text carefully and thought about the issues involved. I assess your ability to contribute and listen and your moral courage in offering ideas. Our classes will be conducted with civility and thus I observe the appropriateness of your comments, and your tact and courtesy. Based on these criteria, you may earn the following points:
               Absent, not conscious, doing something else, or no text
             Some involvement, but mostly unengaged
             Present, but uninformed
             Participates, but not consistently in meaningful ways
                Participates in meaningful ways
9-10          Advances class discussion and we all benefit from your
This scale applies to discussion leaders and participants. 

And speaking of civility, leaving lectures, film presentations, performances, or discussions early will cause a reduction in your final grade.

Another note on civility: disrespectful, discourteous,  or disruptive behavior will NOT be tolerated either in class or in any discussion group. If such behavior occurs in class, I will ask you to leave and you will get a zero for the day; it such behavior occurs on any discussion posts (remember our Facebook discussion groups are for academic purposes only), I reserve the right to remove the offending student, who then gets no credit for participation.


Paper Policies: Computer/printer/software difficulties are not considered sufficient grounds for late work. Missing class is no excuse for a late paper. Students should allow ample time for their work to be completed to allow for unforeseen difficulties; that is why I have a detailed syllabus with due dates marked from the beginning of the semester. Not submitting an essay or other major work means an F in the course.

All papers are to use regular margins and fonts. Do not try to decrease the size of your paper by using larger margins and fonts. Describe your point of view; no need to summarize. Organize your thoughts around an organizing question. Support your query with evidence from the text! Take pride in your ability to think and write. Be honest in your position regarding a text and be honest in reflecting YOUR thoughts and not others. The assignment dates are noted on the calendar. Make sure your name is on each page, number the pages, and either staple or paper clip the pages together. Papers are to be error free. If a rewrite is granted it is to be submitted no later than the Friday of the week following the week the original paper is returned. There will be no exceptions! I do NOT accept papers electronically! No late papers will be accepted without my prior consent. If a student receives an F on a paper, I expect the student to come and see me. I am always willing to discuss any paper or grade with students.

Assignments must adhere to the length, format and topic matter requested to avoid grade reductions. All essays and papers must be paginated. If you are dissatisfied with a grade, please discuss it with me immediately, not later in the semester.  

Students with Disabilities:

“Students requiring accommodations for a disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible.  The instructor will refer you to the Disability Support Services Coordinator to document your disability, determine eligibility for accommodations under the ADAAA/Section 504 and to request a Faculty Accommodation Form.  Disability accommodations or status will not be indicated on academic transcripts.  In order to receive accommodations in a class, students with sensory, learning, psychological, physical or medical disabilities must provide their instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form to sign.  Students must return the signed form to the Disability Services Coordinator.  A new form must be requested each semester.  Students with a history of a disability, perceived as having a disability or with a current disability who do not wish to use academic accommodations are also strongly encouraged to register with the Disability Services Coordinator and request a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester.  For further information, please contact Carole Burrowbridge, Disability Services Coordinator, at 301-2778 or visit the Disability Support Services website at“ *

Grading Policy
 (Developed by Dr. Sarah Gardner)

A = 90-100 (Superior work – correct, insightful, creative, coherent)  

  1. Clearly and effectively states a significant thesis.
  2. Fully develops each component of the thesis, with solid (and appropriate) supporting evidence.  Shows insightful interpretation of supporting data.  Includes exceptionally relevant sources.
  3. Follows an appropriate and appealing method of organization and progresses logically.
  4. Displays unity and coherence.
  5. Is expressed clearly, precisely, and concisely.
  6. Employs a useful variety of sentence structures, matched to rhetorical strategies.
  7. Employs active verbs and active voice, and disdains wordiness or verbal crutches.
  8. Reflects consistently correct grammar, style, syntax, and proper documentation.
  9. Conclusion demonstrates a mature understanding of the subject’s significance.
  10. Shows superior originality of thought and perception.

B = 80-89 (Above Average – correct and authoritative, but conventional somewhat limited in originality or fresh perspective)  

  1. Correctly states a thesis (not exceptionally significant or insightful).
  2. Fully develops each component of the thesis with solid supporting evidence, and competently includes appropriate sources.
  3. Displays points #3-9 from “A” work.
  4. Lacks complete originality of concept or superior depth of thought, but is nonetheless authoritative and thoughtful.

C = 70-79 (Average – adequate, but flawed by errors, irrelevance, or limited scope)  

  1. States a central idea (but might not be structured effectively as a strong thesis statement).
  2. Shows some awareness of effective organization.
  3. Offers adequate supporting detail for the central idea, but might fail to develop each component fully.  Shows correct interpretation of supporting data.
  4. Contains grammatical and mechanical errors, but is free from habitual deviations from standard English.
  5. Focuses upon a conspicuous or obvious – but correct – central point.
  6. Lacks mastery of sentence form and power, but free of virulent sentence structure errors.
  7. Conclusion merely restates opening paragraph.

D = 60-69 (Below Average – errors overshadow positive qualities)  

  1. Fails to state or to stick to a central idea.
  2. Drifts significantly from a logical pattern of organization.
  3. Neglects adequate development of all major points.
  4. Contains distracting grammatical, mechanical, or sentence structure errors.
  5. Contains trite or wordy expressions.
  6. Focuses upon a flawed concept, showing serious error in the comprehension of the subject or serious errors in the use or interpretation of supporting data.
  7. Offers no conclusion.

F = Below 50 (Unacceptable)  

  1. Serious errors in any area.
  2. Fails to follow instructions.
  3. Topics or contents are completely inadequate or irrelevant.
  4. Shows academic dishonesty.

IC = Incomplete: The grade of “IC” will be given only in special circumstances, such as serious illness. 

Discussion Boards  

If the Blackboard or Facebook discussion board is included in class participation, then I expect each student to participate fully on the discussion board.  Students must offer comments, questions, and replies to the discussion question that I have posted as well as to other students’ postings.   

My role is to serve as a facilitator and moderator.  I will be reading all postings and I will participate in the discussions when appropriate.  

I will evaluate your postings by the following criteria.  Please note: standard rules for good writing apply.  Please consult the separate handout on my grading policy for additional information.  

            Responses to Original Postings:

·        Must  be made in a timely fashion so that others may respond

·        Must contain accurate information, thoughtful and insightful commentary, and allow your analytical voice to be heard

·        Must make connections to previous readings or other relevant content/situations

·        Must stimulate additional discussion  

Responses to Others’ Postings:

·        Must continue the discussion and be relevant to the topic at hand

·        Must note the points with which you agree (and why) and the points with which you disagree (and why.) 

·        Must offer an original comment to which others can reply


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