General, Grading, and Discussion Board

The Honor System

Academic integrity at Mercer University is maintained through the Honor System.  The Honor System imposes on each student the responsibility for his or her own honest deportment and assumes the corollary responsibility that each student will report any violations of the honor code about which he or she has information.

Academic Honesty

Mutual trust is a basic component of any community.  Mercer University expects students, as members of the academic community, to take seriously their positions in that community.  Students are expected to ensure the continuance of trust among themselves and between them and the faculty by accepting responsibility for their own work.  The University considers breaches of this trust and responsibility to be serious offenses.

Academic offenses include the taking of credit for or unfair use of work that has been done by another person.  This includes plagiarism, cheating, and other acts of dishonesty in academic areas.

Plagiarism is defined as the use of ideas, facts, phrases, quotations, reproductions, or additional information, such as charts or maps, from any source without giving proper credit to the original author.  Failure to reference any such material used is both ethically and legally improper.

Cheating includes the use of textbooks, notes, or other reference materials on a test, daily quiz, or other examination when not specifically permitted by the professor; copying ideas or facts from another student's paper during a test, quiz or other examination; giving or receiving ideas orally or in writing during a test, quiz or other examination; obtaining test questions that the professor has not released for reference prior to the test; and obtaining or giving specific information that appears on a test before the test is administered.

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.

Your cell phones will be off and face down if they are out in view.

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 and stapled or paper clipped. If you are dissatisfied with a grade, please discuss it with me immediately, not later in the semester.  

Section 504 and the ADA

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Mercer University is committed to providing persons with disabilities, who are otherwise qualified, an equal opportunity to access a Mercer education through the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations and support services.

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability will, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity offered by an educational institution receiving federal funding. With respect to post-secondary educational services, "otherwise qualified" means "a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the educational program or activity whether with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices; the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids and services."  

As required by law, students requiring accommodations for a disability must initially self-identify as a student with a disability by registering with Disability Services (DS). Only students who are registered with DS will be eligible to request accommodations and be recognized by the institution as a student with a disability. Accommodations are approved by the Disability Services Coordinator or a Disability Petition Committee on a case-by-case basis and may require additional or updated medical documentation to be submitted.


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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