This class is about sharing ideas, thinking collaboratively, and learning from one another as much as from texts and the professor. Student participation is necessary to keep the course going, and it makes up 10% of your grade. We’ll be talking about difficult, sensitive, and complex material in this class, and ground rules for everyone’s participation will be important. We’ll create specific ground rules for our class together on the first day, but here are some general ones::

Participation does not mean dominating discussion or talking for the sake of talking. It means engaging in active listening, asking questions when you have them, making thoughtful and articulate comments when you think of them, and putting the work in so that if you are called on, you will be able to respond.

If you are shy, it means stepping up and challenging yourself to speak when you have an idea or a question. If you are outgoing, it means stepping back when you have had your say and letting the conversation open up to others. It means giving the person who is speaking your full attention and treating everyone in the room with respect even when you disagree with them. See the Accessibility and Discussion page for more.

At the end of the semester, you will evaluate your participation by filling out a confidential form in which I’ll ask you to recall contributions that you and others have made over the semester. Your regular blog posts will help you with this reflection, but it’s a good idea to note down any especially memorable moments so that you can refer back to them at the end of the semester.

Participation includes attendance; in a weekly class as small as this one, absences are keenly felt. If you have to be absent, let me know as soon as you can, and make sure you connect with your classmates to learn about what you missed.