Grading Policies

Grading in my courses are generally as follows:

Your final exam grade is worth 70% to 80% of your overall grade. 70% if I have a 10% writing assignment or combination assignments, 80% if I do not. I would like to leave this flexibility in the schedule so that we can possibly do something that might be a little extra fun, or to explore a particular interest that the class may develop.

Your Class Participation will equal 10% of your overall grade.

Your Blog Participation will equal 10% of your overall grade.

Class Participation plus Blog Participation equals Overall Participation, and the policies for each are identical.

Overall Participation

  1. Exceptional participation in either department can slightly make up for a deficiency in the other. So, if you are a “quiet person,” you may want to hit the blog very effectively.
  2. Nevertheless, if you never participate in class, but you have an A++ blog history, the best you will do is 11 or maybe 12 points for Overall Participation (and vice versa). You are training to be lawyers. I expect you to be able to be able to both speak and write effectively.
  3. Not everyone can get an A. The school imposes a curve. The good news? There are always people who refuse to speak in class and refuse to participate on the blog until the final week of class. Guess what? They will probably soak up a lot of the “C” and “D” grades (as well as a lot of my time after grades come out asking “why did I only get a “C”?)
  4. My grading process is transparent and as blind as possible. When I was in law school, the grading was downright crooked. I hated that. If you think that cozying up to the professor will be good for your grades, I can give you a list of some of my favorite former students who got a D in my class. I have taken as many steps as possible to remove myself from the grading process. That includes multiple choice exams and having an independent party review your blog participation.

Here are the particulars of how I calculate the discretionary portions of your grades.

Class Participation

  1. How often you participate in class.
  2. The quality of your participation – when you participated.
  3. There may be additional assignments that will affect your class participation grade
  4. The degree of collegiality and respect shown to your colleagues during participation.
  5. Class participation can help you AND hurt you. If you are going to participate, you don’t need to be right all the time, nor even often. However, participation that is disrespectful to the class, participation that shows you have not prepared, and unhelpful participation will not affect your class participation grade in a positive manner. I am looking for professionalism and insightfulness in your participation. Gunners (in the pejorative sense) will not find their class participation grade to be to their liking, but neither will the silent.

Blog Participation

  1. Comments of 500 words or less on the class blog that are helpful to the class will be worth 10% of your grade.
  2. You may make as many comments per week as you like. However, you will only receive credit for up to two comments in any given week. The real goal of the blog comments is to help you internalize and think about the material on an ongoing basis. Cramming comments does not help you with that, nor does going back to comment on old subjects . I will have random cut-off dates for participation grading throughout the semester. They will not be pre-announced. Therefore, you should consider every day to be a possible cut-off date.
  3. I expect to see at least 5 well thought out comments, with links to other sources, posted over the course of the semester by each of you. Less than 5 that will result in a bad Blog Participation grade. , but sheer volume of comments will not get you a good grade either.
  4. You must sign each comment with your first and last name. If you prefer to use another identifier, like a screen name, you may discuss with me.
  5. Spelling and grammar counts – big time.
  6. As noted above, when grading, I will have an independent party review your blog participation and write down proposed grades. I will then read and grade your blog participation myself. If the proposed grade and my grade differ, it is my policy to give the HIGHER grade to my students, unless there is a strong legal deficiency in your participation that my independent evaluator missed. So far, that has never happened.

Global Participation Guidelines

Plagiarized/borrowed from here (well, since I attribute it, its not plagiarism per se).

These guidelines apply to both blog posting and class discussion.

Outstanding Contributor: Contributions in class/blog reflect exceptional preparation. Ideas offered are always substantive, provide one or more major insights as well as direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and persuasively presented. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished markedly. If this describes you, expect 9 to 10 points for participation.

Good Contributor: Contributions in class or on blog reflect thorough preparation. Ideas offered are usually substantive, provide good insights and sometimes direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and often persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished. If this describes you, expect 6 to 8 points.

Adequate Contributor: Contributions reflect satisfactory preparation. Ideas offered are sometimes substantive, provide generally useful insights but seldom offer a new direction for the discussion. Challenges are sometimes presented, fairly well substantiated, and are sometimes persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished somewhat.If this describes you, expect 4 to 5 points

: This person says little or nothing in class. Hence, there is not an adequate basis for evaluation. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would not be changed.If this describes you, expect a 1 to 3 for participation.

Unsatisfactory Contributor: Contributions in class reflect inadequate preparation. Ideas offered are seldom substantive, provide few if any insights and never a constructive direction for the class. Integrative comments and effective challenges are absent. Disrespect to the class falls in this category. If this person were not a member of the class, valuable air-time would be saved and the learning experience of all would be enhanced. If this describes you, you should expect an 0 in class participation.

If you want to understand why class and blog participation matters, watch this:

(Thanks to Dave Copeland for bringing this to my attention)


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