This section is intended to help you understand how and why I have designed this class as I have. If you have any concerns about how any of these methods will impact your learning, please speak with me.
What You Need for This Class
There are two required books for this class. You can purchase these through the Xavier Textbook Store or through any other retailer. You may also be able to access the books through your local library system. You can use any edition and any format of these texts.
- Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
- Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring
Other assigned readings will be made available through this web site.
How I Approach Teaching This Class
Over the past few years, I have embraced the idea of inverted teaching: I believe most of the traditional classroom activities (lecture, knowledge sharing) should take place outside of the classroom so that the very limited time we have in the classroom can be devoted to the more challenging, more meaningful, and more enjoyable forms of learning. This has also enabled me to shift my interpretation of my role in the classroom. I do not see myself as the expert who is bestowing my students with some of my knowledge. I see myself as a guide, a mentor, and a fellow learner. As a result of all this, the actual class meetings we have may seem to you poorly planned, disorganized, or even chaotic, when what they really are is active and engaging.
Another approach I am increasingly using is ungrading. Ungrading is a pedagogical method that questions the systemic use of arbitrary letters to quantify learning. Much of the work you do for this class will be “ungraded”, meaning will not be assigning a letter grade or a percentage to the work you produce. Instead, in Brightspace, I will not whether or not you completed the activity. I will also provide you with feedback on different activities throughout the semester. You will receive a letter grade for this class in BannerWeb at both midterms and at the end of the semester. This grade will be based off of the three short essays you write, the podcast project you help produce, and your own self-assessments.
Guiding Principles for This Course *
- A good course is informed by issues of equity and justice. It takes into account social, political and cultural issues — including students’ backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances — to craft a learning experience that is just.
- A good course is interactive. Courses are much more than placeholders for students to access information. A good course provides information such as readings or lecture videos, but also involves interactions between professor and students and between students and students.
- A good course is engaging and challenging. It invites students to participate, motivates them to contribute and captures their interest and attention. It capitalizes on the joy of learning and challenges students to enhance their skills, abilities and knowledge.
- A good course involves practice. Good courses involve students in “doing” — not just watching and reading — “doing again” and in applying what they learned.
- A good course is effective. Such a course identifies the skills, abilities and knowledge that students will gain by the end of it, provides activities developed to acquire them and assesses whether students were successful.
- A good course includes an instructor who is visible and active, and who exhibits care, empathy and trust for students. This individual understands that their students may have a life beyond their course.
- A good course promotes student agency. It gives students autonomy to enable opportunities for relevant and meaningful learning. Such a course redistributes power – to the extent that is possible – in the classroom.
* Adapted from “The 7 Elements of a Good Online Course” by George Veletsianos.
How You Should Approach Learning in This Class
- Workload. Our class will take place asynchronously, meaning our course does not have required synchronous (live) class sessions for you to attend. You will, however, be expected to devote an amount of time similar to what you would have spent in a lecture (about three hours per week) viewing videos, reading assigned materials, and completing class assignments for this course. In addition, you will be expected to devote time (between six and nine hours per week) to other class activities.
- Engagement. Your active engagement in this class is critical to its success and to your learning. By participating fully, you add to what the class as a whole learns and you enhance your own learning. This course requires all members of the class to participate in discussions and activities.
- Late Work. For any work with a due date, you should do your best to meet that deadline; however, if you are unable to do so, all you need to do is send me an email before the due date asking for a 24 hour extension. You do not need to include any sort of justification or excuse in this email. If, after 24 hours, you are still not able to submit the work, please schedule a time to meet with me in person or over Zoom, so we can discuss the situation and determine a more appropriate deadline.
- Decorum. Free discussion and inquiry are encouraged in this class. Although we may never meet face-to-face, everyone must do their best to interact civilly and politely. Behavior is unacceptable when it interferes with another student’s ability to learn.