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Featured How many of your students actually read the course syllabus?

  1. Sep 13, 2017 #61
    I have to agree with this post. The fact that educators have the power to do all of this appears to be amiss to me. My English teacher made a rule on her syllabus that she marks students for being even one minute late to class. However, she never enforced this rule. She herself came in two minutes late to class one time. Never mind the fact that most workplaces give a person a grace period.

    If she really did decide to enforce the rule, students couldn't do anything about it.
  2. Sep 13, 2017 #62


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    With regard to houlahound's post that you quoted, the instructor is usually not the sole arbiter of the course content, structure, scope, and purpose. Normally, the course won't be too far from the same course as taught by other members of the department. As far as grading standards, those are typically up to the instructor. If the standards for a particular course section are really out of whack, students can (and usually will) complain to the department chairman. If too many students complain, the instructor's supervisor will most likely take a closer look at that particular instructor's methods.

    houlahound seems (or rather, seemed, since he is now banned) to be under the impression that the classroom is a democracy, with everyone, including the instructor, having an equal vote. IMO, that isn't and shouldn't be the case. What qualifies the instructor to set up the course a particular way is some expertise in the area covered in the course, expertise that the students don't have.

    Regarding your Englilsh instructor, I doubt that there are many department chairs who would fault her for enforcing a tardiness policy. Inasmuch as she didn't enforce the policy and was late once herself detracts from having such a policy -- it just points out some hypocrisy on her part for being late. As to the policy itself, maybe it was intended to be only a threat, to encourage students to come to class on time.

    I'm not sure that "most workplaces" give a person a grace period. Many years ago I was disciplined at a factory job I had for coming in late; namely, I was transferred to a much less desirable place in the plant, with much less desirable hours. Just a few days ago, I was talking with a friend who works for Seattle Metro. He mentioned that it was impossible for him to take the bus to work (Metro is the bus company in Seattle), because the erratic bus schedule would cause him to be late to work, which would trigger disciplinary action.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  3. Sep 13, 2017 #63
    When I flipped burgers at Wendy's (high school and college), the standing instruction was to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled shift to attend to preliminaries (storing stuff in break area, getting uniform into compliance, signing the time card) so that one could begin the shift on time and ready. Employees who were late (not ready to begin the shift exactly on time) had their hours reduced.

    When I was a math prof at the United States Air Force Academy, we were absolutely expected to be in class early and ready to start every class right on time. We were training officers and setting a good example was not optional. Likewise, it was required that we report all unexcused cadet (student) absences and tardiness in a centralized system that gave immediate notice to the cadet's military chain of command. The US taxpayer was paying (roughly) $100,000 each year to educate these students, and there were systems in place to ensure they received maximum benefit from the investment. Should expectations be lower for the future stewards of our weapons of war?

    On the rare occasions where a prof needed to be absent or late, it was absolutely required to arrange another teacher in the course to be there on time in our place or (failing that) to inform the course director soon enough so they could make the necessary arrangements. The expectations for my wife were similar when she taught in the West Point Physics department.
  4. Sep 14, 2017 #64
    Similar story: Years ago I was a "manager trainee" at a chain of locally-owned stores in the Dominos Pizza franchise system. There was an ironclad rule for all trainees & all managers: never ever be late opening a store. The store opened exactly at the designated time, ready to serve customers, or you were fired (obviously there were provisions for sickness or emergency, provided you notified in time). And I know this rule was enforced, because I once arrived at the store I was training at to find my manager sitting there by himself quite glum; he had been late opening the day before & had just gotten word he was fired & a replacement manager was on the way over. The rule was understood & respected by all because it was about serving the customer as promised.

    One side effect is that it trained me to expect the same standard of other stores & operations. Even now, 35 years later, I use it as a mini-yardstick to judge the commitment of a retail store or other operation to customers: do they respect my time enough to be on time themselves? I was once shopping for a particular imported guitar amplifier. Only one store had it locally, about a 45 minute drive from me. I was there at opening time, the owner was not. He arrived 15 minutes or so late & it seemed this was usual for him. He demo'd the amp for me; we talked a bit about guitars & amps & servicing them; and from other things he said, it became clear his lateness in opening extended to other sloppy business practices & an implicit contempt for some of his customers. So I walked away from buying from him & eventually bought the amp from an online store.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  5. Sep 17, 2017 #65


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    During a discussion about what to include on a syllabus, one instructor related a conversation he had with a representative from one of the local employers. The rep noted that the company had recently cut back on hiring new grads because many turned out to be poor employees. The new hires didn't seem to understand that getting to places on time mattered, that not paying attention and texting during meetings wasn't acceptable, that meeting deadlines was important, etc. He noted instructors weren't doing students any favors by not setting some basic rules and expecting students to meet them.

    A colleague of mine likes to point out that students expect the instructor to show up on time. Why should students be held to a lesser standard?

    Typically, these class policies aren't meant for the student who comes in late one day because her car wouldn't start. It's for those students who chronically think it's okay to wander into class 10 to 20 minutes late every single time.
  6. Sep 17, 2017 #66


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    The discussion is drifting some as in post #64 and #65. Along that line of drift, there was a college class of which the instructor was absent for at least 6 class meetings during a semester term, for medical reasons. You would hope or think that the department would put in a substitute instructor to patch those absenses, but NO SUBSTITUTE TEACHER WAS EVER ASSIGNED and the six class meetings were cancelled instead. Any responsibility, or accountability, for any syllabus for this?
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