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Communicating Expectations

Example from a Stanford University syllabus:

You are expected to be an active participant throughout the entire class and to contribute to the quality of the discussion. Please note that the frequency with which you speak in class is not a key criterion for effective class participation. The classroom should be considered a laboratory in which you can test your ability to convince your peers that you have approached complex problems correctly and that your approach will achieve the desired results.

Criteria that we use to measure effective class participation include:

  1. Is the comment clear and relevant to the current discussion?

  2. Does the student support the comment well using case facts and tools developed in the class?

  3. Does the student explore all the implications and importance of the comment?

  4. Is the comment insightful? Does it broaden the discussion and clarify the issues?

  5. Are comments complete and concise (does the comment cover the point as well as possible in a few words as possible)?

An average comment satisfies 1 and some of 2. A good comment satisfies 1-3. An excellent comment satisfies 1-5. Class participation represents a major component of your grade in this course (30%).

You might even specify a class rule: "You are not allowed to say ‘I don’t know’ in this class when asked a question. You are not required to know, but you are expected to think. So if I ask you a question and you don’t know the answer, you are responsible to think of an answer, to guess, to speculate, to wonder aloud."

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Drs. Cavanaugh 2001

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Copyright © 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008