Soc 626 Assignments and Grading

Assignment Date Due File Weight Comments
Participation, feedback ongoing 10% lecture comments in class
Test #1 October 25 15%
Test #2 December 11 15%
Book report #1 September 27 Book Report 15%*
Do Interview Sept 25 Interview Post Interviews to discussion board at Learn@UW
Write interview assignment October 18 Interview 15%*
Book report #2 November 8 Book Report 15%*
Book report #3 November 29 Book Report 15%*
Final essay December 20 distributed later 15%*
“Motivated questions” & reading notes ongoing I am figuring a way to give test credit for this, stay tuned.

Grading Notes

(1) With prior approval, you may substitute a major research paper or project for the three book reports. This option is available only if you have filed a full paper proposal with a reading list and research plan by the time the first book report is due, October 18. It is also possible to substitute a smaller empirical project for the third book report.

(2) Graduate Students, Honors Students, and others who wish to propose an alternate grading scheme with different assignments and a greater mix of professional journal articles as substitutes for the text book readings should give me their proposed grading schemes and a synopsis of their proposed “big project” by September 27.

(3) Optional Reading Notes to Bolster Test Grades. The test will be designed to assess major concepts in readings and lectures, and to apply those concepts to problems. Each reading assignment (chapter) in the Goodwin and Jasper book counts as 1, each chapter in Meyer or journal article counts as 2. (1 point items are under 10 pages, 2 point items are longer). If you turn in notes that demonstrate that you have done the reading BEFORE it is discussed in class, you get credit for it. You can EITHER hand the notes in to the journal folders at the beginning of class (typed or handwritten is ok) OR upload them to the drop box on learn@UW. Credit for this starts with 9/18, with some adjustment if you don’t start before 9/20. This will be counted twice: all the readings before test 1, and again all the readings before test 2. For each group, I will calculate the proportion (p) of all possible reading points for which you turned in notes in advance. This will be turned into a grade with the formula: G=8.4p – 4.2. This formula gives a grade of 4.2 (A+) if p=1 (i.e. 100% of the points), 3.36 (AB-) if you get 90% of the points, 2.52 (BC) if you get 80% of the points, and 0 if you get 50% of the points; below 50% it generates a negative number. That is, this will help your grade ONLY if you do reading notes for a large majority of the articles.

If your reading notes grade is higher than your test grade, your revised test grade will equal .6 times your reading notes grade + .4 times your test grade. So, for example, if you have an A (4) on reading notes and earn a C (2) on the test, the formula would give you a 4(.6)+3(.4)=3.2 (B+) as your revised test grade.

What to write for reading notes: You get credit if it is clear you actually read the reading through to the end. The best way to do this is to say what you think the main point(s) of the reading is/are and then give a few examples or details from the beginning, middle and end of the reading. It can be bullet points rather than complete sentences, if that is easier for you. In general, you should assume that it takes at least 100 words per article to do this. For example, this paragraph is exactly 100 words long.

(4) Benchmarking participation: (a) If you are always in class and make journal comments but don’t contribute to discussions or make discussion board posts, that is a B for participation. Things that raise your participation grade: talking in class, posting either pre- or post-class comments on the learn@UW discussion board, giving “extra” evidence of engagement in the class via lecture comments. (b) You can’t participate when you are not present, so days in which you are absent would be zeroes for participation unless, of course, there are circumstances beyond your control. Two absences a term don’t count against you, but more do. So, for example, if your participation is A-level when you are present but you are absent half the time, your overall participation grade would be a C. (c) Giving long speeches or monopolizing class air time does not raise your participation grade. There are about 30 students in the class and I do a lot of the talking a lot of the time, so an average of a couple of questions or remarks per class is fine. Or if you really hate speaking in public, you can write posts on the discussion board. Comments to me in the journals are good, too, although it can help everyone’s learning if you share them with the class. (d) Discussion-board posts will count as part of the participation grade. I very much appreciate pre-class posts about things from the reading that seem worthy of discussion, either because they are interesting or because they need to be explained. You do not have to write “deep” questions or long ones. Shallow or obvious questions are also very helpful to me in preparing class.

(5) Each course element (papers, tests) will be graded on a standard 4-point scale (A=4, AB=3.5, B=3 etc.), and the course grade will be calculated as the weighted average of these grades. Guideline grading standards for written work: A=AB + unusually good, very well-written, uses sociological theory with insight and deep understanding; AB=B + well-written, uses sociological theory correctly and with understanding; B=BC + acceptable writing, uses sociological theory without major errors; BC=C+ no major writing problems, attempts to use sociological theory; C=does the assignment completely (but no theory); D=assignment done partially or with grave errors; F=assignment less than half done or fraudulent (if fraudulent, an academic misconduct charge will also be filed).

(6) Extra credit. You may raise your grade by doing extra book reports, analytic article summaries, or empirical projects. Extra work will be rewarded in two ways. First, only the best four grades for these will count in your average. Second, if you have done all the required work for the class, each “extra” activity that is of C quality or better directly adds .2 to your final course grade average (i.e. if your average is 3.2, one extra activity would make it a 3.4, raising you from a B+ to an AB) up to a maximum of +.6.. Extra work cannot compensate for missing an exam or failing to do the final essay. As a matter of policy, I qualitatively examine all grades within +/- .05 of a cutting point and make a judgment about which grade is most just. For example, the cutting point between an A and an AB is 3.75, so I examine all averages between 3.7 and 3.8 and make a qualitative judgment about whether the higher or lower grade more fairly represents your overall performance in the course. In addition, I reserve the right to raise grade distributions if it appears I have been grading too harshly. I also reserve the right to raise the grade of a student who is being pulled down by one low grade on an assignment actually done or who shows significant improvement through the semester.