This course is a seminar, which means that your learning largely comes out of the conversations we have in class and the writing, creating, and editing activities we collaborate on. During online days, you will collaborate with your workshop groups to write, critique, and revise your assignments. Your active participation will make the course successful. By active participation, I mean:


  • Coming to class having completed the reading, taken notes, and highlighted key points. Completing all other assignments on time.
  • Listening respectfully to your peers and taking notes on important questions and claims.
  • Speaking in full-class discussions almost every day: contributing your interpretation of the text, questions about related concepts, clarification of another student’s idea, and disagreement (with supporting evidence). Most learning comes out of disagreement and confusion, so your differing viewpoint is welcome. Make sure to disagree respectfully and to offer evidence to support your claims.
  • Offering careful and thorough feedback to your peers during in-class workshops.
  • Communicating with your workshop group, including everyone in your group, and advocating for your own learning.



  • Blog Post Responses (50 points): We will begin each class (both face-to-face and online) with a short blog post that you will read and respond to in the comment section. Often, these posts will ask you to reflect on your reading and prepare for in-class conversation. These responses will shape our conversation in class, and will be most productive when they are specific, focused, and arise from a genuine point of interest, confusion, or contention. You always have the option to post your comment as a response to another student’s comment. During online course days, blog posts will provide detailed instructions for your workshop group meeting, and you will post a reflection or deliverable as a comment on the post. Blog comments must be posted by 11:59 pm on the day of class. Late comments will not be accepted, and each missing comment will result in a two-point deduction from 50 possible points.
  • Face-to-face Discussion Participation (20 points): This is a course about communication, including speaking in public. A key component of your learning will take place when you practice speaking in class, so I encourage you to speak out, even if it is a bit uncomfortable to do so. The rubric below provides detailed guidelines for successful class participation. A-level participation will earn you 20 points, B-level participation will earn you 15 points, C-level participation will earn you 10 points, and D-level participation will earn you 5 points. We will occasionally conduct seminar-style conversations via Piazza and/or a shared Google Doc, where you will be able to participate in writing. You may also meet with me during office hours and/or email me with your thoughts on the class discussion to supplement your in-class comments. If you are very chatty, try to limit your comments to five per class.
  • Respectful treatment of your fellow classmates and me. You are encouraged to express your ideas, but your claims will be most compelling and productive if you articulate them with respect for everyone in the classroom and for the authors and artists we discuss. We will occasionally discuss controversial topics, and students may strongly disagree with one another or with course readings. Our goal is to develop more knowledge and a deeper understanding of both our course theme and the complexities of communication. To achieve this goal, we must each be willing to encounter challenging ideas, take other viewpoints seriously, and demonstrate how evidence supports our beliefs.
  • As part of your participation assessment, I will ask you to write one short self-assessment in class during the first half of the semester. Self-assessments will not be graded, but will contribute to my evaluation of your participation grade. Failure to submit self-assessments on time will result in an automatic deduction of five points from your participation grade.
  • Successful participation in your workshop group (20 points), which will remain consistent throughout the semester. Successful participation includes offering thorough, honest, respectful feedback on your group members’ writing according to worksheets and guidelines I will provide. More than a cursory read-through that points out typos and says the draft could “flow more,” your feedback must address the argument, structure, and rhetorical situation in specific detail. Additionally, successful participation includes paying attention to small-group conversations, contributing ideas in brainstorming sessions, and responding to group communication outside of class promptly. Your participation in workshop groups will be assessed based on your reflections in Blog Post comments and your participation self-assessment. If you find your workshop group struggling to communicate or work together, please arrange to meet with me to discuss strategies for improvement as soon as possible.
  • Attending office hours (10 points): I will meet with each workshop group via Google Hangouts during some online sessions.  In addition to these meetings, you are also required to schedule a meeting with me, either in-person or via Google Hangouts, at least once this semester. These meetings will help you strengthen your understanding of course concepts and offer you practice in communication that will come in handy later in your academic and professional lives. To earn the full 10 points for attending office hours, you must participate at least once in our online workshop group meeting and schedule an additional meeting with me at least once this semester. My office hours are 3:00-5:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays; you can also schedule a meeting at another time during regular business hours. My office is Room 323 Skiles, and my Google account is To schedule a meeting, please email me at least 30 minutes before my office hours, or at least 24 hours before the day you’d like to meet.


Assessment: I will evaluate your class participation holistically according to this rubric. Your participation self-assessment will give me a fuller picture of your approach to the course and aid my assessment:


Preparedness -always brings course readings

-always arrives promptly

-always prepares questions, notes, and reactions to readings

-usually brings course readings

-usually arrives promptly

-has read the assignment

-sometimes brings course readings

-is sometimes late to class

-has skimmed the reading

-often forgets to bring course readings

-often late to class

-often obviously unprepared for class

Speaking -offers questions and thoughtful responses to the readings more than once per class

-responds to other students’ ideas, not just the instructor’s

-respectfully allows others to speak; does not monopolize the conversation

-cites specific passages in reading

-speaks roughly once per class

-speaks generally about the readings

-sometimes monopolizes the discussion when others want to speak

-mostly responds to the instructor, rather than other students


-speaks roughly once every four class meetings

-does not seem interested in the discussion or material

-rarely refers to the reading when speaking

-monopolizes the discussion


-rarely speaks in class
Listening -always listens respectfully to classmates

-does not interrupt

-looks alert and engaged

-sometimes interrupts

-usually seems to be listening to the discussion


-often seems to be preparing own comments instead of listening to others

-interrupts other students

-regularly sleeps, does other work, or talks to neighbors during class

-generally zombie-like