Robert W Gehl, Assistant Professor of New Media, Department of Communication, University of Utah

Robert W. Gehl

13 January 2003

First "Webblog" Post: FAQs for Students

For my first attempt at a "webblog" (which I take to mean a log on the Web), I figured I would post a set of Frequently Asked Questions. This particular FAQ is a bit tongue-in-cheek, because I'm posting it in this "social network" Professr, which is supposed to be only visible to those I have "friended" (I know this because I've read the Professr Privacy Policy). So I am pretty sure none of my past, present, or future students will see it! So I get to let my hair down a bit. Enjoy!

Q: Is there extra credit?

Let me first translate your question. You're really asking, "What can I do so I don't have to do the regular assignments?" With that out of the way, I'd answer: probably not. I sometimes offer EC for special events on campus, but not often. Why not? Well, first of all... more work for me! In addition to grading the *regular* assignments - which, by the way, usually aren't hard if you work at them - I would get to grade your extra work. There goes another weekend.

In addition, I've found that there's two types of students who go after extra credit. First, there's the obsessive A students who don't need it anyway. They do extra work because, hell, they like learning. If they do this work, they end up with more than 100% on the final grade, which we all know is statistically impossible!

And then there's the students who won't bother doing *any* work unless I call it "extra credit." Then, and only then, they go nuts and do all the extra work. But it doesn't matter because they are going to fail the class anyway.

I've toyed with the idea of having every point in a class be called "extra credit." Maybe that's the way to avoid having this question asked. "It's all extra credit! Let's celebrate!"

So, the answer is, again: probably not.

Q: It's the end of the semester. I just failed. Can I redo something to pass?

A: The way I grade, the final grade of the course is not like a car crash. That is, it's not like you're driving along, rocking to Papa Roach, while unknown to you the final grade is running a red light and suddenly t-bones your car. I'm pretty open about grades on day one - what the assignments are worth, what participation is worth, and so on. You can calculate your grade pretty easily at any point in the semester.

In my grading system, your failing grade is a terminal disease; you get diagnosed pretty early, there's treatment, but you let your fatalism set in and you give in to the inevitable. In this metaphor, your email about make-up work after the end of the semester is an email from beyond the grave. You're dead. There's nothing I can do.

Let's say for a minute I want to play God and bring you back from the dead. Let's say, I decide to let you redo assignments after the end of the semester. Then, in all fairness, I would have to:

So, the answer is: no. And: why didn't you talk to me sooner? Like, before the end of the semester?

Q: It's only week two of the semester. The class is full. Can I have an add code?

A: Have you come to class at all?

No.

Why would I add you then?

I need the class to graduate. I haven't been to class because my family was vacationing in Hawaii.

You need the class to graduate? And you didn't register for it when registration opened last semester?

No.

Hmm... Let me thi---No. No you cannot have an add code.

Q: I have never taken a class from you before, nor have you met me. Will you supervise an independent study for me?

Huh?

It's going to be a really cool project. It has to do with your area of research. That is, if your area of research is the opposite of what you've written on your biography.

Huh?

I need to do it to gradu---

No.

Q: Can I meet to discuss the paper I just wrote and got back from you? I want to improve my work for next time.

Yes! ... ... wait. I don't get this question frequently at all. It shouldn't be in this FAQ.

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