Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked (or, more importantly, unasked) questions about individual policies and procedures for my courses. 

Please note that these answers do not take the place of specific instructions listed in a given syllabus, or anything I may have advised in class or in person. 

general questions

What’s the best way to get in touch with you? 

The best way to get in touch with me is by email or in person. During the semester, I answer all student emails promptly between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. If you email me after 7:00 pm, know that you can expect a reply in your inbox by 7:00 am the next morning. 

I enjoy meeting with students in person. If you have a short question, don’t hesitate to speak with me before or after class. If it’s a longer one, or a private matter (including grades), feel free to stop by my office hours or set up an appointment.

Do I need to make an appointment in order to visit you during office hours?

Nope! My office hours are open, meaning you’re free to stop by at any time during them. If I’m with someone else, please wait patiently. After 5 or 10 minutes, give a polite knock and let me know you’re there.

But I’m busy during your office hours. 

Not a problem. Email me to set up an appointment, and I’m happy to meet with you at a time that’s convenient with your schedule and mine, including very early morning or into the early evening.

papers and written assignments 

I’m having trouble understanding the assignment and/or getting started.  What should I do?

Come and speak with me during my office hours or by appointment. In fact, the best stage to come and speak to a professor about a paper is during its conception.  

When you come, please bring a list of at least three concrete questions, ideas, or passages you’d like to discuss in relation to your paper.    

Can you read over a draft of my paper?

My policies regarding drafts differ for writing classes and literature classes. For a writing class, please see the syllabus for instructions about feedback on drafts.

For literature classes, I’m willing to look over one draft of any formal essay assignment so long as (a) you bring it to me in person, and (b) you do so more than 48 hours before the paper is due.  I will offer three major suggestions, rather than comment on the paper directly.  I will not read over a paper for spelling errors or grammar. 

If you are unable to bring the paper to me directly or the paper is due within 48 hours, you may email me with a list of three specific questions you have about the paper draft.

For help with your writing, including organization and argumentation, you are highly encouraged (and, in some classes, required) to visit the Writing Center. 

My printer isn’t working, so I don’t have my paper. Can I email it to you?

Unless you’ve already cleared this with me in advance, no. A hard copy of all papers or written assignments should be handed in at the beginning of class on the day they’re due. Any papers received after this, by email or otherwise, will be considered late (see the syllabus for policies regarding late work). 

Make sure you have ample time before the deadline to print off the paper, and, if your printer isn’t working, to find another one. Unless the syllabus specifically asks for an electronic copy of the paper (usually via Blackboard), I will not accept a paper or formal written assignment over email.          

But I emailed the paper to you. You didn’t get it?

No, I didn’t get it, and this is the reason for the policy above. Problems with email are legion, and the verbs of my students’ emails get surprisingly passive (“The paper must not have attached,” “It must not have sent,” etc.) when they try to send late papers.

What’s your policy regarding spelling and grammatical errors?

All final drafts of written essays should be polished, meaning they should be free of spelling and basic grammatical errors and should be properly formatted (this includes typographic layout and MLA citation). 

Excessive grammatical, spelling, or typographic errors in a paper may lead to a grade reduction or even an F. Controlling errors and producing a polished final draft is simply your responsibility as a student. 

grading, quizzes, participation, etc. 

What constitutes good class participation?

Participating in good faith in class and group assignments (group work, presentations, etc.) is a sine qua non for a positive participation grade. 

In terms of verbal participation, I think the following is a nice rule of thumb for all college-level courses, particularly discussion-based humanities classes or seminars: come prepared, for every class session, to raise one solid textually based question or observation. “Textually based” means rooting your claims in a specific passage of the day's assigned reading, and then drawing our attention to some problem or question that emerges from it.

Is extra credit possible?

Often, yes.  I’ll mention extra credit opportunities in class as they arise. 


 © Joel Dodson 2014