Infrequently Asked Questions
Below are questions that I wish students would ask more frequently. If you are asking yourself any of these questions, please give yourself a pat on the back for doing so, and then look to the answers below. If you don't yet have any questions, I hope this list will give you some ideas regarding what you should be thinking about as you go through the course.
Do you care about errors in spelling, grammar, etc.?
Usually not, if you write clearly. If these kinds of errors begin to get in the way of communicating ideas--especially if there are a painfully large number of them even on the first page--I will probably circle without comment some of the mechanical errors that I pick up: punctuation, spelling, usage, notation, etc. Two or more circles linked by one or more arrows (and sometimes question mark(s)) indicate an error in coordinating different sentence elements (e.g., verb agreement, paired commas around a restrictive clause, etc.). I may then ask you to correct the errors before I read what you've written, especially if the situation recurs after turning in the first assignment.
- Generally, though, the focus in your writing should be on exploring whatever most fascinates you and articulating your questions and insights with focus and clear logic, so do not worry too much about perfect spelling, grammar, etc.
[Occasional statements throughout this document are derived, with permission, from a similar document written by my colleague Peter Fosl, Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Transylvania University. Much of the wording of my statements regarding academic honesty is drawn—definitely with permission!--from Patricia Keith-Spiegel, “Syllabi Statements Regarding Academic Dishonesty: Rationale and Suggestions,” distributed by Ball State University’s Center for the Teaching of Integrity.]