WHITMAN COLLEGE RELIGION DEPARTMENT
in Religious Context:
As explained in the syllabus, class meetings for this course will rely heavily on class conversation, generated by students’ written contributions presented at the start of each class. This type of interaction can be a great asset in developing the thinking skills highlighted in the “Objectives” section of the syllabus. Such learning cannot take place without your being physically and mentally present in the classroom. Therefore the fundamental requirement of taking this course is coming to class consistently!
Articulating in detail the class policy regarding attendance matters helps both you and me to know exactly what is expected.
Attendance affects your overall performance in three important ways, as noted below.
1. During class you will often (a) receive logistical information, which will help you to complete readings or assignments correctly; and (b) engage in interactive conversation designed to help refine your thinking. If you miss class, then, you are likely to miss some detail of the readings or assignments; and it will take you longer to refine your thinking on the written assignments. If you miss class--for whatever reason--call a classmate and make sure you know what was announced and what conversations were generated. (I recommend that you initiate your own conversation with whomever you talk to, even if it's just for five minutes). Note: although I may be able to fill you in on some of the details you missed, it is your responsibility to find out what went on during your absence.
2. Attendance supports your participation grade, simply because you can only participate if you are in class. (I know this seems obvious, but some people seem to forget!) If you are absent, (a) you not only cannot make thoughtful comments or ask insightful questions; but also, during future classes that you do attend, you cannot make links to conversations that occurred during classes you missed. In both cases you miss important opportunities to allow me to assess your participation overall. (All of this is especially true when you miss a class during which one of your own written contributions (analytical paper, critical response, or your synopsis interpretation) is under consideration.) In addition & even more importantly, however, (b) your overall participation grade is determined by multiplying your preliminary participation grade by the percentage of classes you attended-- which means that your final participation grade is further reduced. To summarize: if you are absent from class without a valid excuse (see below), (a) you miss a chance to contribute to your overall participation grade; and furthermore, by the logic of multiplication, (b) each unexcused absence further reduces whatever overall participation grade you do end up earning.
[For example, if you miss 2 out of our 20 class sessions (including sessions held during day trips)i.e., you attend class only 90 % of the time--your B (.85) for participation becomes a C (.85 x .90 = .76)]
3. Finally, consistent attendance may help raise your final grade for the course, especially if you are on the border between two letter grades (e.g., B-/C+, A-/B+). Conversely, even a few absences will almost surely guarantee you the lower of two possible grades, and systematically missing class may further lower your final score.
Reasons for absence will be considered on a case by case basis. Your absence will be considered unexcused until and unless you present documentation to explain it, no later than the next class that you are able to attend. If you miss class and don't discuss it with me upon returning, I will assume you feel there is no valid excuse. In general, an absence will be considered excused only for the following reasons:
• family emergency (either death or severe illness, verifiable through the Dean of Student's office)
• incapacitating illness (verifiable through the Dean of Student's office; if chronic, let me know in advance what special provisions you will require)
• athletic competition (advance notice must be given at the start of the term)
• graduate school or job interview (seniors only--advance notice must be given at the start of the term)
The following generally do not constitute valid reasons for missing class:
• Sleeping late (especially for an afternoon class!) due to inadequate planning, faulty alarm clocks, unreliable roommates, etc., is not a valid excuse. It is your responsibility to use whatever combined means you find necessary to wake up for class--unless of course you are incapacitated by illness or condition, as mentioned above, which you should discuss with me. Please do not waste your time and mine by stating "I overslept" as your reason for missing class.
• Having too much work, or tests or other deadlines for assignments in other classes, also does not constitute a valid excuse. I certainly agree that you have too much work! Still, that is part of the challenge of a liberal arts education: to learn how to manage activities of different kinds, by distinguishing between essential tasks and things you do quickly or skim over. As noted above, attendance in this class is one of your essential tasks.
• A doctor's appointment scheduled during class time is not normally considered a valid excuse, unless you are severely ill and need a same day appointment. Advance appointments must be scheduled outside of class time; any special circumstances must be brought to my attention prior to the class you miss.
Attendance Policy (top)