Grading criteria for individual assignments

In order to achieve grades above 80%, submitted work must demonstrate competent understanding of course material and meet all criteria set forth in the assignment. I tend to craft my assignment descriptions meticulously – read them carefully and follow all instructions and you should earn at least 80% of the points. Anything that appears in the assignment description is an instruction (not a mere suggestion). As your work increases in effort, insight, and originality, your grade will go up from there. Work that earns 90% of the points or better will demonstrate comprehensive engagement with and understanding of the course material (i.e. you’ve read everything, absorbed the lecture material, and can explain it all masterfully), will show evidence of your own expressive voice and point of view, and will excel in professionalism and polish. I am always available to go over your work with you in office hours before due dates – I am happy to work with you to push your work into the outstanding range.


Calculation of course grades

Assignments are given point values, cumulatively totaling 500 possible points for the course. Final course grades are calculated based on the number of points you earn. Letter grades are assigned based on the following scheme:


320-334 335-349 350-369 370-384 385-399 400-419 420-434 435-449 450-469 470-500
D D+ C- C C+ B- B B+ A- A



I will take attendance each day at the beginning of class – if you are not in class at start time you will be marked late (3 lates or early departures = 1 absence). After 2 unexcused absences, each additional unexcused absence will result in a 10% reduction to your attendance/participation grade (i.e. 5 points from your 500 point total). Documentation will be required for excused absences/lates, which will be granted at my discretion; your previous record of attendance, timeliness and participation may be taken into consideration. Absence for religious observance must be approved in advance. Missed quizzes can only be made up for credit in the case of a documented, excused absence, and will be offered at a time that I will determine. Missed activities must be made up by the class period following the missed class – you should either obtain the activity from a classmate or email me to request a copy. Each missed activity that is not made up will result in a 10% reduction to your attendance/participation grade.



Participation will be evaluated above and beyond simple attendance of class. I expect all students to arrive on time and ready to start discussion at the beginning of the period; to take notes on their readings and bring these to class each day; to contribute to class discussions regularly (try to speak at least once each day); and to allow other students the chance to contribute by stepping back when appropriate. Get in the habit of managing distractions such as cell phones, Facebook, chat, email, shopping, etc. Distractions not only cause you to miss material (I know, I was a student not that long ago) but they also distract the people around you. I can tell from the front of the room when you’re doing that stuff, and I will adjust your participation grades accordingly. If you are so good at not getting distracted by online activities that I can’t tell when you’re doing it, then more power to you, but you’re still probably better off just paying attention in class.



I will make every effort to answer emails & Twitter messages within 24 hours during the week and 48 hours on weekends. I prefer to be addressed as Professor or Professor Portwood-Stacer or Prof. P-S.


Late assignments

I don’t like accepting late assignments because I think they are unfair to those students who deal with extenuating circumstances without asking for an extension. However, I understand that sometimes things come up that keep you from getting work done on time. Therefore, I will accept assignments late, deducting 10% for each day (or fraction of a day) they are late. Technical issues will not be accepted as excuses for late work – getting the assignment in on time usually means experimenting with the technology in advance so that a glitch doesn’t come between you and timely submission. If you know you will be turning something in past the deadline, I’d appreciate a quick note to let me know so that I have your assignment accounted for when I start grading and know to keep an eye out for it later.



I do not allow assignments to be revised for additional credit, as I find this to be unfair to students who plan ahead, follow instructions carefully, and seek feedback on early drafts of their work. I am always available in office hours or by individual appointment to read or discuss any assignments well in advance of their due dates. If you feel an assignment grade was recorded incorrectly due to a clerical error, please inform me as soon as possible so it can be corrected.


Posting work publicly

Nearly all of my courses involve work posted publicly online. There are legitimate problems with using commercial, networked services in this way, but I believe the pedagogical, social, and professional benefits outweigh these problems, for now. You are always welcome to post work under a pseudonym, and to make accounts for your coursework that are separate from your personal accounts. I welcome you to approach me with any concerns you may have about posting your work publicly, and I will do my best to accommodate these with you.


Academic integrity

Copying or sort-of-copying work that is not your own shows that you aren’t getting enough out of the course and don’t deserve a passing grade. Having someone else do your work for you shows that the course is not worth your time and you don’t deserve a passing grade. Using disallowed materials or devices during tests shows that you didn’t prepare enough and don’t deserve a passing grade. I strongly dislike not giving passing grades. Please don’t put me in the position of having to question your academic integrity, giving you a failing grade, and/or escalating the issue with the department and school.


All students must be familiar with the NYU Steinhardt School definition of plagiarism and the policy on academic integrity. The NYU Steinhardt Statement on Academic Integrity is available at: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/policies/academic_integrity


Students with disabilities

Students with physical or learning disabilities are required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities, 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, (212-998-4980) and are required to present a letter from the Center to the instructor at the start of the semester in order to be considered for appropriate accommodation.



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