Strategies for Success in This Course

Each semester, I ask my students to suggest some specific things that future students should do in order to get the most out of my classes and earn the highest possible grade. Here's a list of ideas they've come up with, along with my comments:

• “Follow the instructions exactly!!!!” (Josh adds: Please! If you don’t, you will earn zeroes on some of the assignments, and I don’t want that any more than you do!)

• “Read the syllabus carefully and keep it!” (Josh adds: Read it carefully. Read it several times. Refer back to it often during the course of the semester.)

• “Don’t skip, it’s not worth it! And pay particularly close attention to the Attendance Policy.” (Josh adds: This really isn’t a good class to miss. Come to every session. Be on time. Don’t leave early. If you know you’re going to have to miss a class, check with me ahead of time.)

• “Raise your hand a lot, even if you don’t know the answer to the question!” (Josh adds: Great idea! Raising your hand will raise your grade. It’s that simple.)

• “Don’t be rude in class. Make sure your cell phone is turned off. Don't sit there talking to the person sitting next to you.” (Josh adds: Treating me or your classmates rudely won’t help your class-participation grade. Treating us with respect will.)

• “Make Josh earn his paycheck! After all, you’re paying him!” (Josh adds: I am available to you during regularly scheduled office hours, by phone and by email. Use my availability. I am not only willing but happy to help you to be successful in your course, but I can’t help you unless you give me the chance to. For example, you can email assignments to me before their due dates and ask me to go over them with you and point out ways to make them better. You can visit me or call me in my office during my office hours to discuss upcoming assignments and speeches. You can check in with me after your graded speeches for additional praise and suggestions beyond what I'll give you during class time immediately after your speech. I've noticed that students who make regular use of my office hours usually wind up earning higher grades, enjoying the class more, and learning more than students who don't. And, believe it or not, I actually like helping you to do better on your homework and speeches!)

• “Use the website.” (Josh adds: I update my website often. It’s got a lot of stuff on it that’ll help you, including summaries of every one of the graded homework assignments and quite a bit of the lecture material. If you're reading these words, then you've already found the website online. Well done! Come back often! And, if you find any mistakes or disagreements between what I say in class, what the syllabus says, and what the website says, please let me know, so I can make the necessary changes!)

• “Take careful notes, and set your notebook up the way Josh recommends.” (Josh adds: Carefully taken notes will be invaluable when the time comes for the final exam. If you miss a class, get good notes from a student who was there and read them carefully— before the next session, if at all possible.)

• “Be responsible!” (Josh adds: If you miss a class, be sure you contact me by 9 PM on the day of the absence, especially if there was a homework assignment or a speech due that day. Make sure you get your homework done before the due date, and don’t forget to bring it to class with you!)

• “Do the extra credit! It’s easy, it’s actually fun, and the points add up!” (Josh adds: I agree completely — it is fun. It’s fun for me, too, so don’t hesitate to ask me to do the extra credit with you. If I can fit it into my schedule, I’d be glad to. [This’ll make more sense when you know what the extra credit is. You can find out now by going to the "Homework" part of this website and clicking on the appropriate link.])

• “Don’t wait until the middle of the semester to take the class seriously.” (Josh adds: That’s excellent advice. I will give you regular updates about where you stand in your class, including two updates before midterm grades come out, and I encourage you to discuss your grades with me as often as you’d like. I’ve noticed that some students slack off during the first half of the term, then have to fight for the entire second half of the term just to pass the course. If you’re serious from the beginning, though, then you shouldn’t have to fight at all to be successful. CST 110 is a challenging course, but it really isn't a hard course!)

• “Play the game, don’t take things personally, and hang in there!” (Josh adds: Yes, college is a game. And, like any other game, you can play it to win or play it to lose. If you play to win, you probably will win — but, if you play it to lose, you probably will lose. Think of me as the coach. I would be happy to advise you regarding strategies which will help you to be a more successful player — but you need to ask me to do that.)

• “Enjoy the class. Make the most out of it. Keep an open mind. Remember that Josh is not in control of your grade — you are. Hang in there: you’ll get your money’s worth!” (Josh adds: Amen!)


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