B09: Participation Handout

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This is the online version of the short handout given out in our first tutorial titled “Participation Handout”. If you see any errors please free to let me know. If you have any other questions, try checking out the “Participation Questions and Answers” handout which you can access by clicking here, and feel free to contact me if you feel your question still hasn’t been answered or answered well.

Revision history:


PHLB09 2018: Participation Handout
For students registered in C’s tutorials, 2018

What participation is: For our purposes, “participation” will generally mean “collaborative engagement”. That means engaging with other people in any ways that relate to the course, and supporting a community of learning both in the classroom and in your life more broadly. What this seems like in action will be different for different people, and that’s okay!

Some example ways of participating: Different people learn and engage with others in different ways, and this tutorial will try to be sensitive to and inclusive of those differences. We will try to keep the definition of “participation” very broad. Some example ways of participating could include (but is definitely not limited to!):

  • contributing to tutorial discussions,
  • sending tutorial prompts to the TA,
  • engaging with or signal-boosting the contributions of others,
  • corresponding with your family and friends outside the classroom,
  • keeping a blog or journal about bioethics, or writing reading responses,
  • exploring and learning from other articles, podcasts, lectures, blogs, etc
  • updating Wikipedia entries or other databases,
  • creating and sharing zines, comics, poems, or other artistic engagements,
  • organizing or attending bioethics conferences, workshops, seminar series, reading groups, online discussions, events, etc,
  • asking, answering, and reflecting on questions on the course discussion boards,
  • raising conversations on social media like Twitter (#PHLB09), Facebook,
  • sharing relevant news, articles, or other resources with classmates,
  • filling in tutorial discussion sheets in class, at home, the library, or wherever,
  • suggesting and discussing ways to improve tutorials with the TA,
  • organizing or joining shared note-taking or study groups,
  • and other ways as well – we’ll navigate this over the term!

How participation will be evaluated: Grading the “quality” of participation attempts can be exclusionary and insensitive to different styles and needs around learning and communicating. I don’t want people to be penalized because I didn’t notice their efforts, and I wouldn’t want to privilege one style of participating over another. Instead, we will grade participation based on self-reports that reflect on how we’re each trying to participate, and the ways that can or should change over time. These reflections will be graded for degree of completion rather than their content. What we want to see is evidence that people are trying to discover the best ways to participate for themselves, and that we are regularly reflecting on what it means to try to participate in a dynamic environment made up of different people and needs. There will be three reflections over the term, and they will each be graded as follows:

  • If you submit a reflection of any kind, it automatically gets 6/10 (C-)
  • If you do the above and it clearly tries to answer all the questions, it gets 8/10 (A-)
  • If you do the above and it clearly gives reasons/support for all answers, it gets 10/10 (A+)

Because these are graded for degree of completion, it is okay for answers to be unsure, to be casual, to be brief, to have no exact answer. It’s okay for an answer to say “I don’t know if I have a good answer to this, this week, because…”, or “I actually don’t think this is a helpful question this week, because…”. Think critically, be honest, and write what you need to! More guidance on what is expected of answers can be found on the “Participation Questions and Answers” handout, which you can access by clicking here.

Each reflection will have equal weight for the final participation score, 33.3% each, with possible adjustments made for things like (i) unexcused disruptive or disrespectful behaviours affecting others, including but not limited to those outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, or (ii) improvement over time. If it seems like adjustments need to be considered, I will make every effort to reach out to students first to discuss, to make sure there aren’t any miscommunications or misunderstandings. An optional fourth reflection can be submitted to (a) make up for a missed submission or to (b) replace a previous lower score.

When reflections will be due: You can submit at any time on during the weeks they are due, so you can set the deadlines that work best for you. If you cannot submit a reflection in the two-week window, or cannot submit a make-up reflection at the end of the course, please reach out to me and we’ll try to come up with an alternative.

Note: Submission windows for the second and third reflections have been updated as of Feb 11.

How to submit reflections: You will be able to submit in person during tutorials, or online. I will also work to ensure you can submit audio or video files if you prefer, rather than text. Watch emails for instructions and updates. To view or complete a sample submission form, you can click here.

The questions you will be asked each time: Note: these questions may change as we continue to navigate the term, and as we identify the different questions important to us.

UPDATE 11/03/2018: In reflections #3 and #4, the first question about what participation and engagement mean to you has been removed, as it doesn’t seem helpful past two reflections. I have added an optional fifth question that asks “What is one thing you really like about the course so far? What is one thing you do not really like? What is one thing you would change?”

  • What do “participation” and “engagement” currently mean to you? Has this changed for you in the past few weeks? If so, how?
  • In what ways have you attempted to participate in our course, whether in course settings or elsewhere? Has this changed for you in the past few weeks? If so, how?
  • In what ways have you attempted to encourage or support the participation of other members of this course? Has this changed for you in the past few weeks? If so, how?
  • What are some areas in which you can improve on (2) and (3) in the upcoming weeks? What are some concrete things you might try in order improve in those areas?
  • What are some barriers to participation that you have experienced? Are there any ways that other members of the course can help to remove or reduce these barriers and better support your participation (and especially C, as our TA?)

Accommodations and inclusions: I know not everybody has regular access to things like internet or computers to submit reflections outside of tutorials, or to affordable accessible transportation to campus, and not everyone has the same relationship to writing or to the English language. If you have any questions or concerns about participation or tutorials please reach out to me, and we can talk about how to work better as a class to make sure you are included and graded fairly.

If you have any other questions: Try checking out the “Participation Questions and Answers” handout which you can access by clicking here, and feel free to contact me if you feel your question still hasn’t been answered, either by email, in person, or by commenting below.

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