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Welcome to our online course. :)

College and Career Success 221
Becoming a Master Student Student
Section 4411
Spring 2017

Riba Taylor

Office hours
Mondays 11am to 2pm by phone (details below).

Students already enrolled in my courses are also welcome to try to reach me at home by phone between 11am and 2pm (Pacific time) weekdays at 760.327.9759. (I am only committing to being available on Mondays during these hours, but I am often available during these times and you are welcome to try me.) Since this is my home phone, please call me only during the proffered times. Thanks.

We can arrange for phone or private online meetings at any other time if you'd like my input or help regarding your work in the course or if you have any concerns you need to address. Or, if you'd just like to talk a bit informally about writing or reading or being a student in general, class texts in particular (or ??), I'd be happy to meet you in the Chat Room of our course site or make arrangements to speak on the phone. If the above times don't work for you, please send me a private message in our course site and include your preference. If you'd like to arrange a phone meeting, please include your phone number and three good times to call you. Thanks.

If you are not yet enrolled in one of my courses, please use only the Monday office hour times to call me, or send me an email anytime.

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The best way to reach me electronically is by Private Message in our online classroom. I will check these often, and it's easier for me to help you when I am actually inside our online classroom at the time. But my email address is above if you need it for any reason.

This course will provide an exploration of intellectual, psychological, social and physical factors that impact college learning, well-being and success. Students will learn critical college-level skills and strategies for motivation and stress management and build a community for academic and personal support.

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Student learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1) Articulate the educational opportunities, programs and resources available in college.

2) Recognize and employ various strategies to strengthen college success.

3) Perform research and communicate findings and thoughts.

4) Describe the factors influencing the choice of major and career and the process one follows.

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Required texts
Becoming a Master Student---Concise, by Dave Ellis
12th edition
ISBN-13: 978-0-547-12659-3, ISBN-10: 0-547-12659-X

students holding work with grades on it

You will be graded in this course on several short assignments, quizzes and discussion postings. There will also be some short research assignments. You will receive full points for all work that meets the requirements of the task and does not contain excessive errors (such as spelling and grammar). Most tasks are worth between 50 and 100 points. You will be able to repeat many of the quizzes and tests in order to achieve the score you are happy with. So, there is little to keep you from earning an "A" in the course unless you simply don't complete the assignments.

In order to pass
You must complete the Research Task and the final exam with a passing score (C- or better) in order to pass the class. You will have a chance to revise and edit the Research Task along the way in order to earn a passing score---there is one "report" due before the final one so you can learn from earlier feedback---and you can retake the final exam, but it must be within the time frame allowed during the course. (In other words, you need to successfully complete the final exam and the Final Research Task Report by the due dates. So, I recommend turning in the first Research Task report on time in order to ensure you are on track because you can't revise and edit this after the fact in order to be able to pass the class.)

And you must, of course, also earn the total overall points in the course that will earn you a passing grade. ;-)

Etudes will automatically keep track of many of your points, but many will rely on my manually entering them. I will do this as quickly as possible, usually within a week of the due date's grace day. (Two weeks is my "drop dead" deadline for grading. ;-)

25 "formal" discussion activities = 1250 (+/-)
12 reflections (incl. learning styles applications) = 600 (+/-)
10 quizzes = 300 (+/-)
1 Research Task = 400 (+/-)
Final objective exam = 150 (+/-)
Other writing, quizzes, etc. = 200 (+/-)

Total points possible 2900 (+/-)

Note, this is an approximation to give you an idea of things. This is not an exact accounting. I will be sending tasks to the Etudes Gradebook only after I grade them, so you can easily keep track of your overall points and your current letter grade during the course of the term. (Remember, though, you will only earn the letter grade showing in the Gradebook if you successfully complete the Research Task and the final exam as described above!)

Final grades are calculated on a straight percentage basis (90% and up = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D, below 60% = F). To calculate your grade at any point simply divide your total points by the total points possible, and this will give you your percentage. I recommend doing the math periodically throughout the course to verify you are on track for earning the final letter grade you have in mind.

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Because you are not attending a traditional face-to-face class, there are no exact requirements for attendance. However, I expect you to "show up" in our virtual classroom often. I recommend daily login for checking messages and keeping abreast of any changes.

In my experience as an online student, checking in more than once a day during the week---even if only for a few minutes---has been the most effective way for me to keep up with the discussion messages without becoming overwhelmed. Plus, the more often I check in, the more engaged I feel, and the more I enjoy the class. Then I plan larger chunks of time for completing the rest of my coursework.

For this class, I'll ask you to develop the habit of checking the following every time you log in:

Recent announcements (on the home page)
All new posts in the Questions forum
Private messages (in our course site)

My time commitments to you
I'll visit our online classroom at least once every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to answer any questions posted in the Questions forum and reply to private messages. If I'll be unavailable during any of these days, I'll always try to let you know by posting a note in the Questions forum. My bottom-line commitment is to be sure to check in once on each of these days, though I often check a number of times throughout the day and evening. I won't be visiting the course site on Wednesdays, weekends or school holidays, except for the first weekend while folks are still becoming oriented and getting their feet on the ground.

If you "see" me in our online classroom but I don't respond to a question or private message, it probably means I'm grading and not currently checking for newly posted messages. I do try to always respond to any waiting messages whenever I visit the course site, but on occasion I'll need to pop in to address an administrative issue and won't have time to check for questions. If my time is limited, I always respond to questions in the Questions forum before answering any private messages since the forum posts affect the class as a whole.

Note, you may indeed see me in the course site on some Wednesdays and Saturdays, but please don't count on this being the case. Plan to look your work over early and get your questions asked with time to spare. The best scenario would be to review your work for the upcoming week over the weekend and post any questions you may have in the Questions forum by Monday or Tuesday. Ideally, we'll then have time for any sort of needed back and forth to get things clarified by Friday. (You'll note each Monday both the current week's module and the following week's module will be open, so you'll have plenty of flexibility in terms of looking over your work ahead of time. If you are really on top of things, you can be asking questions about the following week's work on that prior Monday. ;-)

Teacher working with a student

Open communication
I encourage you to bring me any questions or concerns that may come up for you during the course. If you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, worried or bored---tell me about it. I am happy to schedule a time to talk over the phone, and you can send me a private message whenever you like or call me at home during the hours stated at the beginning of the syllabus (under Office Hours). If you don't understand my comments on your work, please ask me. If you think I missed something or the grade you received doesn't adequately represent the quality of your work, tell me about it.

I can't stress enough the importance of keeping me informed. I try to be both fair and reasonable, but if I don't know what's going on with you, there is very little chance I'm going to be able to address your issues or concerns, much less help resolve them.

If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for any reason about a particular message posted by one of your peers in the discussions or the manner in which it was written, by all means address it directly and kindly within the discussion thread. If you feel unsure about doing this, do please send me a private message about it. (Because the discussions are primarily for you, I won't always stay current with them. So, I'll appreciate a timely heads-up if something "untoward" seems to be happening.)

On a lighter note, I enjoy communicating with my students, and it doesn't need to happen only when something has gone awry. Please feel free to send me a private message or call me to let me know when you've enjoyed a particular task or learned something valuable or just got a chuckle out of something in our online classroom. Small connections like this are important for all of us, I think. So please don't ever worry about "bugging" me, whether it's good or bad, large or small. I like hearing from you.

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Attitude and academics
Plagiarism or other forms of cheating are (of course!) unacceptable. When copying something word for word, or when rephrasing ideas from someone else's text, you must cite your source. If you use someone else's words or ideas without citing them (even only a couple), you are committing plagiarism and may receive an "F." Other disciplinary action may also be taken.

Equally unacceptable is any "behavior" that is disruptive or has a negative impact on the class. I expect everyone to treat each other with respect and as much kindness as we can muster. In the online environment, this should be easier to do because we have the advantage of being able to think about our words before we send or "speak" them. (I talk about this more in the Netiquette section of the Getting Started module. It's important to me.) If I feel your behavior is unacceptable, I may need to step in to "correct" you, or I may need to "speak" with you privately before you can continue to participate in the class. I don't anticipate this needing to happen, but I feel it's safest to alert students to this possiblity.

Dropping the class
If for any reason you stop attending class, please remember it is your responsibility to drop the course. I would also recommend you follow up by requesting a printout of your schedule from admissions and records to verify the drop has been implemented. If you don't drop the course, you'll automatically receive an "F." If you don't drop, your name appears on the final grade sheet, and I have no other option at that point but to complete the "bubble" for an "F." No one is happy in this situation (not me, not you, not Admissions and Records), so please take the time and be responsible for your own transcripts. Even if you've only attended the first days or weeks of a course, don't assume the instructor is going to "take care of it" for you. You might luck out once or twice, but eventually it will catch up with you.

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Other college support services
We have marvelous student support at Mendocino College, and I urge you to make the effort to benefit from what is offered. We have an extensive and amazing program for students with disabilities (including testing and support for students with learning disabilities), a terrific group of academic advisors in the counseling office (including special, qualified counselors who provide free personal counseling to students to help with mental/emotional/growth issues) and a wonderful library and learning center (with face-to-face and online tutors and study groups). These are just some of the student services offered, so please be sure to check these student services out on campus or via the college website. Or check with me or with the Instruction Office for more information.

If you are registered with the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC), they will let me know what sorts of accommodations you'll need for my course, and I'll be happy to discuss these with you, as well. If you want them to be able to freely discuss your specific issues and needs with me, please let them know. (I believe there's a form for this permission.) Remember, too, the DRC can also offer wonderful support in a number of ways.

Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. The DRC phone number is (707)468-3031, and they are located in Room 1000 on the Ukiah Campus (Counseling Office).

Encouraging a fair and safe experience
This college and this classroom are dedicated to providing an atmosphere that affords everyone, regardless of race, ethnic background, gender, disability, age or sexual preference, the sense of feeling safe and of being treated fairly so each student will have the best opportunity to learn. If you feel you have been treated unjustly, or are having an experience that in some way impedes your ability to feel safe in the academic environment, please let us know so we can do what we can to help. I've already encouraged you to bring any problems you might be having in my class to me, and I echo that again here. (If need be, we can get assistance from other campus support services to help us resolve any concerns.) For issues you are unable to resolve directly with an instructor, you can contact the Dean of Instruction in the Instruction Office, and for any other concerns, please contact the Dean of Student Services in the Counseling Office.

The most important thing to all of us who work here is that you have a good experience and are motivated to continue your education. We really are here to help. Please give us every chance we can to do just that.

A demanding but rewarding class
This is a demanding class, and I am an ogre about sticking to the requirements and deadlines. It's demanding, but it can be a fun, challenging, rewarding, heartwarming, eye-opening, entertaining and growth-filled experience for all of us. I'm glad you're here. I look forward to working with you throughout the course.

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