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Author: Ross S. Feldberg

Course Contract – 2006

Contemporary Biosocial Problems in America Course Contract

Tufts University

Ross S. Feldberg, PhD

1. The instructor needs to:

(This contract was drawn up in consultation with the fall 2006 class on September 5, 2006 and reviewed on September 7, 2006.)

  1. Be enthusiastic about the course material and create a relaxed atmosphere.

  2. Help prompt the discussion without forcing his opinion on everyone else.

  3. Shape the class enough so that discussions are not simply a series of different opinions without any focus or conclusion.

  4. Be willing to look at all sides of an issue

  5. Make clear what the expectations are for each assignment, and provide feedback.

  6. Make the course material relevant to what is happening in the world.

  7. Make an effort to get to know the students in the class (and facilitate interactions between students).

  8. Encourage students to argue points of view they might not naturally take.

  9. Make sure the course load is appropriate (students should be challenged, but not overwhelmed). I will have to depend on your feedback to make sure this is happening.

(Does that cover my obligations? Anything else I need to do? I would point out that many of the above points carry implicit obligations for you!)

2. Students (and the instructor) need to:

  1. Listen carefully and respect divergent opinions (treat each other with respect)

  2. Take responsibility to do the reading before class.

  3. Actively participate in class so that the class is not dominated by the one or two students who tend to speak up.

  4. Respect confidentiality when that is an appropriate.

3. Additional suggestions based on previous years’ experience:

  1. Get to class on time (respect your classmates’ time).

  2. Avoid interrupting others and be sensitive about not dominating the conversation.

  3. Not wait until immediately before class to post their comments.

  4. Recognizing that a student may not come prepared every time, I would like to suggest that students be allowed two “un- or poorly-prepared sessions” without penalty. I expect students to make an honest declaration about their lack of preparation and then take responsibility for taking notes on the class discussion and preparing a written summary, which they will then post.

(Is that it? Are you being too easy on yourselves? Are there any other obligations that students should fulfill in order for this class to work well?)

4. Final Thoughts:

If you can trust me to accept criticism as constructive, then I would like to do a class evaluation half-way through the term to see how the course is going and how it could be improved.