Soc 220 FAQs


This is a high-demand course and many people are trying to get into it. No one is being admitted except through the normal online enrollment. If you want to get into the class, sign up for the section you want on the electronic wait list through your student center. People on the wait list will have priority over people who try to add the class when classes begin. To confirm your place on the wait list you will need to ATTEND THE FIRST LECTURE CLASS IN SOCIAL SCIENCE 5206 on January 21. We will have students fill out information sheets and select people based on their need for the course and ability to contribute to the diversity of class discussions. Students who first attend a later class will have a lower priority than those who attend the first lecture.


International students are welcome in this class, as you contribute to the diversity of class discussions. However, we have consulted extensively with English as a Second Language faculty, who advise us that this is NOT a good course for international students with weak skills in reading and writing in English. You may be tempted to take it because it meets both the e and com-b requirements, but the ESL faculty recommend that you meet the two requirements in separate courses. The class requires that you read four books plus do extensive library research. Because it is a com-b course, you must be graded on your writing by the same standards as native speakers of English. The papers involve analysis of issues in US politics, which are harder for an international student to understand. If you do not easily read and write in English, you should expect that you will need to spend a great deal of extra time on this class or that you will receive a lower grade than you might otherwise hope for. Please ask ESL faculty for advice if you are unsure about how to evaluate your English skills.

Initial Assignment and notes sent to the class list (if you’re not signed up for the course yet.)

Here are initial assignments and notes that were sent to the class list. There are some initial assignments for this class to let you know about. This will also be announced and discussed later today.

  1. Completing the “before” survey counts as the equivalent of attending one lecture in the “lecture” grade. It will take at least 15 minutes to do the survey, possibly 30 minutes. This has to be done by Feb 2, 2014
  2. Completing the “syllabus quiz” survey counts as the equivalent of attending one lecture. This is easier to do after you have a copy of the syllabus; it is basically just a way to verify that students see/understand the parts of the grading system that I know students have been confused about in previous semesters. This has to be done by Feb 2. This is inside learn@uw.
  3. Writing a short self-introduction essay about your ethnic/racial background and experience to take to your section meeting on Friday Jan 24. This will be collected and counted as part of your participation grade but will not be graded. Its purpose is to get you thinking about course issues and to give your TA an early sample of your writing. One page is plenty.

Frequently Asked Questions

(Grading, Longer Comments, Missing Class & Lecture Make-Ups, Books)


Question: How are the lecture reactions graded? What do I have to do to get an A on lecture reactions?

Answer: (1) Come to all the lectures. (2) Write 5-10 sentences of commentary on the lecture that makes it clear you were paying attention to the lecture at several points during the class. (This writing requirement is relaxed for films and other occasional events when writing during the class is difficult).

Question: So what are the effort/engagement points?

Answer: This is a new system this semester so it may take a while to work out the kinks. If my feeling about your daily comment is that you were attending to the lecture and the writing meets the minimum requirements, you get a 2. If you average 2 on the lecture reactions and come to all classes, you get an A in the journal. If you write less than the minimum or seem to have zoned out or are writing vague comments that are not really tied to the class, you will get a 1 (or perhaps some value between 1 and 2). Occasionally I may feel that what you wrote reflects an unusually high level of effort and engagement for that class, I may give you a 3 (or some number between 2 and 3); this will be a rare event and it is no insult to get a 2. You don’t have to go for 3s, a 2 is enough, but I want some way to signal to people that I noticed if you seem especially involved.

 Longer Comments

Question: My friend said you have to do longer comments for this class, but I don’t see anything about that. What am I supposed to do?

Answer: The class assignments have changed since the last time I taught the class. Read the syllabus for this term. There is one ungraded essay due to your TA in section on September 7 in which you write about your own ethnic/racial background and experiences. 1-2 pages. Toward the end of the term you will write 150 minutes on an assignment that will be distributed in the second half of the class.

Missed Class, Late Comments, Make Ups

Question: What if I am sick?

Answer: DO NOT come to class if you are sick. Do a make up. You will not be penalized, but you must do the make up to get credit for the missed class. (see below) Your claims of illness will generally be taken at face value, however it is academic misconduct to claim to be ill when you are not. “I need a mental health day” is not an illness. A communicable disease or a physical condition that makes it impossible to come to class is what is meant here. If you miss more than two or three classes due to illness, we will require more information.

Question: What if I miss class for a religious holiday? Or because my child/parent is ill? Or because I am in a car crash?

Answer: If you miss class due to circumstances beyond your control (or a religious observance), do a make up. You will not be penalized, but you must do the make up to get credit for the class. (see below) Your claims of circumstances beyond your control will generally be taken at face value, however it is academic misconduct to lie about such circumstances and if you are claiming more than a day or two, we may ask for additional documentation.

Question: How do I do a lecture make-up?

Answer: (1) Talk to at least 4 different students to make sure you know what actually happened in the class you missed. Do not make assumptions. Sometimes the web site has not been updated. (2) Spend a minimum of 30 minutes doing reading, talking in some depth to 4 or more people from the class, or watching videos to find out what you missed, Then write (a) why you missed class (needed only if the absence should be excused) (b) what you did to make up the class (what you read, who you talked to) and (c) a minimum of 200 words describing what happened in the class that you missed. You still have to do a make-up even if the absence is excused due to illness, religious observance, or circumstances beyond your control.

If your absence should be “excused” for illness or other reason, you need to give the reason in the make-up entry. We will ask for documentation of the circumstances if you are claiming a large number of excused absences.

Question: I really need to study for my chemistry exam / got called into work / had a job interview / just didn’t feel like coming to class. Can I get credit?

Answer: You can get credit for up to two voluntary (i.e. unexcused) absences by doing a lecture make up. You can get half credit for a make up for two more voluntary absences. Beyond that, you cannot get credit for missed classes. Please note: studying for another class, going to a special review session, taking two classes that overlap with each other, having job hours that conflict with class, having a job interview or taking a vacation do NOT count as circumstances beyond your control. While you sometimes have to make difficult choices, they are your choices. If you do have to take the point loss, it will not be great unless you miss a lot of classes.

Question: What if I forgot to turn in my lecture comment when I left class? Can I email it to you? Or drop it off at your office? Will I still get credit if it is late?

Answer: Do NOT email to me, do NOT drop it off anywhere, do NOT give it to your TA. The ONLY way I accept any lecture comments is in the folders. If you forget to turn it in, submit it to the folder at the next class with a note on it saying what happened. If this is a rare event, your explanation will be believed. If it happens often, you will need to do something to correct the problem or lose credit.

Question: I had to come late/leave early. Can I still get credit for the class?

Answer: If you arrive more than a couple of minutes late or leave early, you must write your arrival or departure time on the lecture comment page. If you miss more than 15 minutes of a class on an occasional basis, you will get only proportional credit for the class. If you want to get full credit, you wil have to do a make up for the part of the class you missed. If you come late or leave early often enough that it adds up to 75 minutes or more, you will be penalized in an amount equal to one class; this applies only to small amounts each day that you have not already lost credit for in the proportional credit rule.


Question: How do I submit my book critical questions?

Answer: Book comments (critical questions) about 1/3 a book a week are to uploaded to learn@UW following your TAs instructions. NOTE: It is OK to get ahead on these.

Question: What do I write about for a book comment?

Answer: Instructions have changed. This will be explained in discussion section. You write a “critical question” that both demonstrates that you have done the reading by providing some background for the question and asks a question that can actually be discussed.

Question: Can I “get ahead” on the book comments?

Answer: Yes, you can get ahead on the book comments and turn them in early, up to a maximum of 1 whole book per week. Break your comments/questions into sections for the three parts of each book and upload to learn@UW following the instructions.

Question: What is the penalty for late book comments?

Answer: You lose 10% for each week or portion thereof that a book comment/critical question is late, but will get at least 30% of the points for turning in work that makes it clear you did read the whole book with some understanding. However, you can submit a maximum of one book’s worth of comments per week and no comments will be accepted after the last day of class unless there are circumstances beyond your control.