This letter is to help explain an important part of the Writing Program’s policy on grading. Your instructor will have written about this policy in his/her syllabus and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

In order to be successful in any course you take, it is obviously important for you to be present in that class, not only in body, but in mind. We are dedicated to making our courses in the Writing Program as stimulating and productive for you as we possibly can. We have found that just one student who is disengaged or consistently absent can diminish the learning and the enthusiasm of an entire class. We are determined not to let this happen to those of you who are eager and ready to participate and engage in the scholarly process.

Therefore, we have developed a policy that rewards students who try hard, attend class, and turn in assignments, but removes from class those students who are not yet ready to make this commitment to learning. Throughout the semester, in addition to being graded on the quality of your work, your instructor will grade you on participation, preparation, homework and attendance. If you do not have a grade of C- or better in this area, you are considered to be failing this part of the course and you will receive a written warning. If you do not raise this grade, you will be withdrawn from the class by your instructor with a grade of “F.” A student will not be withdrawn without first receiving a warning from his/her instructor and will be given at least two weeks to address the problem. Warnings may be given at any time during the semester and withdrawals will occur throughout the semester. If a student is failing in participation, preparation, homework and attendance at the end of the semester, the student will receive an F for the course.

To make clear the distinction between failing the class for quality of work and failing the class for preparation, participation, homework and attendance, here is an example. If you are assigned homework and turn it in complete and on time, that is considered full credit – even if you get 4 of the 10 questions wrong because you didn’t understand the material and earn a D for the assignment. If you are engaged and working hard, and you still find you are making poor grades, you will not be withdrawn from the class. It is possible, of course, that you may in the end fail the class but that is another story.

This policy is meant to enhance your learning process. You do not deserve to be in a class where students with poor attitudes are allowed to sap the energy of the class or the teacher. The automatic withdrawal with a grade of “F” policy is a way of saying if you’re not attending class and doing the work, let’s just make it official: you’re not really in this class.