Dr. Natalie Grinnell

Reeves Family Professor in Humanities


Class Participation and Decorum

My classes do not include class participation scores; however, because all of the courses that I teach are relatively small (under twenty students), failure to participate in class damages the overall course community. Students are therefore required to participate through class preparation, attentive listening, and written and oral responses. Moreover, students are expected to avoid behavior that undermines or interferes with the participation of other students or distracts the professor.

Special Addendum due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

All students must wear masks which cover both the nose and the mouth at all times when inside the classroom during my classes or or when meeting in my office.  Neck gaiters and bandanas do NOT counts as masks.  In addition, students may not eat or drink in the classroom. Please take food or drink to the outside steps and consume it there.

  1. Class Preparation: Students need to come to class prepared in two important ways:
    • Supplies: Always bring paper, writing implements and your book to class. It’s important to understand that in a literature course, you simply must have the text in front of you. Sharing books in class is really not an acceptable substitute for having your own. If you are waiting for a book, you should bring a photocopy of the pages assigned for each class until your book arrives. Note: The bookstore returns all unsold texts by midterm.
    • Assignments: Scheduled reading and writing assignments need to be completed before entering the classroom.
  2. Attentiveness: It’s important to pay attention in class, not just to your professor, but to your fellow students. Students should demonstrate attentiveness by:
    • Avoiding Side Conversations: If the professor or another student is speaking, students should not engage in private conversations at the same time.
    • Staying Awake: Sleeping–aside from being extremely rude–is a distraction in small classes. If you find yourself too tired to stay awake in class, you should either choose not to attend that day or stand up and move to the back of the room.
    • Taking Notes: Writing at least a brief outline of what takes place in class will help you concentrate your attention and remember any questions that you may have.
  3. Oral and Written Responses: Students may be asked to respond to questions about the readings, writing assignments or the class conversation, whether or not a hand is raised.

Distracting Behavior: The following guidelines will help you avoid distracting your professor or your fellow students.

  1. Food and Drink: Please do not bring meals or snacks to class without special permission.   As long as the pandemic continues, food and drink are not permitted in class.
  2. Dress: Students should remove or turn around hats with brims and remove sunglasses in the classroom, unless they are worn for a medical reason. Shoes, including flip-flops, should remain on at all times, and your torso (from mid-thigh to breastbone) should be completely covered so as not to flash the professor.
  3. Posture: Please observe a posture that makes it look as if you are paying attention. Avoid putting your head on your desk, leaning against walls, or propping your feet up on the desk or chair in front of you.
  4. Electronic Devices: No electronic devices may be used in class without specific permission. Cell phones, smart watches, electronic pens and similar devices must be turned off completely before entering the classroom and placed inside a pocket or backpack. At times, your professor might invite you to bring a laptop to class.
  5. Studying for Other Courses or “Multi-tasking”: Please don’t read, do homework or study for other courses during our class time. Nor should you attempt to complete other tasks unrelated to the class you are attending. Such behavior is insulting to both your professor and your fellow students.

Penalties: Wofford students are expected to behave like adults and should not need negative reinforcement to adhere to these guidelines. In the rare instance when a student does not exhibit self-discipline, the following penalties will be applied:

  • A private warning. A student may be asked to stay after class to receive a warning not to repeat inappropriate behavior.
  • A public warning. A student or group of students may be asked in class to discontinue inappropriate behavior if the professor finds it difficult to go on with class unless the behavior immediately ceases.
  • A request to leave class for the day. One or more students may be asked to leave the classroom, especially for failure to prepare for class or for distracting behavior. If a student is asked to leave class, he or she will be counted absent for that day (see guidelines for attendance); students may not make up activities that they have missed in class on a day on which they are asked to leave.
  • New Seating Arrangments: Students who cause consistent distractions may be asked to sit in a specific seat or be banned from sitting next to specific students.
  • A Forced Withdrawal from Class: A Wofford professor may require a student to withdraw from class due to repeated inappropriate behavior. I have never invoked this penalty, and I find it difficult to imagine a Wofford student who would force me to do so. But if I absolutely have to, I will.

Seriously, these penalties should not be necessary at all, and I have gone years without invoking any of them. Unfortunately, however, a very few exceptions have made it necessary for me to spell out these rules. Please try to keep them in mind; I have no desire to have to enforce any of them.