The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version:

Missing 20% of the class sessions = failing. Be on time, try to say something every day, don’t go on Facebook during class. 10% off for every day an assignment is late. No re-writes, but I will read drafts. Following instructions will probably get you a B, being super awesome will get you an A. Cheating is the worst.


I will take attendance each day at the beginning of class. Your general record of attendance and punctuality will be taken into account when determining attendance/participation grades. Students who miss 20% or more class days, for any reason, will automatically fail the course. (If the class meets 27 times in a semester, you can miss up to 5 times and still pass, though missing that many is likely to affect your participation grade.) If you have truly extenuating circumstances, and fear they may cause you to miss more than 20% of the class, you should arrange a meeting with me before your absences get into the danger zone. If an absence causes you to miss an in-class test or assignment, I will allow make-ups in cases of religious observance or documented illness/emergency. Make-ups for religious observance must be arranged with me in advance.


Participation will be evaluated above and beyond simple attendance of class. I expect all students to arrive on time and ready to start discussion at the beginning of the period; to take notes on their readings and bring these to class each day; to contribute to class discussions regularly (try to speak at least once each day); and to allow other students the chance to contribute by stepping back when appropriate. Get in the habit of managing distractions such as cell phones, Facebook, chat, email, shopping, etc. Distractions not only cause you to miss material (I know, I was a student not that long ago) but they also distract the people around you. I can tell from the front of the room when you’re doing that stuff, and I will adjust your participation grades accordingly. If you are so good at not getting distracted by online activities that I can’t tell when you’re doing it, then more power to you, but you’re still probably better off just paying attention in class.


I will make every effort to answer emails & Twitter messages within 24 hours during the week and 48 hours on weekends. I prefer to be addressed as Professor or Professor Portwood-Stacer or Prof. P-S; you can call me Laura or LPS once you graduate :).

Late assignments

I don’t like accepting late assignments because I think they are unfair to those students who deal with extenuating circumstances without asking for an extension. However, I understand that sometimes things come up that keep you from getting work done on time. Therefore, I will accept assignments late, deducting 10% for each day (or fraction of a day) they are late. Technical issues will not be accepted as excuses for late work – getting the assignment in on time usually means experimenting with the technology in advance so that a glitch doesn’t come between you and timely submission. If you know you will be turning something in past the deadline, I’d appreciate a quick note to let me know so that I have your assignment accounted for when I start grading and know to keep an eye out for it later.


I do not allow assignments to be revised for additional credit, as I find this to be unfair to students who plan ahead, follow instructions carefully, and seek feedback on early drafts of their work. I am always available in office hours or by individual appointment to read or discuss any assignments well in advance of their due dates. If you feel an assignment grade was recorded incorrectly due to a clerical error, please inform me as soon as possible so it can be corrected.

Posting work publicly

Nearly all of my courses involve work posted publicly online. There are legitimate problems with using commercial, networked services in this way, but I believe the pedagogical, social, and professional benefits outweigh these problems, for now. You are always welcome to post work under a pseudonym, and to make accounts for your coursework that are separate from your personal accounts. I welcome you to approach me with any concerns you may have about posting your work publicly, and I will do my best to accommodate these with you.

Grading criteria for individual assignments

In order to achieve grades above 80%, submitted work must demonstrate competent understanding of course material and meet all criteria set forth in the assignment. I tend to craft my assignment descriptions meticulously – read them carefully and follow all instructions and you should earn at least 80% of the points. Anything that appears in the assignment description is an instruction (not a mere suggestion). As your work increases in effort, insight, and originality, your grade will go up from there. Work that earns 90% of the points or better will demonstrate comprehensive engagement with and understanding of the course material (i.e. you’ve read everything, absorbed the lecture material, and can explain it all masterfully), will show evidence of your own expressive voice and point of view, and will excel in professionalism and polish. I am always available to go over your work with you in office hours before due dates – I am happy to work with you to push your work into the outstanding range.

Calculation of course grades

I grade my courses using a points system, in which all assignments are given point values, cumulatively totaling 500 possible points. Final course grades are calculated based on the number of points you earn. Letter grades are assigned based on the following scheme:

320-334 335-349 350-369 370-384 385-399 400-419 420-434 435-449 450-469 470-500
D D+ C- C C+ B- B B+ A- A

Academic integrity

Copying or sort-of-copying work that is not your own shows that you aren’t getting enough out of the course and don’t deserve a passing grade. Having someone else do your work for you shows that the course is not worth your time and you don’t deserve a passing grade. Using disallowed materials or devices during tests shows that you didn’t prepare enough and don’t deserve a passing grade. I strongly dislike not giving passing grades. Please don’t put me in the position of having to question your academic integrity, giving you a failing grade, and/or escalating the issue with the department and school.

NYU’s course policies

Students with disabilities

Students with physical or learning disabilities are required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities, 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, (212-998-4980) and are required to present a letter from the Center to the instructor at the start of the semester in order to be considered for appropriate accommodation.


Plagiarism and academic integrity

All students must be familiar with the NYU Steinhardt School definition of plagiarism and the policy on academic integrity. The NYU Steinhardt Statement on Academic Integrity is available at: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/policies/academic_integrity

The Steinhardt School defines plagiarism as follows:
Plagiarism, one of the gravest forms of academic dishonesty in university life, whether intended or not, is academic fraud. In a community of scholars, whose members are teaching, learning and discovering knowledge, plagiarism cannot be tolerated. Plagiarism is failure to properly assign authorship to a paper, a document, an oral presentation, a musical score and/or other materials, which are not your original work. You plagiarize when, without proper attribution, you do any of the following:
• Copy verbatim from a book, an article or other media;
• Download documents from the Internet;
• Purchase documents;
• Report from other’s oral work;
• Paraphrase or restate someone else’s facts, analysis and/or conclusions;
• Copy directly from a classmate or allow a classmate to copy from you.