| Michael Aparicio|
After a brief introduction to different moral theories, this course will examine key philosophical themes arising in seven (7) contemporary moral issues: homosexuality, hate speech, euthanasia, abortion, vegetarianism, and collateral damage during war. The course will be designed to help students identify, analyze, and examine these philosophical themes. Successful students will be able to demonstrate an ability to deliberate over complex and potentially controversial moral issues.
You can click on the following link to review SRJC's Official Course outline for all Contemporary Moral Issues courses:
Participation: Participating in our daily class discussions is an important means of understanding the semester's topics. You will be expected to come to each class prepared to participate in our discussions. Any student missing at least four class meetings may be dropped from the course. In addition, you will be expected to behave in a way that is consistent with the college’s Academic Integrity policies, Discrimination policies, Sexual Harassment policies, and Student Conduct policies. In our class, “disruptive behavior” is understood as any behavior that distracts the instructor or any student from the course’s stated educational tasks. This includes, but is not limited to, 1- tardiness, 2- leaving the room during class, 3- any use of a cell phone, 4- eating, 5- “side talking” (i.e., talking to the class or an assigned group about something other than the assigned topic or limiting one’s conversation to an individual or individuals during a class or group discussion), and 6- passing notes or text messaging. Any student violating these policies may be asked to resolve the issue in a mandatory office visit. Any student failing to attend a mandatory office visit or unable to resolve an issue during an office visit, will be suspended from class as defined in the college’s Rules and Regulations.
Final Exam: There will be a final exam designed to assess your understanding of all of our course material. The exam's multiple-choice questions will be based on our semester's "Recommended Study Questions," which can be found on our course's online schedule. The exam's essay question(s) will be announced during a class review the week beforehand.
Participation: Any student missing 10% of our semester classes or more may be dropped from the course. However, it is your responsibility to drop the class if you decide not to continue. Any student who fails to do risks earning an ‘F’ or ‘NC’ for the class.
Reading Quizzes: You will earn one point for each correctly answered reading quiz question. Combined, your reading quizzes are worth over 50 points
Mid-Term Exams: The first mid-term exam will be worth 200 points. The second mid-term exam will be worth 250 points. Taken together, the exams will be worth 450 points.
Final Exam: The final exam will be worth 500 points.
YOUR SEMESTER PERCENTAGE SCORE WILL BE DETERMINED BY ADDING UP YOUR POINTS AND DIVIDING THAT NUMBER BY THE NUMBER OF POSSIBLE POINTS. YOUR SEMESTER GRADE WILL BE BASED ON THE FOLLOWING PERCENTAGE SCALE:
A: 900-1000pts B: 800-899pts C: 700-799pts D: 600-699pts F: 0-599pts
Replacing All Reading Quiz Scores: If you are not satisfied with your semester quiz scores, you may write an essay due at the end of the semester. The assignment is designed to assess your ability to examine a moral argument we have not discussed in class. In order to complete this assignment you should arrange an office visit with the instructor no later than the end of Week #11. During this 30 minute office visit, we will identify your essay's subject and discuss a study routine that is likely to be successful.
Replacing an Individual Exam Score: There will be an opportunity to replace one exam grade by completing an essay exam on the same material. In order to complete this assignment you should arrange a meeting with the instructor no later than two weeks after the exam is graded and returned. During this 30 minute office visit, we will review your exam, identify the essay exam's subject, and designate a time and place to take the essay exam.
Final Exam: Interested students may select to complete a project instead of completing our final exam. While the project must demonstrate your ability to critically analyze a moral argument's philosophical themes, it is an opportunity to use our course's concepts and skills imaginatively. To complete a Final Exam project, you must arrange multiple office visits with the instructor. The first meeting, during which we will define your project's guidelines, must be completed no later than Week #13. No exceptions!
The course's grading policy is designed to consider improvement and minimize the impact of occasional failure. No other considerations will be used to determine your semester grade. Remember the single most important factor in your grade is your own work. Ultimately only you can change this for the better.
NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED
YOU MUST HAVE PRIOR INSTRUCTOR APPROVAL TO RE-SCHEDULE ANY ASSIGNMENT.
Frankly, there is no simple formula to a successful completion in this course. In fact, there is no simple account of what it means for this course's learning experience to be successful. "Success" can be measured by your course grade, by how well a student can critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes at the semester's completion, by how well a student still can critically analyze such themes years after the semester's completion, by how much the student's ability to critically analyze such themes has improved during the semester, and by other means.
What all of these reasonable measures have in common is the goal to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes. For this reason, if you want to complete this course successfully, I recommend you devote time reflecting on the question, "What does it mean to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes?" We are devoting our first two week’s classroom time to this question.
The better you understand our course’s goal (i.e., to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes) the better you will be able to develop study habits that are likely to be successful. Since your understanding of our course’s goal (i.e.,to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes) is likely to mature as the semester unfolds, I recommend you review and modify your study habits throughout the semester.
How should you study?
Another reason there is no simple formula to a successful completion in this course is that are no easily identifiable “study rules” that will guarantee successful completion. For example, successful completion is not as simple as: 1) Read two hours each week, 2) Dedicate two hours to each week’s “Reading Questions,” and 3) Devote one hour to each week’s “Discussion Questions,” . Though successful completion will depend, in part, on devoting “enough time” to perform the above tasks, the amount of time can vary from student to student. How much time you will need to complete this course successfully will depend upon multiple factors, including 1) your language skills, 2) your ability to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes when the semester begins, 3) how clearly I explain our course’s concepts, 4) your ability to take clear and accurate notes, 5) whether or not you study in a place and time that is conducive to study, and other factors. For this reason, I recommend you proceed cautiously and set aside “a lot of time” to study.
How much time should you set aside to read and prepare for our reading quizzes? It is better to set aside too much time than not enough. To begin, each time you read a text I recommend you set aside at least 10 minutes for each page you are required to read. As the semester proceeds, you will be able to decide for yourself if you need less or more time than this; but I recommend you always set aside more time than expect to need and I recommend you read each required reading at least twice. Furthermore, I recommend you attempt to answer the week's Reading Questions as you read. Remember that our quiz questions and exam questions will be based on these recommended Reading Questions. Finally, if you are confused by any of these Reading Questions, I recommend you ask about it during class or an office visit. This is a vital process that many students neglect.
Once you have accurately completed a week's recommended Reading Questions, how much time should you set aside to learn this material? Again, it is better to set aside too much time than not enough. Since the goal is to master the questions, I recommend you review this material until you can answer at least 90% of the questions without looking up the answers.
How much time should you set aside to complete the recommended "Discussion Questions”? Again, it is better to set aside too much time than not enough. In addition, the amount of time needed to complete different weeks’ tasks is likely to vary. I recommend the following approach:
1) Each week there is a recommended “Discussion Questions” set aside at least an hour to review the questions. At minimum, note the page(s) where you will find the answer to each question. But it will be good if you attempt to answer each Discussion Question before coming to class.
2) Note the Discussion Questions that are highlighted during our classroom meetings. Make sure you take notes on each of these questions. You will have ample opportunity to do so during our classroom meetings; but you may also need to complete outside of class.
3) Once you have taken notes on the Discussion Questions covered in class, devote as much as time as you will need to be able to write a clear, concise, and comprehensive answer to that question. Remember, our exam essay questions will be based on the Discussion Questions we cover in class.
How does one successfully participate in our classroom meetings?
First, attend class!
Second, do not be tardy! In fact show up at least five minutes early. This gives you time to prepare for our class discussion.
Third, when preparing before class, review the textbook, review your notes, and review any questions you have. Furthermore, give others the opportunity to do this by speaking quietly or not at all. In fact, if you are talking before class and I judge that it is distracting or disrupting another student’s study or my own preparation, I will ask you stop talking. Our classroom is for learning!
Fourth, once class begins do not participate in any distracting or disruptive behavior. If I judge that your behavior is distracting or disrupting the facilitation class discussion, I will instruct you stop talking or I will instruct you to leave the classroom. If you are instructed to leave the classroom, you will be expected to review the college’s student conduct code and arrange an office visit to discuss why you were asked to leave the classroom. If the problem is not addressed to my satisfaction, I will file a formal grievance with the college. Please remember, our classroom is for learning!
Fifth, most classroom meetings will begin with a 5-10 minute opportunity for students to ask any questions about our course, including clarification questions about our course expectations, course concepts, and course skills. If you have a question and forget to ask it when the class begins, I recommend you write it down and ask after class ends. Do not raise such matters in the middle of class after we already have begun our lesson. At that point such questions are a distraction from our facilitated classroom discussion and you will be asked to write down the question and ask me after our class ends. Furthermore, some classroom sessions we will have a lot of material to cover and I will not begin class by soliciting any questions. If you wish to ask a question but that classroom meeting does not begin with an opportunity to ask it, please write it down and ask it after class ends.
Finally, your odds of successfully completing the course will be improved if you take good classroom notes. There are different note-taking strategies and tactics. If you have not already developed an approach to note-taking that works for you, I recommend you begin by documenting our readings’ key concepts and themes, as well as any observations that help you understand what it means to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes. Such notes will be especially helpful when answering any essay question.
Will you successfully complete this course?
The above recommendations help us understand why it’s important not to oversimplify what it means to complete our course successfully. I recommend you think of our course, in part, as an opportunity to fine-tune your study habits and classroom habits. You likely will succeed with some details to some degree, improve with some details to some degree, and discover ways you still need to improve even as the semester comes to an end.
While the above recommendations will not guarantee "success" – whether that’s measured by your course grade, how well you can critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes at the semester's completion, how well you can critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes after the semester's completion, how much your ability to critically analyze a moral argument’s philosophical themes has improved during the semester, or by any other means – they will improve your odds of successfully completing the course in each of these ways.
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Last modified: 19:45 on 23 August 2009
Copyright © Michael Aparicio
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