Wednesday, 4 April 2012

4 ways to get away doing almost nothing and 4 ways to prevent it (part 1)

I promised earlier that I would write about this and here we are. The University of Utrecht has the obligation of active participation. To participate means missing at most one or two seminars, depending on the specific rules of the course. To participate actively means to show up having read the material and having done the work. I cannot stress enough that this is incredibly important to getting good grades and getting your degree. I understand though that it cannot always be done. Some professors will, when taking presence, ask if you are prepared.

1. Having done no work:
No matter how little you have done, answer that you have in fact prepared. There are at least three reasons for you to lie like that, though they are omitted from this article in fear they might persuade people to stop doing work.

How to get away with it: hope really hard that you are not picked to give an answer. If you do get picked, claim that this is the one question that you did not prepare, preferably in a vague manner so you can later still claim the same with other questions.

How to prevent it: teachers need to either have a tougher sanction when the lack of preparation is admitted, or need to have a good system of making sure you give every student a question to answer. Make up your own if needed, or keep track over a couple of seminars.

2. Having only minutes before the seminar:
So you find yourself outside class with only a few minutes left. Been procrastinating too much again? Oh well, here is what you need to do.

How to get away with it: read all the questions and scan literature and jurisprudence for key words. Note things like ‘margin of appreciation’ down really quickly and if asked a question answer in a vague question. “I am not sure exactly, but am I right to think it might have something to do with the margin of appreciation?”

How to prevent it: Do not accept vague answers. Ask about what the keywords mean and ask in-depth questions about the literature. It is okay if students start opening their books and looking it up; that they know where to look shows they did the work (required) even if they did not understand it (the reason they are at this seminar).

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