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Class Policies


Assignments and Policies Major Assignments

RCL I has four major individual assignments (two talks and two essays) and a capstone group multi-media project. All assignments must be completed in order to pass this class, and a passing grade in RCL I is required in order to take RCL II this spring. Specific details on the assignments will be available on this course website under the “Assignments” tab and discussed in class.


Early in the semester, students will set up a blog using WordPress through Penn State (your instructor will provide details for how to set up the blogs). These blogs, featuring two weekly categories, will be devoted to RCL and will be distinct from any other blogs you keep. Blogs from this particular section of RCL may be aggregated so that you, your classmates, and your instructor may easily find and read one another’s posts. Two blog posts (in the Passion and RCL categories) will be due each Thursday prior to class for a total of 10 weeks. Students may be placed in small blogging groups, and members of these blog groups will be responsible for engaging one another’s entries with comments. Students will be able to revise and select entries for inclusion in final e-portfolios in RCL II (spring semester). For more specific information on blogging in RCL, consult the “Blogging Overview” summary on the “Assignments” page on this course website.


Participation in this class is strongly encouraged, which is why it counts for 5% of the final grade (see below). Participation has several dimensions, not the least of which is presence in class. This doesn’t simply mean bodily presence but actual attunement to the class discussion. Engaged, vocal contributions (questions, discussion points, etc.) are considered central to the success of the class. Also valuable is recognizing when it’s time for other students to contribute. There will be opportunities to contribute in small-group discussion. All in-class activities represent opportunities to work out ideas.


Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences may result in a lower final grade for the course (down to and including an “F’). Three late arrivals equal one absence. Students will bring the reading material to class on the day it is assigned or risk being counted absent for that day. Students who come to class without having completed the assigned reading or writing may be counted absent as well. Barring extenuating circumstances, a poor attendance record can affect your participation grade as well as your overall final grade, which may be docked for excessive absences.

Grading Breakdown

Unit One: Civic Life Speech 10%

Unit Two: Rhetorical Analysis Essay 15%

Unit Three: Paradigm Shift Paper 15%

RCL TED Talk 15%

Unit Four: History of a Public Controversy 20%

Blogs 20%

Participation 5%

Grading Scale

A = 95 to 100, A- = 90 to 94.9, B+ = 87.9 to 89.9, B = 83.3 to 87.6, B- = 80 to 83.32, C+ = 75 to 79.9, C = 70 to 74.9, D = 60 to 69.9, F = 59.9 and below. Note: The Penn State grading scale does not allow the option of awarding grades of C-, D+ or D- grades. This grading scale is recommended by the Penn State College of Liberal Arts. Instructors are not required to “round up” according to this scale.

Academic integrity/Plagiarism

Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20). Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University’s Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction.   We will discuss proper citation practices in class, and I welcome questions on this issue at any time before assignments are due. I’d like to stress too that plagiarism is not to be confused with the sharing of ideas—all writers get advice from friends and colleagues. For the purposes of this course, the element that distinguishes such productive collaborative moments from plagiarism is that of willful deception—i.e., cheating.

Disability Support Services & Special Circumstances

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. If you have a registered disability or any other special circumstance, please let me know about it within the first week of class. We can then devise a plan for how to approach the semester.

Statement on Nondiscrimination

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status. Discrimination or harassment against faculty, staff, or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University.   Note: The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible.

Mobile Devices

Please silence your mobile devices before entering class.

Course Resources

RCL has a course site for all sections, where you can find announcements and social media feeds. There, you can also find successful RCL assignment examples from previous years at “This is RCL.”  Just follow this link: RCL I Course Resources

Writing and Speaking Help

Students are encouraged to draw upon the University’s resources to develop their skills in writing and speaking. Students can consult with peer writing tutors through Penn State Learning and get help with their oral communication skills and presentations from peer mentors at the Undergraduate Speaking Center, sponsored by the Penn State College of Liberal Arts. Keep in mind that these resources are free are useful for students at all levels!

Course Connections

#RCL1415 is the course hashtag for this year. Please feel free to use it to tweet any materials, blog entries, or RCL-related thoughts. The tag feeds into the course hub site (mentioned above), so please tag with that in mind.



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