Syllabus - Foundation 101 - sec4

Please read the grading policy and class schedule carefully. I didn't know is not an acceptable excuse


Attendance policy and assignments are designed to create good habits. Interviews are calculated to help you integrate into the university community. Making a web site should provide you with academic skills as well as life skills and should be fun. Library assignments should give you a feel for where academic information comes from as well as promoting library research skills. The biography assignments stimulate library skills, foster independent interests, encourage reading and writing skills as well as a commitment to continuing education. The oral report will reinforce interview skills and give you speaking experience with a friendly audience. The final exam reminds you that education is wasted if you don't retain something.

College must prepare you to deal with change. To deal effectively with change one must discover relevance in unexpected places. Foundations 101 and 102 and the best university courses challenge you to expand.

To benefit this course, learn actively and learn in your own way. An A is of little, short term value. A new skill or idea is a lifetime benefit. Doing assignments mechanically is frustrating in the short run and useless in the long run. Assignments are graded to encourage improvement.

Assignments can be dull and mechanical or interesting and creative. If you can't do the assignments creatively, suggest alternatives.

Web site
Biographical reflections
Oral Report
Final exam

Attendance and active participation are essential class components

150 points
1 miss*
145 points
2 misses*
135 points
3 misses*
125 points
4 misses*
115 points
5 misses*
80 points
6 misses*
0 points

* You may be excused only by prior arrangement or by doctor's note (be sure you understand university attendance policy). If necessary, make up for misses with extra credit assignments. In my experience, people who skip many classes early invariably fail the course.

Due dates

Deadlines are on a separate page. Assignments are due at the beginning of class (unless you make prior arrangement). Late assignments will receive 1/2 credit for the first week and no credit beyond the first week after due date. Word processing is required for all assignments.

Feel free to turn in assignments early, especially if due dates coincide with critical days in other classes.


Excuses are poor preparation for a career; avoid them. Make up missing assignments by doing extra credit assignments.

Academic integrity

I encourage collaboration with classmates. However, written assignments must bear no resemblance to one another. If I find resemblance, I will make no specific accusations, but will require all parties to redo the assignment. Resemblance to a journal article or to a web site article (plagiarism) will be treated likewise. All sources must be cited! A second violation will result in a 0 for the assignment and a letter to student judicial affairs which becomes part of a permanent file. A third violation will result in a grade of F in the class.

Class participation

Active participation can raise your grade one level (for example from B to A). Disruptive behavior, persistent nitpicking, or attempts to bend class requirements can lower your grade one full level. Tardiness and excuses are disruptive behavior.

Active participation means attending regularly, maintaining a positive attitude, staying alert and participating in class discussion and small group discussion. Active participation is training for career and community involvement. If you don't naturally speak up, observe natural leaders and learn their skills.

Providing me suggestions or positive feedback, or talking with me before or after class is another way to participate.


Contact me ( by e-mail. Include your address and phone number in the e-mail

Web site

You will become a web expert (computer genius?). You'll create a web site using freeware and free web space. For details see the web assignment page.

Library assignment

Do the Section 4 library assignment. (30pts)


Attend one theater performance and write it up (1 pg) within a week after seeing it.

Word processing

You must use word processing for all assignments (including biographical reflections, interviews and extra credit). The word processor is far more than a typewriter; learn to compose and correct spelling on it. Assignments may be submitted as e-mail attachments.


Seven interviews are required, the first with a student who is a stranger (not from this class, your dorm, or your home town), one with an upperclass student, one with a student of a different race or culture, one with an upperclass honors student (note that honors refers to the UNL program), one with me (your foundations instructor), one with another instructor or professor and one with your advisor.

An interview is a guided conversation. Decide what information you want, rehearse your plan until you're comfortable with it. Before you begin, make sure your interviewee is agreeable. Begin by setting the interviewee at ease. Summarize your purpose and then ask simple questions. For example, search for shared interests. Be positive and enthusiastic. Explore interesting topics, ask for details, ask why the person feels a certain way, discover similarities and differences from your own views. Personal anecdotes make interesting reading. The most successful interviews will expand your outlook on life. A successful interview requires good listening and skillful questioning.

For students be sure you give their name, home town, and a brief description of how you met. I suggest discovering their interests, their response to the university, how they chose or plan to choose a major, their thoughts on how to succeed at the university, etc. Pay special attention to interesting or helpful ideas. For the upperclass student be sure to solicit advice for freshmen.

For the student of a different race or culture, again seek shared interests, but discover the negative. Since most students of other races and cultures are well adjusted, you may have to press hard to find negatives. If your interviewee is unable to help you with negatives, find another.

For the honors student, seek motivations and suggestions for coping with the university as well as shared interests. Note that an honors student is a participant in a specific university program, not just someone with good grades. Is the student a person to be admired? Are honors students what they're cracked up to be?

For faculty make appointments beforehand. Discover their interests and how they found their careers. Discover what they consider important in a student. If you have no advisor, try to get one. Failing in this, interview faculty in your major department or in a department which you're considering for a major. The interview might help you pick a major.

For each interview turn in a report of about one page (double spaced) written with a word processor. I encourage creativity. Don't feel obliged to do everything exactly as I've told you. Interview and write in ways that are meaningful to you. If an interview goes poorly, consider doing extras and writing up only the most interesting. You'll receive from 5 to 10 points for each interview depending on its quality.

Interviewing can be a helpful excuse to meet people. You can always say: My professor says I have to. Interview experience enables you to introduce yourself and start conversations outside formal settings. Use common sense to deal with problems. Keep track of especially interesting experiences. We'll eventually discuss interviews in class.

Biographies - general

Biography is the academic topic for this section. Biographies are a path to interesting reading, an opportunity to discover mentors and a chance to exercise writing and library research skills.

The goal of this section is discover admirable (and interesting) personalities. In particular you'll be finding biographical sketches (or appropriate chapters of longer biographies) of significant people of interest to you and reflecting on how their experiences affect you. You should seek articles which excite you and write about elements of lives that you would be proud to emulate.

Writing biographical reflections will be more difficult than doing interviews because you don't control the situation. You're constrained by what's written. You must select parts of the writing and weave them together with your own experiences.

These assignments are a good test of motivation. They give you freedom to choose from many topics but are simple enough to accomplish within a few hours (at least once you get the hang of it). Arousing and maintaining motivation will prepare you for other courses which will challenge you with more difficult assignments and less freedom of choice.

Biographical reflections - specifics

I'll provide an example of the sort of article you might use. For the first two reflections only you can use internet sources. Beyond the first two you must use library sources.

Before you begin, do the section 4 library assignment and be familiar with how to find biographies. It will help to compile a list of potential biographees; biographical dictionaries will assist in doing this. Collaborating with classmates at this stage may also help. Consider biographees who are interesting and who have made lasting contributions to society. A good rule of thumb is the person should still be significant 100 years from now. You must not choose sports or entertainment figures.

The article must not be from a biographical dictionary. Enclose a copy of the article (or book chapter). This will discourage you from selecting lengthy sources and help me see how you use source material.

At the beginning of your paper, cite the article so that I could find it in the library. You must include the Library of Congress number for the book or journal. I will not grade a biography that lacks adequate citation. All biographies should be from different sources (i.e. you can use only one chapter from a book of collected biographies). This assures more than minimal library research experience.

The biographical reflection should be about two double spaced pages in length and focus on aspects of the persons life of special interest to you. It should convey the significance of the person's life as well as the persons significance to you. One appropriate strategy is to intermix incidents from your own life with incidents from the biographee's life. Another is to describe some of your ideals or aspirations and then describe how the biographee exemplifies them. The reflection must not be an abbreviated version of the article. The reflection will be graded (up to 20 points) on how well it's written and how well you convince me of the person's interest and significance.

The last biographical reflection must utilize an article found through a chain of references (e.g. from Bio Base to Biography Index to a magazine article, or from the bibliography of a book to magazine article). At the beginning of this sketch you must cite the complete chain of references.

Oral reports - see signups

You must become an expert on one University service by reading the literature or participating in that service. Once you are familiar with the service, make an appointment and talk to someone in the office which administers that service. Note that some offices put people off. Be creative and assertive. Remember, a reporter who failed to get the story would be fired! Near the end of the semester (see schedule) you will give a roughly five minute oral presentation on that service. To prevent everyone talking about the same service, I'll assign topics on about Nov.4. If you have a strong interest in a particular service or want to add an additional service to my list, let me know. You'll receive 5 to 10 points depending on the quality of your report.

University services

CAP office
Career planning and placement
Computer resources
Counseling center
Culture center
Daily Nebraskan
Handicapped student services
Health center
International education services
Multicultural affairs
Office of campus recreation
Scholarships and finance
Student employment & internship center
Student legal services
University police
Women's resource center.

Final exam - Up to 30 points

This will cover the entire semester and will ask specific questions about what you've learned. Unless you actively participate in class, you'll probably find most of the questions difficult.

Extra credit

To earn a high grade, you'll probably need extra credit.

You may earn 30 points of extra credit by identifying a specific academic weakness and carrying through a program utilizing university services to strengthen this weakness. Let me know by the third week of class if you wish to exercise this option so that we can plan the details together.

You may obtain up to 20 points by doing an extra biographical reflection in the same way you do the required biographical reflections.

I'll gladly entertain ideas for additional extra credit assignments.

All extra credits must be earned before Dec 1.


Grades will be based on the number of points you accumulate.

415 points
400 points
385 points
375 points
below 360 points
below 315 points

Remember that class participation can influence your grade. I advise active participation and extra credit assignments to give yourself a cushion.

A note about me

Taking initiative impresses me more than following details. Feel free to bend details of assignments slightly as long as you don't bend their spirit. If you need more detail, ask (e-mail is best). Feel free to call me. If I'm brusque, remind me that I promised not to be.

It's my intention to be taken seriously, not to be intimidating. I'll go out of my way to be helpful, provided you'll do likewise.